I would like to add a second story addition to my home. My homeowners
association limits building height to 18 feet and also states that the
roof must have a minimum pitch of 4 inches in 12 inches. Is it
possible to have a second story addition larger than 12 feet wide with
this roof requirement and also be within the 18 foot height limit?
Thanks for the help.
That is like asking how many people can a car carry without telling us the
make and model. There are many factors involved such as how high your
current house is to the top of the ceiling joists. 18 feet is not much space
to fit a second story even within the roofline, as used to be called a half
story (Cape Cod style).
It depends on your first floor ceiling height, and where the maximum
height will be measured from.
It's borderline, regardless. In essence the HOA's regulations
preclude a second floor while providing guidelines. Guidelines that
essentially create a physical impossibility are not guidelines but a
shadow prohibition. Such things make lawyers happy - on both
sides...it keeps them busy.
The first floor ceiling height is 8 ft.
However, the new addition may be put at the side of the house with the
new bottom floor being a large covered patio (floor of new addition
providing patio cover). The land that the house sits on is a datum of
192 ft. above sea leve. The HOA restructs construction of 210 ft.
above sea level.
I don't think you even need to get into the roof pitch, dormers, etc
to figure this out.
You only have 18ft max at the peak. Let's assume the first floor is
2ft above grade.
You have 8ft ceilings on the first floor. Lets' assume 8" for
attic joists and 8" for new roof. Working backward, you
have 18-2-8-1.5 = 6.5ft for the second floor height at the PEAK. End
You can adjust that to fit exactly what you have, but unless the first
is well below grade, I don't see it changing it so that it works.
The other thing worth checking is how they define the height limit
if they even define it at all. Around here, it would be the peak.
If that is the case, and your house has the highest grade elevation,
the HOA has effectively prohibited only _you_ from putting on a second
Do me a favor - post the section of your HOA agreement that covers the
elevation thing. I want to see how exactly it's worded.
Yes, it is interesting, isn't it? I've never heard of a building
height restriction based on sea level as opposed to just
stating it as height above ground level. But HOAs can
do just about anything. I wonder what the terrain is like
in the area. For example, as you point out, if he happens
to be on a high spot, then he would be prevented from
putting up a second story, while other homes might not.
Do other homes have 2 stories? If they do, he might
have a case that the HOA has unjustly denied him the
right to a second story. But, good luck with that.
Fighting the HOA would probably cost more than the
addition and he might not win.
Other factors to consider are zoning laws. For example,
house total square footage relative to lot size, setbacks, etc.
The addition would have to comply with all of those and some,
like setbacks, could even have changed since the house
was built. That could be an addional hurdle and if he needs any
variances, good luck with that too.
Then dig a hole.
My nasty neighbor called the building deparatment when my deck was
falling apart (I was going to get to it.) I was going to build a
new deck but noticed part was still good, the 20 inches of the old one
that say under the overhang. All I had to do was nail; a decorative
board to the end of the 2x8's.
A railing wasn't needed because the deck was under nn inches high.
The morning that the inspector was coming, I measured again, and
somehow the deck was an inch higher and needed a railing, before 10AM.
I couldn't lower the deck so I raised the ground. (I bought some
"building height" may not mean what you think it means. It's not
necessarily measured from the ground to the peak of the roof. The
building height may be measured from the ground to the point halfway
between the bottom of the eave and the peak of a gable roof. Look at the
building/zoning code carefully.
But what? is "what they say"? What is what they mean?. If
"building height" itself is not defined in the doctuments, or is
defined ambigously**, well, ambiguous documents are interpreted
against the interest of the party to write the document. In this
case, that's not the OP.
**A real likiehood I think. Things that seem clear at first are often
not clear.,. The OP should post all the text from any document that
deals with building height. We might find an ambiguity, and a
property lawyer might find one we can't find.
Bullshit -- the OP has made it clear -- no part of any structure
on lands covered by the HOA documents may extend above 210 feet
above sea level... That is in no way ambiguous...
The OP would need to consult a condominium lawyer who is familiar
with state laws in the OP's state regarding how condominium disputes
are handled... The HOA's authority on allowing for any external
modifications to structures within its area of control is absolute...
