Is Your Homeowner Association Holding Exterior Colors Hostage?

HOA exterior paint colors are supposed to prevent outrageous color choices and protect property value. When it comes to your home exterior, a good rule of thumb is to “stand out while still fitting in.” However, how far does your neighborhood homeowner association (HOA) go to ensure your idea of fitting in aligns with theirs? One in four homeowners reports that their HOA exterior colors restrict them from freely selecting their exterior materials. Many HOAs limit the choices to a handful of preselected colors to maintain community unity. Why do HOAs force you to use a limited color palette?

Why an HOA?

One purpose of an HOA is to protect individual homeowners’ property values. HOA’s strict color and material restrictions can ease homeowners’ concerns about how a neighbor’s ugly exterior choice might impact the value of their home.

Here’s the bad news. The covenants imposed by some homeowner’s organizations are holding colors hostage to create conformity rather than individuality.

A set of approved options can be a good solution for some HOAs. However, most HOAs have limited the possibilities to a small selection that keeps their residents from “creating with personality.” These limitations are unfortunate since having a home with a striking exterior can be both an asset and a source of pride for its owners.

Why Limit a Homeowner’s Options?

HOA exterior paint colors are designed to enhance neighborhood aesthetics.

Where does the problem come in?  Even with the best intentions, a homeowner may choose a paint that is bolder than they anticipated. You know, the house that you can’t help but notice because it is different — but not in a good way. The one that clashes with everyone else’s home and stands out like a sore thumb. The one causing neighbors to be concerned that this house will bring down the neighborhood’s image and, thus, the value of their homes. No one wants to be the owner of “that house” in a community.

By limiting options, pre-approved HOA exterior paint colors maintain the neighborhood’s aesthetics. It doesn’t mean these are the only colors that could preserve the overall appearance. But they’re playing it safe. The palette keeps them from needing design skills to make an approval decision. It also leaves no room for a homeowner to challenge the board’s decision since they only approve colors that don’t upset other homeowners.

Anyone who understands color knows that many colors can work in any community. Rather than offering very few color options for paint and roofs, HOAs would do better to provide a more extensive range of colors. These could be similar in value and intensity, so they’d all work beautifully together. The key is finding a version of the color that blends with the neighborhood or stands out subtly.

HOA exterior paint colors can feel limiting, but online color tools can help you find a palette that suits your home.

For example, a community that embraces gray has many options. They can rule out the high-end spectrum of zealous bright green while identifying calmer green-gray or quiet beige-y greens. The color range could also include muted blue-gray and blue-green. They have personality and fit with the approved HOA exterior colors.

Why Colors Go Wrong

I’ve found that when homeowners end up with a color their neighbors consider a “wrong choice,” it is usually because the color turned out considerably bolder or brighter than expected. Why? Because without experience, most people don’t recognize that a color they love on a small swatch will be more intense when applied to their home exterior.  Unfortunately, many HOA approval boards need more expertise to guide homeowners’ color selections. Often they are just as likely to make the same mistake without in-depth color knowledge.

Even More FRESH Ideas for Selecting Colors for Your Home Exterior

  • For more help finding the perfect color scheme for your home, our ebooks offer easy-to-follow processes for choosing the colors in every part of your home. Download a free ebook.
  • Visualize from roof to ground the products and colors that complement your home. Go to the DaVinci Color Visualizer
  • See pictures of homes and buildings that feature DaVinci Slate and Shake. Visit the photo gallery.

This blog was originally published April 18, 2012

About the Author

Kate SmithKate Smith Headshot is an internationally recognized color expert, consultant, and designer. She is a skilled colorist & a color consultant who, for more than a decade, has lent her expertise to DaVinci Roofscapes. Kate helps YOU select colors you will love for many years.