Does a Homeowners Association Need an Architectural Review Committee?
August 19, 2014 / by HOA Manager
Most homeowners associations have a set of written design review standards and processes. Some homeowners mistakenly believe these standards restrict their freedom of individual expression; actually they provide a framework within which each homeowner can express individual tastes and preferences. The standards have been carefully developed to reflect a balance between individual rights and property values in the Association.
Why do we need processes and guidelines to maintain architectural standards?
Perhaps most importantly, we need a basis for treating all homeowners fairly and reasonably. Written guidelines allow homeowners and the design review committee to work from the same criteria.
Sometimes architectural requirements can be complex. The guidelines show exactly what is required, and help design improvements that comply with the Association’s standards.
Application and approval process
The review committee wants the paperwork to be as simple as possible for everyone. The guidelines take the guesswork out of the application and the committee’s decision making.
In fact, the guidelines not only provide criteria for the current committee to make appropriate decisions, but for successive committee members to make consistent decisions in the future. Without the criteria in the guidelines, the application approved today may result in construction deemed unacceptable by new committee members upon completion.
The Association’s authority
One last purpose of the guidelines is to clarify the authority the homeowners association has in this area. State statutes and governing documents give the association a legal right to enact and enforce design review standards. The guidelines spell this out so everyone understands they must comply even if they don’t agree.
What can the Architectural Committee do for homeowners?
So, now that we know why the Association has guidelines, how can the committee help homeowners?
While it may seem arbitrary from an individual homeowner’s standpoint, the architectural committee looks out for the entire community. Aside from stopping residents from painting pink polka dots on their houses, the committee’s job is to make sure that the size and style of the project, the type of building materials being used and the overall look of the new structure adhere to the Association’s design requirements.
Not only does this keep the community looking cohesive, it also helps to keep property values up by preventing individual structures from standing out. It’s also important to note that unapproved structures might legally have to be removed at the owner’s expense, so it’s better to just have them get approval before building in the first place.
So when a homeowner is ready to start a new project, or if the design of a current project changes midway through building it, plans must be sent to the architectural committee first to make sure they’re in compliance with the Association’s design standards. If the committee does find any issues, they will let the homeowner know what they are and try to help come up with other options.
The homeowners association appreciates all the hard work residents do to make their homes and the community beautiful. Keeping the Architectural Committee in the loop of all building projects keeps the Association looking great.