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Want to make changes to your condo? You may need board approval

Perhaps you saw the potential in a condominium when you bought it. Now that you own it, you want to make certain changes to put your stamp on it.

You may want to hold up on making any changes until you know for sure whether you need the approval of the condominium association first. If you fail to do so, you could end up in a costly war with the board, and that is not an enviable place to be.

What is the core issue?

Unless your vision only includes painting the walls and putting up curtains, you will probably need some form of permission in order to make the changes you envision. You may not even be able to pull out your carpet and put in hardwood floors without permission. The first thing you need to do is find out what you will need approval for and what you may do without it.

Outside of possibly needing municipal approval for some changes, you will probably need to go through the condo association. The board's concerns primarily include maintaining and increasing property values and noise. It must consider the needs of all residents and the value of the whole building. Your interests may conflict with the board's interests, and that could delay or derail your renovations.

What you can and can't do

You will need approval for certain projects but not for others. You probably don't need to consult anyone in order to make the following changes to your condo:

  • Light fixtures
  • Switches
  • Outlets
  • Baseboards
  • Crown molding
  • Window and door casings
  • Interior paint
  • Bathroom fixtures

If these are the only changes you want to make, then you may be home-free. If you want to make changes to any of the below, then you will probably need approval:

  • Electrical
  • Exterior or interior walls
  • Plumbing
  • Structural floor
  • Finish flooring
  • Ceilings
  • Columns
  • Exterior aesthetic changes

The only way to know for sure whether you need approval is to consult the CC&Rs for the condominiums, along with the bylaws and other documents. If you do need approval, then you will also need to adhere to the application process, which must comply with current law. Understanding all of these documents and adhering to the rules can cause a great deal of frustration and stress. Instead of attempting to go it alone, you may consider using the legal resources available to you here in Mission Viejo.

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