Hot Roofs, Cool Roofs, and a New Moon

Hot Roofs, Cool Roofs, and a New Moon

By Brian P. McLean, Leahy McLean Fjelstad

People’s tastes and technologies change. Restrictive covenants don’t, at least not without the consent of a significant number of affected owners in the hamlets we call neighborhoods and community associations. Sometimes the consent of 100%  of affected owners is required before the covenants change, no matter how much they heat the tar and ruffle the feathers of a mob.

In Washington State, the battle between cedar shingles, because the covenants require them, and composite shingles, because they may offer better value, functionality, and looks, is one example of the type of high-level “meta” disputes that fuel community dysfunction. That dysfunction waxes and wanes along with the different phases of the moon, until a full moon draws out the lawyers. And once in a blue moon the lawmakers may set public policy that changes everything again.

In Maryland, there’s a battle raging between cool roofs and hot roofs. Dark (hot) roofs retain heat. White (cool) roofs reflect heat. In the summer, the cool class rules. In winter, the dark class rules. An epic insoluble feud like that between the houses of Gryffindor and Slytherin.

Buried beneath the ruins is the long-standing assumption drafted into many governing documents that uniformity satisfies the primal urge of suburban dwellers. But we know there’s no way you can make everyone happy. It’s much easier to make everyone equally unhappy.

Which leaves us with several questions. Shingle roofs or composite roofs? Cool roofs or hot roofs? Gryffindor or Slytherin? To be or not to be?

No wonder Hamlet was named after a small town.

For an interesting article in Gazette.net on cool roofs by Danielle E. Gaines, click here.

About Brian P. McLean

BRIAN P. McLEAN is an attorney and shareholder at Leahy McLean Fjelstad in Seattle, Washington. He concentrates his practice in the area of community association law. He received his law and undergraduate degrees from Seattle University, where he was a member of Law Review, chair of the law school’s Moot Court Board, and commencement speaker for his graduating class. Brian speaks and writes frequently about community association issues, is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, and is a former board member of the Washington State Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (WSCAI) where he served as president from 2009 - 2010. He served previously as chair of WSCAI’s Legislative Action Committee, where he worked with state legislators to enact mandatory reserve study legislation in Washington State. Brian is former lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the now defunct Pacific Northwest band the Acetones.
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One Response to Hot Roofs, Cool Roofs, and a New Moon

  1. LizE says:

    Fascinating! How about a by-law that states a roof must be installed correctly before sale, no matter what the material is. That would be my vote.

    After a leak last year, we discovered that not one, not two, but three roofs had been installed on hour house. We have a flat roof. This had been done with county approval. Instead of fixing leaks, the previous owner had simply “re-roofed” over the leaks. For owners with flat roofs, think about the weight this adds to the house. We were told that if our area ever experienced a significant earthquake, this roof could collapse. The beams simply were not made to hold this much weight.

    There are no covenants or by-laws to govern experiences such as this. The County approved the previous roof installations. The inspector did not do roofs when the home was inspected prior to purchase, so we examined it ourselves.

    Now we have one brand new roof on our home, but for others, “Buyer, beware.”

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