The Hidden Cost of Hardwood Floors for HOAs

Hardwood floors can increase property values in condo units by improving the aesthetic value and helping to alleviate dust allergies. This may seem like a no brainer but many homeowners are shocked to find (often after it’s too late) that this is a restricted and sometimes prohibited upgrade to their unit.

But why? What’s not to love about hardwood as an alternative to carpeted flooring?

The biggest complaint comes from lower units about the increased noise coming through the ceiling – often referred to as “sound transfer”. Many homeowners have not considered their flooring upgrade as a nuisance to neighbors but the fact is, hard wood amplifies the sound of footsteps – especially when high heels and running children are involved. The last thing anyone wants is to tip toe in their own home.

For this reason, HOAs have the legal right to require written approval before the installation of hardwood floors. More specifically, the CC&Rs often restrict owners from altering units in a way that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining unit, including, but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering that increases sound transmission to any lower unit.

Failure to get such upgrades approved before installation can result in legal battles. In the past, requiring the top unit to place throw rugs over much of the floor, adding an insulation sound barrier or even the reinstallation of carpet flooring has settled such disputes.

At first glance hardwood flooring seems like a homer, but upon further inspection, it’s easy to see why it’s such a hot button issue and is important to keep in mind for homeowners and HOA boards alike.

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