Monday, June 6, 2011

HOA Has Their Dang Panties in A Bunch

One day a couple of weeks ago we were delighted to receive not one but two letters from our Homeowners Association. Two on the same day. They were writing just to say hi, lookin' good.

Not really.

They were writing because in one of their panoptical surveillance drive-bys of the subdivision, they decided that our house and yard were failing to meet the design standards put in place to beautify our neighborhood and protect all of our property values. And they knew we would want to be informed of this breach in our covenant with them as soon as possible.

One of the letters directed us to, "Please trim back shrubs/bushes in front of house." Fair enough. We have this giant snowball verbena bush that blooms in early spring, and then goes totally bananas foster with the leafing out. Going crazy and reaching for the sky. Huge bush. I have actually blogged about this thing before, and the difficulties of grooming it due to its position at the edge of a little cliff on the side of our house. I've blogged about it multiple times. It is probably the most blogged-about bush in the county. Except for the Real Housewives of Atlanta. badum-CHING!

Yeah, so the second letter said, in bold type, "Please pressure and/or paint the rusted chimney." I am sure they meant "pressure wash," as that rust stain has ignored my pressure for five years. Our chimney cap had rusted and stained the siding on the chimney underneath it. We had the chimney cap repainted when our roof was replaced this winter, but the stain remained. It's not that we liked the stain, but we have been living with it because one time Matt climbed up on the roof with a bottle of CLR and it was nearly the last thing he did on this earth. Our roof is too steep and the chimney, we decided, was accessible only to God.

So when Matt saw that letter, he had some really heartfelt things to say in response. Very heartfelt and colorful. I listened to him and validated his frustration because it's important to do that in a marriage. Then I went about trying to find someone crazy enough to get up on that roof. And Reader, I found him.

In your neighborhood, do you get handymen and other entrepreneurial types taping flyers to your mailbox to advertise their services? We do, and I think those flyers are a nuisance. They blow everywhere and make litter. But I called one of those guys. His name is John and he came on the double. He seemed undaunted by the immense precariousness involved in the job and quoted me a very reasonable price. Friday morning, bright and early, he set to work pressure washing our entire house and cleaning the chimney.

He was here for twelve hours.

Over the course of the afternoon I progressed from offering him cold drinks to wanting to fix him a hearty meal and tuck him in bed. Dude was working. I was afraid we would break him. I was afraid he would fall to his death. I was afraid he would run out of daylight before he got the chimney cleaned, but as twilight deepened, he was packing up his ladders and the house looked great. The pressure washing is totally one of those things where you don't realize how dirty it was until it's clean. Anyway, this John has gumption and he does everything. I feel that I have found a treasure beyond rubies.

Meanwhile, inside where it's air conditioned, an electrician spent a few hours hanging a chandelier and fixing our smoke detectors and left with twice what I paid John. Message: Kids, learn a trade.

On Friday while this was happening I was like, "Oh, it is so exhausting supervising tradesmen! Swoon!" And Matt was like, "How exactly did they change how you spent your day in any way?" And I had no great answer but men don't really understand these things.

Between my pressure-washed exterior and my new chandelier, I feel like I have a new house. The old house was soiled, but now I have a fresh one! It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Plus, the HOA will be off our backs, because weekend before last, I also purchased a motorized hedge trimmer and made the effort of personally asking Matt to work on the verbena while I was in the mountains. Which he did. And when I got back, we walked outside and I said, "Okay honey, let's talk about your work on the shrubbery. Walk me through your vision." Because there was a big notch cut out of the verbena, like it's missing a tooth, and Matt explained that no human could have reached that spot so he just held the hedge trimmer above his head and cut whatever he could reach. Like a bad haircut, I guess it will grow out. Also his work was free.

Believe it or not, this story could have branched out in several more directions but I know that you are wishing you could throw yourself off my roof right now, so I will close. I hope you had a good weekend and that all of your labors are bearing fruit.


Elle said...

Are you serious? This was tasty & delicious! I am fascinated by this fanciful, omnipotent Homeowners' Association, first of all: you are in a covenant to protect property values? Wha-aat? They send you letters about yr missteps? Can they write tickets?

All the rest is the kind of What-Then Minutiae I love to see documented by someone who can craft a narrative with facility and wordsmithing power. I am sad to hear you had more but it isn't here to read.

You might like that you have given me an entry into our spring mischief in us. The Cat Lady thinks the P.D. is the same as an HOA to complain to. Yes, I have said this. xo

Jenni said...

Me to Nelson last Friday, "The contractors were here early this morning to fix the roof, and then Maria was here to clean the house - it was crazy." And then he looked at me like I was crazy. Men really don't understand things. I mean, pest control is coming by tomorrow, and I need to water the garden. It's going to be totally ridiculous.

Kelly said...

