Why Your HOA Board Needs to Implement a Design Review Program

Aug 15, 2019 9:00:00 AM / by HOA Manager

family_painting_fenceWhether you have a majority of first-time homeowners or long-time residents in your homeowners association, everyone has a hefty investment in where they live. It’s important that the HOA board has a program in place to preserve the value of residences, as well as the surrounding common areas shared by all.  This is accomplished by keeping buildings well-maintained and in a style that complements adjacent structures and landscaping. When home exteriors are in good shape – the grass is cut, the hedges trimmed, the trash picked up and the sidewalks and roads well-maintained – the community is attractive to prospective buyers and renters, and property values are preserved.

The key to this is your Association’s Architectural Guidelines and the committees that review homeowner's submissions for approval.

Purpose of Architectural Guidelines

Homeowners associations have a variety of names for committees that are tasked with making sure that your Architectural Guidelines are being followed. Regardless of the name, their purpose is the same: to ensure compliance with aesthetic standards established by the Association

Here are just a few of the names they might go by:

  • Architectural Committee
  • Architectural Control Committee (ACC)
  • Architectural & Landscape Review Committee
  • Architectural Review Committee (ARC)
  • Design Review Committee (DRC)

Your Association’s design review program is a big part of sustaining the community’s appearance and property values. While your design guidelines have some limitations, they allow enough flexibility for individual expression.

When to Involve the Design Review Committee

Every homeowner should contact the Association’s design review committee or the HOA board if they are considering a project for their home that involves:

  • Painting the exterior or trim
  • Redesigning or installing landscaping
  • Constructing a fence
  • Adding a secondary structure
  • Installing solar panels or satellite antenna

The design review committee will provide the application instructions, review procedures, and provide feedback related to the homeowners association’s architectural guidelines.

Remember, just because the owner received approval from the city or the county does not mean that it meets the guidelines of the homeowners association. Because an association's architectural design committee and a city/county building department are separate jurisdictions, an owner must get approval separately. Compliance with state and local building codes is not the duty of an Association or its architectural committee.

Remember that your HOA board and committee are volunteers, likely with no expertise in building codes and no jurisdiction over their enforcement. Let the city or the county be responsible for compliance of their codes. In other words, obtaining a building permit from the city does not override approval by the Association and approval by the Association does not give city or county approval. 

If you have questions about your Association's architectural and design guidelines, refer to the CC&Rs or talk to a board member or the HOA manager.

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Topics: HOA Board, Member of HOA, HOA Property Values