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Should I buy a maintenance free Delaware new home?

Lawn Maintenance- do it yourself or include it in the HOA?

 

The same question about lawn care seems to come in a number of different questions, but the bottom line is this: who will be responsible for lawn care at my new Delaware home?

If you’re going to purchase a Delaware retirement home or a Delaware beach home, you probably don’t imagine yourself driving down on the weekends to cut the grass.  There are so many other great things to do at the Delaware beaches, that taking care of the lawn is something that you are going to want to deal with.

 

For most people who buy new Delaware homes, it is usually easier to say who it is NOT going to be: the homeowner.

Chances are, you aren’t going to cut your own grass- unless you want to cut your own grass.

Lawn care is something that is typically done by someone else at a new Delaware beach home.

So, the real question is whether or not the lawn care is going to be included in the HOA fees or left to the individual homeowner.

Here are some of the items to consider:

 

Let the HOA do it:

Having lawn care included in the HOA fees has some advantages.  First, if your new Delaware beach home is going to be a part-time residence, then this is another detail that will not clutter up your life.  You pay the HOA fees, and the HOA takes care of the yard.  It’s done, and it’s simple.

Second, this plan helps to maintain community standards- you know that your neighbor won’t be that person who doesn’t take care of the grass.  People enjoy living in a well-maintained community, and giving the HOA control helps create that community.

These plans can be relatively simple and also relatively complex.  Some communities just cut the grass and put down some mulch.  Some are much more involved- chemical treatments, central irrigation systems, etc.  There is a great deal of variation in exactly what the builder (who is selling you the lot/home package) means when they say “lawn care included”.  Of course, the cost of the lawn care can vary greatly based upon what the HOA is doing to each lawn.  This is also subject to change by vote in the community at any time.

Economies of scale should make it possible for the HOA to get better pricing when compared to an individual lot owner.  It’s not a guarantee, however, and the grass cutting business is very competitive.

Make sure that the builder gives you enough detail so that you are comfortable.  When you sign a contract to build a new home with most Delaware new home builders, you will be signing a document that states you have read and understand the HOA documents.  This includes the details about the lawn care.

Also, make sure the HOA has an aggressive plan to deal with owners who get behind in their dues payments.  If the HOA doesn’t have enough money to pay the lawn contractor, the entire community could look like a jungle very quickly…

 

Do it yourself:

This method gives you control.  You get to make sure your yard looks the way that you want it.  You are in control of what gets done and what doesn’t get done to your property.  The truth is that there are many lawn care contractors at the Delaware beaches, and it is hard to make an economic case for cutting your own lawn at the beach.

When your HOA isn’t tasked with dealing lawn maintenance, it tends to be a less complicated HOA.  This can make for better neighbors.  There is a strong desire for some Delaware new home buyers to reject a community where they will have to care for their own lawn because of some perceived “lifestyle” that is found in a community that has the HOA care for the lawns.  I worry that, in the long term, communities that have HOA lawn care will be more complicated than the “worry-free” lifestyle offered by HOA’s that cover the costs.