I would like this John's number! Our house is desperate for a good scrubbing. We have no HOA yet to hassle us but I hope they get organized soon and talk to the guy whose weeds are higher than his mailbox...

puncturedbicycle said...

Ooh, I love that feeling, when everything is lovely and shiny and clean and it's a surprise that it looks as nice as that because you get used to living with it looking as is.
My most first-world spoiled-lady truth is that I find it super stressful having people working in the house. Embarrassing but there you go.

Elizabeth said...

"My most first-world spoiled-lady truth is that I find it super stressful having people working in the house."

You're not the only one. My life is a never-ending cycle of contractor hell. Becky, I found a handyman myself a couple of weeks ago that I actually liked and seems capable of doing what I asked him to do. Actually, the guy works for what is I think some national outfit. I'm about to call back to get him to do some other stuff, and I'm terrified they're going to say he's gone. Good luck with yours!

Joie said...

I feel your pain.

My HOA just sent me a speeding ticket for going 26 in a 20.

The problem with that? They said that I was doing the speeding by our back gate area. I NEVER go near our back gate and it's a 150 or 20 minute drive, and I live about a block from our front gate.

That being said, the day they said I was speeding was a day that I had forgotten my debit card and was SO FAR beyond E on my tank, that I barely made it home...I had to use our lawnmower gas to get back out to a gas station the next morning.

But they don't "allow" for people to debate the issues when there is no "proof".


M said...

This was a priceless post. We chose a neighborhood without an HOA because I feared the wrath of block captains. Now I know why.

We did have to endure a brief period with a neon blue house once, but mainly folks just deal with whatever a neighbor does that drives them insane and then move on. But, frankly, no one here has quite gotten up the nerve to let their chimney rust.

You made my summer with this post. Please write this hilariously daily for the next three months.

laura said...

Y'know I was driving through Stepford Knolls just the other day and I was feeling a little sad because I couldn't afford one of the houses in that cute neighborhood of mid-century traditional homes with their mature trees and shrubs and flowers. And then I read your blog and remembered the HOA. Thanks Becky, you saved me about a half a million dollars. (that is you saved me a half mill if I had it to spend)

Elizabeth said...

On the contrary, my shoulders shook while I read this (trying to keep quiet) -- I particularly loved the part where Matt trimmed the verbena -- the visuals were great.

I say keep going!

kathy said...

Thank God we live in a neigborhood that does that have an HOA. We would never be off the *#%! list. Right now we know the house needs pressure washing, but it is low on the priority list. We also know the shrubs outside look pitiful and need to be replaced but it's 101 degrees outside. So, we'll just have to let the neighbors grumble behind our backs until we get around to these and other outside issues. By the way, the inside needs some work too. Oh well, one issue at a time at my less than hasty pace.

Amy said...

Your HOA seems a little...intense. This post was hilarious, though! I for real LOL'ed at the Real Housewives line. You're on fire, girl!

Hootie said...

"Okay honey, let's talk about your work on the shrubbery. Walk me through your vision."

A person could construct an entire situation comedy around this line.

Kara said...

Seiously! I looooove your wit! My kids keep asking me why I keep giggling! And thank goodness we do not have an HOA...with three kids, a hockey net, a basketball hoop, a lacrosse net, and a full fledged sliding black mesh net hung sky high and between two trees to keep various balls and children from leaving our yard, oh how my neighbors love us. We make their houses look so good!

Megan said...

When you described Matt's reaction to the letter, I cracked up. You are making me love my pathetic, opt-in HOA. I happen to be my neighborhood's lame HOA VP ("lame" is intended to qualify both HOA and VP). A few weeks ago, our HOA P emailed me that "we have solicitors near the entrance!" I emailed back with a very powerful, "Um, yeah, okay, and...?" Darn proud of that. Going to list it as an accomplishment on my resume.

AlGalMom said...

Nothing brings out my inner libertarian more than homeowners associations. A former coworker loved to tell the story of a guy who, when told by his HOA that there were only three approved colors he could paint his house, used those three colors to paint his home in stripes. It is a testament to your wit that I was not still fuming at the HOA by the end of your post :)

gretchen said...

I agree with everyone - I'm always up for more directions from Becky. You're trying to go by those rules of successful blogging you learned in that seminar at BlogHer, aren't you? Keeping it short?

I have to admit that the first time I read the sentence "fix him a hearty meal and tuck him in bed." I swear that I thought you'd said "fix him a hearty meal and (insert another word that ends in uck) him in bed." HA.

You know, we live in a Historical Preservation Zone, and everybody's always going on about what a pain the HOA is, worrying that we all "maintain the historical integrity of the house". But when I read about the HOAs in other parts of the country, I realize we have it EASY. Our guys are mostly just happy if you don't pave over your front yard and use it as a parking lot, or paint your house fuchsia.