Summer is the season for outdoor celebration.
Between backyard barbecues, pool parties, graduation shindigs and 4th of July festivities, your calendar may already be full of weekend and after-hours events.
Other than the December holiday season, the summer months are the busiest time of year for social functions. But if you’re planning any get-togethers of your own, you’ll want to put “Review my community’s policies, rules and regulations” at the very top of your to-do list.
Before making a guest list or menu, consider our tips for having some warmer-weather fun that won’t leave your neighbors hot around the collar… or land you in hot water with your association.
Dust off the handbook
All community and condominium associations aren’t operating from one standard set of rules and regulations.
Guidelines can vary widely from association to association, so you’ll want to do a quick refresher about your association’s policies, rules and regulations regarding outdoor events at your home and in common areas, if applicable.
Most associations, for example, will allow residents to reserve the clubhouse which is usually attached to the pool area, however, not the pool itself
. In fact, you may even have to request permission to have a pool party, because such an event is likely to go beyond your allotted number of guests and could potentially disturb other pool-goers.
If you want to reserve the clubhouse, remember that you aren’t the only one in the mood to party! Reservations for common facilities fill up fast this time of year, so check to make sure the space will be available when you need it.
If you’ve forgotten where you tucked away the hard copy of your handbook, head to your computer – most community associations post their handbooks online.
Play it safe
Firing up the grill, blowing up those pool floats and setting off festive fireworks might all be summertime traditions, but they’re also potential safety hazards.
Depending on your community, open flames may or may not be permitted in the common areas.
You should, of course, always be cautious when dealing with fire, even if it’s in your own backyard. But use even more caution when planning to cook out around a condo.
The fire code requires that outdoor grills be a minimum of 10 feet from a building, so obviously, setting one up on a condo porch is a big no-no. And if you’re throwing on the charcoal and dousing it with lighter fluid, you may want to add a few more feet to that requirement.
Many condominium buildings and homes have vinyl siding – a very flammable material – so there’s no harm in using a little extra discretion if it means avoiding a potentially devastating and tragic accident.
It should go without saying, then, that fireworks cannot be set off around condo buildings or houses. But if your community includes a marina and you’re thinking it’s safe to light them up over the water, think again. Most motorized watercraft have vented fuel tanks, so a spark picked up by the wind could end in major damage to docked boats and marina facilities, with potential injuries to your guests or neighbors.
The same level of caution should be applied to swimming. Consider how to monitor guests – especially if there are young ones in your pool – and it may be prudent to keep tabs on the amount of alcohol served to adults. It never hurts to also check with your association about your personal liability, should an injury to a guest or damage to common-area property occur during your party.
Warmer weather and longer days are certainly a cause for celebration. But be sure your parties don’t inconvenience your neighbors.
If you are having a gathering at your home, keep in mind your community’s parking restrictions. Condo associations, for example, often designate a certain number of spaces per unit, and many communities do not allow cars to park along the roadway.
Give your guests specific instructions about where to park – and where not to park – and encourage carpooling or calling an Uber. Let your surrounding neighbors know about your upcoming party as a courtesy. Who knows – they may volunteer their extra spaces or driveway to accommodate the overflow.
When in doubt about your community’s guidelines, just ask the experts! Your community management company can answer questions or advise you on any concerns you may have.
One final tip
: While policies, rules and regulations, preparation and planning don’t exactly say party, it’s so much easier to kick back and relax when you know you’ve checked off every item on that to-do list and won’t have major headaches to deal with the next day.
Mike Stonestreet is a 28-year veteran of the professional HOA management industry who has achieved one of the highest education-based designations in the field, that of Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Community Association Management Services (CAMS) has been a leading association management company since its inception in 1991. CAMS is a trusted provider of management services for more than 265 associations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. To find out how CAMS can benefit your community, call 910-256-2021, email [email protected], or visit www.CAMSmgt.com.