White Vinyl Windows or Brown Vinyl Windows?

Vinyl windows seem to be kind of a hot topic these days. I am getting questions right and left and for once, I have a case to offer with some guidance. The case name is CHAPALA MANAGEMENT CORP. v  STANTON. Some call it the “Brown Window Case.” Here is one of the questions/scenarios:
“I came across your website as I was looking into my situation with my HOA board. I am trying to get approval for white vinyl windows since my windows leak and are old. The neighbor right next to me has white windows and I went to a board meeting back in October of last year and asked if I could get White Windows as well. I was told it would be okay and I need to send in a request. Now fast forward a few months and ask for the form to switch the windows out to the white windows and get declined since they request bronze colored. How can they approve it for one neighbor and not me now?
Is there any rules or regulations against this? I feel like I am being discriminated against since I am trying to improve my house during the rough times as I just purchased the house.”
If the association standards call for bronze framed vinyl windows rather than white framed, the board can probably enforce it. Of course there are factors that can jeopardize a board’s ability to enforce successfully and inconsistent treatment (approving them for one party and not another) could be one of those factors. Be careful though as there are things that could be problematic for an owner that goes forward to install unapproved windows. There may be some reason why the board changed course on the windows that could justify the conduct.
In the case mentioned, the board did not approve sandstone-colored  vinyl windows but the owner installed them anyway. The board said the window frames had to be painted brown as that was the requirement. The owner said that the board was inconsistent as it had allowed some windows to be other colors than brown,and that the browns allowed were not all exactly the same brown. The board did offer evidence that it had allowed non-brown frames in windows that were not in the front of the house but it was consistent about requiring brown in the front.
The association won the case and the owner had to repaint and had to pay the association’s hefty attorney fees (or at least $60,000+ of them).  So bucking the system can be painful!
The court questioned the sanity of the parties taking the fight to court and paying exhorbitant legal fees when the cost of painting the frames was about $300. It appeared the court did not really want to order that the fees of the association be reimbursed by the owner, and questioned why the association did not do the painting and charge the owner as the governing documents allowed. But the law calls for attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing party in such a lawsuit.
Food for thought! Is it worth the risk to fight the board?
PS – I know that some will say painting vinyl window frames invalidates the warranty but other installers say it’s not been a problem – that is another debate.
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