One of the significant features of living in a homeowners association is having your home improvements reviewed by an architectural review board. If you are in a small community, this review is usually performed by the Board of Directors. If you live in a rather large community, other homeowners usually volunteer to serve on a committee. These homeowners will sometimes have backgrounds in construction or design.
The purpose of the architectural review committee is to ensure that your improvements conform to a set of standards appropriate for your community and to preserve the value of homes within the community. If you look around your community you will notice that the exterior colors of the homes follow a certain trend. White, beige, gray and other muted colors are typically the norm. Some higher end communities require a brick or stucco facade. These requirements are generally required by the developer when a community is first started. Other significant builder requirements include side entry garages. As with all other things we talk about in the blog, always refer to your Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions for your particular community requirements.
It is a good rule of thumb that any improvement to the exterior of your property be submitted to the architectural review board. This includes paint colors for your home (even if you are using the same color), fences, pools and screen enclosures. Also included would be additions to the home.
To expedite the architectural review process, make sure you have a copy of your Final Boundary Survey to submit with your plans, especially if they include fences, pools or screen enclosures. You will have to submit these items for county building permits as well, so make some additional copies while you’re at it. Draw on your survey the location of your improvement, a description of the materials used and an approximate time until completion. Check your association documents to see if there are particular requirements for fences. Some communities allow wood fences, other do not. If you live on a retention pond, some communities require that the fence stop at the top of the lake bank and not proceed towards the water. If you plan to repaint your home, submit color swatches and indicate the finish of the paint (flat or gloss), indicate which color is your primary and which is the trim color and a time frame for completion.
Once you have compiled all the needed information, submit them to the architectural review board or Board of Directors. Do not start your improvement until you receive approval from them, regardless of the time frame placed on you by your contractor. Most documents will state that you will receive an answer in 30 days, but always check your community documents. However, if the architectural review board requests more information that you did not submit before hand, it is possible that the time table resets upon the receipt of additional information. It is better to provide as much information up front.