Controlling The Look And Feel In Your HOA

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Wednesday, 29 January 2020 05:30

Homeowner associations maintain control over the common elements and exterior appearance of the structures for a variety of reasons. Most HOAs are built with a design theme, exterior materials s and color palette that, if compromised, reduces the value of the homes. Well designed and enforced architectural design policies help maintain uniformity, which in turn helps support the highest home market values.

Maintaining high quality designs and materials improves maintenance by reducing repairs and frequency of replacement. Uniformity standards does not mean that changes can't be made. For commonly requested modifications, the board should establish standards and specifications that include cost, durability, color, style, make and model so that all such changes are uniform.

Establishing architectural policies goes a long way in preventing future problems. A well-crafted architectural policy will assist the members in designing their project, guide them through the architectural review process, and provide guidance for consistent review by the board or committee.

The policy should detail:

  • Section(s) of the governing documents referencing the architectural design policy and the board's authority to control it
  • Objectives of architectural review
  • Projects that require architectural review and approval
  • How the Architectural Review Committee is created, empowered, and staffed
  • What are the architectural review procedures
  • Specific criteria and standards needed for design approval
  • List of specifications and design practices that will assist those applying for project approval

Some owner requests like installation of heat pumps have the potential to cause heat, noise and leaking. So approval of all requests should consider ramifications besides just curb appeal.

The governing documents generally describe the authority of the board of directors to adopt rules and policies to control modifications. However, the authority seldom includes the specifics like the what, how and who. That is the hard part. (See in the Policy Samples section which can be used as a template). Make sure any such policy is reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney to ensure it complies with governing documents and statutes.

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