Want to give the exterior of your home a fresh new look… in your favorite shade of pink?
If you live in a community association, chances are you can’t break out the paint cans just yet. Homeowners and property owners associations (POAs) in neighborhoods and condo communities typically include in their covenants a set of architectural restrictions – guidelines and standards aimed at maintaining a community’s particular aesthetic quality and uniformity.
Those rules could include restrictions on exterior colors, construction materials, size of home additions and landscaping.
Not surprisingly, the construction of new homes, as well as renovations or alterations to existing homes, must go through an architectural review process and be approved before work can begin. Depending on the size of your community, architectural review could be conducted by a POA or homeowners association (HOA) board of directors or a separate committee whose members are typically appointed by the board.
Either way, before you submit your paint swatches or floor plans for approval, here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
Know the rules – Since an architectural review committee (ARC) will make decisions on your home-improvement proposal based on your community’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and architectural guidelines, those documents are usually a good place to start when you have an idea.
The ARC’s job is to ensure any changes to the exterior of homes conforms to the architectural standards in the CC&R and architectural guidelines, so the rules can serve as a good guide to whether your design concept is going to fly.
If you’re considering building within a community, carefully review the CC&Rs and architectural guidelines before purchasing to ensure you can live with the regulations – and be able to create your dream home.
If you’re making a small change, like a paint color that isn’t likely to make heads turn, it might be best to simply call your HOA or POA manager to get information on the submittal process.
Be thorough – When requesting approval for your project, the more you can submit to the ARC, the better. Blueprints, schematics, architectural renderings, paint options, samples of building materials, photos, etc. can help ARC members better visualize and understand the finished product and any potential impacts. Including a boundary survey in which you mark the location of your project is helpful, particularly if you want to build something in your yard, such as a fence or other enclosure.
Don’t give up – An initial rejection of your project by the ARC doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your new construction or renovations. Sometimes, the rejection comes with a caveat – a slight change to the proposed plan, additional information, answers to specific questions. Following up with what the ARC requests could make all the difference.
Wait on the work – You may be chomping at the bit to get started on your project but starting too soon (i.e. without formal ARC approval) can cause quite a few headaches. Even if you think approval is imminent, getting it in writing first ensures you won’t have to go back and remove the work that has already been done or postpone the project. And you won’t be subject to any hearings or penalties.
Remember: an ARC isn’t there to make your life difficult. Enforcing guidelines actually helps everyone, since it helps maintain property values and create a community look and feel that each and every resident can enjoy.