Architectural enforcement — two views – Orange County Register

Q: Dear Mr. Richardson:  Our board is requiring approval of any architectural changes within the individual owner’s unit. Seems this is poking their noses in where they don’t belong. Is it legal? –K.M., Pasadena

Dear Kelly:  In a high-rise condominium, is the management of the HOA responsible for making sure owners get city permits when remodeling (electrical/plumbing). Some owners take shortcuts and contractors sometimes like to save the owner money. The HOA doesn’t have an architectural committee that would be responsible for reviewing plans, nor does the HOA require a copy of city approved plans, nor are plans approved by the board. It seems careless to me since work done in one unit could create problems for a neighbor, if a contractor who doesn’t do quality work is selected by the owner. — S.B., Newport Beach

A: Dear K.M. and S.B.:

A condominium owner typically owns the airspace bounded by the unfinished surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings. This is not universal because the exact delineation of what is separately owned and what is common area comes from the recorded condominium plan. Some condominiums are configured so the common area starts at the slab or the ground – it depends on what the plan says, not how the property is configured.

In typical condominiums, the drywall and everything in the bearing walls are within the common area. In attached condominiums, this is important because what happens to the wall of one unit could affect not only adjacent units but many others. Anytime a condominium owner cuts a hole in the drywall, they are usually modifying the common area. Most condominium buyers do not realize the common area is much more than the grounds, hallways, walkways and recreation room.

Homeowners often view everything behind their front door as their business and nobody else’s concern. However, changes in plumbing or wiring could endanger the neighbors if it is not properly performed, and opening up a wall between two…

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