That means even if some proposed project complies with all local
building codes, the board of directors in charge of the HOA can
reject it based on several other reasons built into the document,
and such reasons need not be disclosed as any activity which
requires HOA approval can simply not receive it... Like changing
paint color, requesting to plant some landscaping inside an area
of control, widening a driveway, etc -- all things that typically
require receiving permission to do such work in areas governed
Reply to a request can simply be: "Requested Permission DENIED"
That is what you have to live with and the outcomes of votes by
an HOA board can appear entirely random, some requests being
approved and some being denied depending on who is in office on
the board of directors...
BTW, I meant to say to you, OP, that in some states, there is
different law for homeowners association and for condominiums, and in
some states the law is sparse, in which case it's probably regular
coroporation law that fills in what's missing.
This is a crummy argument. The OP is not quoting. He's interpreting.
He believes it means what he's been told it means. It might, but it
might not. He needs a fresh person to look at it., and one who's
not already opposed to his plans.
If anyone could read a contract and the contract would mean what
anyone thinks it means, we wouldn't need contract lawyers.
So we agree!
Probably nothing in the law is absolute. Especially if the original
documents were poorly drawn.
"Several other reasons"? I doubt there is more than one reason that
could apply here.
Of coruse complying with building codes won't make acceptable a
project that doesn't conform to enforceable HOA rules. The questions
remain, what are the rules and are they enforceable?. As to the
second half, they probably are, but no lawyer would venture an opinion
based on what little has been offered here, any more than a doctor
would venture an opinion on someone's medical problem based on a short
post, wiritten by the patient.
Huh? Of course the Board's reason has to be disclosed. In
practice, they might refuse to talk, but in court they would have to,
or they'd lose. Why wouldn't they want to disclose the reason if
it's a valid one?
Of course in practice that can be the answer, but in court they will
have to be explicit. Not only that, a board that acted so
imperiously as to give no reason might well find it out on its keester
after the members come up for another vote, and the new board might
rule diferently just because the old board was so annoying.
Some people ask for the moon when they're not entitled to anything,
and some people who are entrtled to what they ask for just roll over
and hold their eyes closed when they don't get it. You can find
plenty of examples of both, plus plenty of examples of the other two
combinations, including people who are refused their rights and who
get them in court or at the ballot box later.
AFAIK, the OP never posted exactly what the wording was.
What he posted was:
" The HOA restructs construction of 210 ft. above sea level. "
However, I doubt that he needs a HOA expert lawyer to interpret
the HOA document actually says.
He can go waste time on lawyers, get opinions, etc. But at
the end of the day, if in plain english it says you can't have
a building extend above 210 ft sea level, then it's over.
Unless you think starting a legal battle with a HOA that doesn't
care how much it costs to litigate the case is a good idea.
I'd also look around and see if any other homes have
a second story. If they don't, pretty good indication that his
isn't going anywhere.
Granted there are some contracts and parts of many contracts
that need a lawyer to get through the legal crap. But if the HOA
documents say "no structure allowed to extend above 210ft
sea level", I'd say that is one that doesn't need legal
If a town zoning ordinance says a house needs a 20 ft side yard
clearance, would you need a legal opinion on what that means
before you figure out if you meet it for a building permit?
Nothing is absolute as long as you're willing to spend more than
the addition would cost in legal fees battling an HOA. Many HOA's
live for this. And after spending all the legal fees, you could very
How could you know that? We have no idea what the rest of the
On Sat, 26 Nov 2011 06:43:38 -0800 (PST), " firstname.lastname@example.org"
I wasn't saying the OP had a real chance of winning in court, or even
that there was any issue to litigate. Mayyybe there is but I certainly
don't know. I was just taking issue writh the previous poster who
made it sound like HOAs are always right and/or always win.
The rest of your post is fine.
You're not thinking out of the box.
Build it as high as you want.
Then discover you have water intrusion. Only way to fix it is to add
three feet of fill and topsoil to your yard, sloping it away.
Now your house is three feet less above grade.
If you're lucky the HOA is lazy enough you only have to do it on the
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