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Alterations to the Exterior of Dwelling Units

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2017 | Firm News

As the long and cold winter months descends upon the Midwest, the fleeting memories of hot and sunny summer days flood our thoughts. For many, having a shady outdoor patio to relax beneath is crucial for survival of those sweaty summer months. One may wish to install an awning, screened in porch, or a shade canopy to achieve the perfect shaded patio for your living space. But Members beware! Before taking steps for such an installation, Members must consult their governing documents. These may restrict various alterations that involve making changes to the dwelling structure, either externally or internally i.e. the same shaded patio you are looking to install. Members must adhere to their governing documents before modifying any general or common element of the Cooperative as most Cooperatives restrict the use of these types of sun-shade mechanisms in the above mentioned governing documents.

Many may wonder why something as ordinary as a covered patio is against Cooperative guidelines. Well, as simple as a covered patio may seem the exterior alteration not only changes the appearance of the dwelling unit, but could compromise the structural integrity to not only the dwelling unit but entire building, as well. Allowing Members to install awnings, screened in porches, shade canopies, etc., can alleviate sun exposure issues, but could result in more pressing matters. Among these issues are: roof malfunctions, foundation issues, basement wall cracks, internal and external wall cracks, plumbing problems, electrical concerns, gutters, etc. These are just a few examples of what could happen to the dwelling’s structure once a heavy fixture is attached. Other issues that may arise pertain to complying with city codes, pulling proper permits, acquiring proper insurance for such alteration, and whether the hired contractors are fully insured and licensed within the specific state.

Allowing Members to install these and other various types fixtures on the exterior of a dwelling unit may bring many challenges for your Cooperative. The Cooperative must protect the Members, but it also must protect and preserve the structural integrity of all dwelling property. Members who wish to alter the exterior or interior of their dwelling units must precisely comply with the restrictions as stated in their Cooperative’s governing documents and the first step in doing so is an educational process so Members understand their obligations and the processes involved. 
Bottom line: As you plan ahead for next summer, and you are looking for shade on a sunny day; remember to check with your governing documents or contact your Cooperative’s management company before putting down a deposit on an expensive new awning.