Kristin Bodkin's Blog
While they have become ubiquitous with the emergence of suburban neighborhoods and townhouses, homeowners associations (HOA, for short) are a relatively new phenomenon.
In modern America, there are many ways to live: apartments, condominiums, houses, townhouses, and now even “tiny houses” are gaining traction. But it wasn’t until the late 1900s that property owners began to experiment with alternative ways of living that revolved around share, “common spaces.”
What constitutes a common area?
Whether you live in an apartment, a house, or in your RV you likely experience common areas every day that are owned by the government. Roads, bridges, and parks are all common areas in that they are used by multiple people and their upkeep is paid for with taxes.
If you take that analogy and apply it to the greenways and lobbies of a condominium, or the streets and sidewalks of a gated community, there are few differences.
What is a homeowners association?
When a developer plans a new community they will often create a homeowners association that will be managed by the people who move into the houses or condominiums. Once a certain number of people have moved into the development and joined the HOA the developer will typically hand over ownership to the HOA and relinquish their legal rights and responsibilities of the land. From there, the HOA typically has complete control over management. Though it should be noted that states have their own HOA related laws with varying levels of oversight.
What does an HOA do?
The most common thing we associate with HOAs is fees and rules. People who move into a community governed by a homeowners association are typically required to join the HOA and are therefore obligated to pay fees and adhere to the guidelines set down by the HOA board.
The fees you pay will go towards maintenance and development of the common areas of your community. That usually amounts to landscaping, maintaining pools and fitness complexes. Fees can range from anywhere between $200 and $450 per month depending on where you live.
HOAs also enforce regulations that homeowners must follow. These vary depending on the community but often include building restrictions for things like fences and additions, as well as other ways that homeowners can customize their homes such as paint and vinyl color. Some homeowners associations go so far as to regulate whether or not a homeowner may fly the flag on their favorite sports team over their door.
Advantages and disadvantages
So what are the advantages and disadvantages you can expect when you belong to a homeowners association? Let’s start with the clear disadvantages. If you are a tinkerer or someone who relishes the freedom to do what they want with their property, living in an HOA-run community might not be right for you. If your salary isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, the cost of living in an HOA neighborhood, along with the monthly fees, might be a bit more than you’re comfortable with.
What about the advantages? First, you can expect that the neighborhood will be well-maintained. This brings about another advantage in that you can expect your property value to grow or at least remain stable thanks to the quality of the neighborhood being carefully managed.
One problem that just about every homeowner faces is that of a lack of storage space. There’s plenty of hidden storage spaces in your home that you may be overlooking. Sometimes you have to get creative with the space that you do have. Here, we’ll give you some hints and idea as to where you can store things without moving anything in your home.
It’s very easy to extend the shelving in your home upward. If you look up, and there’s a lot of empty space, there’s a lot of possibilities for storage. You can add shelving directly to the wall or replace smaller shelving units with taller ones. Keep a step stool handy in order to reach any items that you may need access to.
The Stairs Go Further Than Up
If you have large spaces under staircases that you aren’t using, you’re missing out on major possibilities for storage. There are ways that you can make an under-the-stairs closet space. You can install shelving and fit a door over the area, completely transforming it. If a door won’t work for you, try a room screen or even a curtain. The best part is that anything you store in the space will be concealed and easily accessed.
Redesign Your Closet
Closets tend to become overfilled quickly. If you peer inside of the closet and see a bunch of wasted space, there's some opportunity for reorganization there. You can add shelving to the back of the closet for additional storage. You can also move rods and other shelving around in order to add more practical space to put things.
Look Under The Cabinets
There’s plenty of storage space under your cabinets. You should get stackable storage bins for under the bathroom sink, for example. It’s a great place to keep extra toothpaste, cleaning supplies, and soap. In the kitchen, be sure that every cabinet has a purpose. Use a spice rack to keep herbs and spices in order. You can use something as simple as a towel bar and install it on a cabinet door to organize pot lids.
Use Your Doors
There’s plenty of clever and inexpensive things that can be used to organize your things using closet and room doors. Everything from hanging baskets to shoe racks and bags can be easily installed just by hanging a unit over the door.
Find The Nooks
Just about everyone has a space in between their fridge and a wall. Depending upon how much space you actually have, you can do some incredible things with this space. Consider every option from a broom closet to a mini pantry that rolls out.
The most important part of organization and storage is that you find what you need easily. Use the above tips to create your own unique storage spaces within your home.