When HOA Affects Your HVAC Requirements

For all the good they do, HOA associations can complicate the HVAC requirements for property owners. Homeowner associations exist to protect the property interests of all their owners.

Central to their efforts are strict rules and regulations that govern the appearance and upkeep of the public and many of the private areas. Although federal law requires a heating system in every dwelling unit, they don’t stipulate that homes have air conditioning.

Can an HOA Restrict Air Conditioners?

Yes, many HOAs, especially in newer housing developments, have rules stating that window-mounted air conditioners are not allowed. If your community has restrictions covering the exterior appearance of the home, noise, and what you keep in the yard, a ductless mini-split air conditioner or heat pump may be a viable solution to meet your HVAC requirements.

These air conditioners and heat pumps are among the most energy efficient and versatile types of HVAC systems. A large ductless system can condition an entire three bedroom home. The outdoor condensers can hang on the exterior wall or sit on the ground. They’re smaller and quieter than condensers associated with central cooling systems. Some have decibel ratings as low as 58, which is the sound level associated with a quiet suburban street or a conversation in a restaurant.

Before You Buy, Review HOA Reserves Budget

Another HVAC issue associated with HOA concerns are attached homes that have decentralized heating and cooling systems. Some large projects use commercial-style HVAC systems that run the conditioned air through a ductwork network.

Issues might arise where it’s not always clear who is financially responsible for the ductwork maintenance or repairs. The best solution, in this case, is to ask the HOA board to clarify who owns what.

Before you buy into an attached community, review their budget for reserves. These are funds set aside for community repairs, maintenance, and improvements. The rule of thumb suggests that HOAs should estimate the cost of repairs and replacement over the lifetime of the equipment, and divide the amount by the expected system lifetime.

Thanks to new technology, it’s easier to manage HVAC requirements in a community with a strong HOA.

To learn more, contact Sherlock Plumbing, Heating & Air, providing HVAC services for North County homeowners.