Outdoor grilling outside is a great way to get fresh air in the warmer months and keep the heat out of your kitchen. When you live in a condo, your HOA (Homeowners’ Association) might prohibit grills, particularly open-flame grills because a large property fire would be tragic.
The good news is there are alternatives that can keep you within the HOA rules so you can continue to enjoy cooking outside.
One quick thing to note. This article is written from my personal experience as a 10+ year coastal condo community resident. I am not a fire code inspector or a lawyer. Before buying anything, double-check with your Homeowners’ Association, property manager, and/or the local fire code inspector for more information about the condo grill rules that apply to your situation.
Why Condo Grill Rules are needed
Grill rules are needed for the simple reason of preventing fires, especially in the case of multi-family homes. Fires are always terrible and are further amplified when it comes to attached living. A close encounter with a large building fire, which hopefully you will never have, will result in an understanding of why fire prevention rules are no joke.
Living in a townhouse, condo, or other attached houses means multiple homes could have fire, water, and/or smoke damage in the blink of an eye. The moments watching and waiting for the flames to be extinguished are excruciating. You really don’t want to risk starting a fire using an open-flame grill.
And while you think you could be careful and nothing would happen if you sneak in a grill is your insurance policy may not cover damage caused by breaking the rules. The consequences above and beyond putting people’s lives in danger could be financially costly as well if there is an accidental fire.
You should also keep in mind that condo grill rules may change over time. The guidelines acceptable in the past may change in the future. If the grill rules change and you already had an open flame grill, it may be grandfathered in. Or it may not. You’ll need to check with both your HOA and possibly the fire marshal to confirm what applies in your situation. Even if your existing grill is allowed, the rules changed because the risk there is regardless.
Do your part to keep both your home as well as your neighbors’ safe. You would hope that they’d care enough to do the same for you.
Outdoor Grilling Alternative for Condos
If you have a patio or balcony, your HOA may allow outdoor electric grills as an alternative to propane gas or charcoal grills. And there are several options to choose from. If electric grills haven’t been added as an option, you may want to ask them to consider it.
You may not be familiar with outdoor electric grills. There are a few different options available, but given the open-flame grills are more popular, it’s easy to overlook them. Many of the popular choices must be used outside in an open space because they create smoke.
Weber, for example, has two electric grill models available as part of their Q-series: the Q1400 and Q2400. While electric won’t outperform gas or charcoal, it will allow you to grill on a condo patio.
In addition to fire concerns, your HOA may also prohibit grills because of the smoke getting into other homes. In tightly packed condos, the smoke from your balcony or patio may float into the bedroom of one of your neighbors. It can be frustrating to smell your neighbor’s cooking late in the evening while you’re lying in bed. There are a few smokeless options that may be more agreeable to your HOA in that case.
A couple of downsides of electric grills
Electric grills mean not having to refill and carry a heavy propane tank or bag of charcoal. As with everything, there are a few downsides to consider with this type of outdoor grill.
Rain means changing your grilling plans. You already know that electricity and water don’t mix. While you could grill on windy days with an electric grill without worrying about the flame spreading, rain and other wet conditions would be a problem.
Electric grills typically have smaller cooking surfaces. Or for the models that are large, they either expensive or need to be hard-wired on a separate electricity source. The Weber electric grills are great size when you need to cook for a few people. Or if you’re typically cooking for one person, you could grill a main and side dish at the same time. Grilling for larger parties could be a challenge. Instead, get creative with your menu or stagger your dishes.
Final thoughts on Condo Grill Rules
If your HOA or fire marshal has put these rules in place for one important reason: the safety of your and your neighbors. The intention is not to annoy you or stop you from enjoying cooking outside at your home.
Outdoor electric grills are a great option that may be within your HOA’s guidelines. And if they’re not on the list already, consider asking them as they may not have looked into it before.
Have you had any issues with your Homeowners’ association when it comes to grilling outside? Were you able to find a solution that worked for everyone or are you still stuck?