Navigating HOA Rules and the Permitting Process

Following the HOA rules and permitting processes now will save headaches in the future!

Creating the backyard of your dreams can be an exciting time. You start dreaming of lounging poolside and hosting outdoor parties on your new patio.

As experienced outdoor living contractors, we do need to remind you that some of what you want may not be allowed by your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) rules. Another requirement would be to get the permits to build.

We will partner with you to help speed the permitting process. We’ll also review your HOA rules (also known as covenants or by-laws) to ensure that we create outdoor living spaces that meet all the necessary requirements.

We’ve completed thousands of projects throughout Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia. And we make it a point to know what the local regulations are.

Requirements for Trees, Shrubs, and Plants

Traditional landscaping involving living plant matter does not generally require a permit. However, your HOA rules may limit or specify what you can plant and where. Your HOA will also include an Architectural Review Committee (or have a name along those lines).

If you have an HOA, we will review the rules and regulations with you as we create your overall design.

When to Get HOA Approval

It is best then to submit the design plans to your HOA to get written approval to proceed with any outdoor living project. By doing this, you avoid having to make changes to comply with HOA rules.

Even if something isn’t specifically mentioned as against HOA rules, it’s best practice to get written approval before starting your project. And if there are any changes to the initial plans, we will need to get approval for those changes before proceeding.

Projects That Require a Permit

Once we have HOA approval for building structures, the next step will be to secure county and city permits. Be advised, the HOA approval process and permitting process can take weeks if not months.


To build an inground pool in Maryland, DC, or Northern Virginia, you will need a building and an electrical permit. As your pool builder, we will handle applying for and getting the appropriate permits. You should be aware that the permitting process can take several weeks, so it’s important to seek permits as soon as you sign a contract.

In addition, your county will have rules and regulations regarding the location of your pool, and the appropriate department will need to sign off on the site selection. For instance, the pool cannot be too close to your property line.

Some counties may require a grading plan for pool projects if there is a certain amount of disturbance. For most areas in Maryland, it’s 5000 sq. ft. and in Northern Virginia, it’s 2500 sq. ft. This could also entail stormwater management and sediment control too.

infinity pool custom pool


Whether you need a permit or not may depend on the size of the patio, and if it is on a single level. For example, in Prince Georges County, Maryland, patios larger than 500 sq. ft. will require a permit.

Also, if you opt for a multi-level patio, a permit may be needed the walls get to a certain height. Each county has specific height requirements.

Again, we have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate the permitting process and your HOA rules.

deck vs patio


In just about all counties in the DMV, you will need a building permit. Of course, we will help ensure that your project has all of the necessary permits and meets zoning and HOA requirements.

For example, your HOA rules may require you to use certain materials or certain paint or stain colors.


Outdoor Kitchens

While you may not need a building permit to build an outdoor kitchen, we will need permits for the plumbing and electrical work. We will also help ensure your project meets zoning requirements and complies with your HOA rules.


Dream It. Build It. Live It.

If you live in an HOA neighborhood, it’s a good idea to thoroughly read through the covenants and bylaws before you start planning your outdoor living project. You can also ask your neighbors if they ran into issues when they were installing their pool, patio, or deck so that you can avoid the same problems.

And by teaming with the professionals at LiveWell Outdoors, you can save yourself some headaches. Fill out the form to schedule a consultation, or call us at 301-720-1000 to get started.

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