Every season brings a new opportunity to express your individuality as a homeowner through colorful expressions of flowers and hardscapes as well as changes to your home’s exterior.
Beautiful landscaping, exterior color refreshes or changes, adding creature comforts such as shade trees or screen porches, or to make necessary repairs or updates to your yard or home can maintain your property’s condition and increase property values, if done correctly. If you live in a neighborhood with a home owner’s association (HOA), you must abide by the bylaws and covenants of the community with any changes to your lot or structure to avoid penalties and fees. The purpose of the HOA approval process isn’t control but protection. To protect all homeowner’s property values, every neighbor must apply for approval of projects that influence the overall appeal and value of the neighborhood. The process of getting approval to make your desired changes is easy!
Although different homeowners associations and community subdivisions have different rules and regulations, they all aspire to maintain and increase the property values of the neighborhood to the benefit of the homeowner, the community, and the local real estate market. Before making a request to your Architectural Review Committee (ARC), be sure that you understand what’s required of your specific community. Most associations require that before you make any changes to your lot or building a request for architectural review must be submitted to the board of directors and/or its appointed ARC.
ARC members are volunteers from your own neighborhood who have a vested interest in maintaining property values. Most ARC’s have the right to automatically deny incomplete forms or requests. And generally your time line for consideration begins only with a complete application. Once a complete application is received, written approval should take fewer than 30 days.
Approval of an application is subject to your association account being up-to-date with no outstanding fees in order to for your application to be considered by the ARC. No work on a project should be started until approval is received in writing from the ARC. Once approved, the homeowner is responsible for the timely completion completion of the project and the prompt removal of any debris. It’s also the homeowner’s responsibility to comply with zoning building codes and laws of all governmental authorities and to be aware of any easements that exist on your property. A land survey will reveal any easements (areas not to be disturbed or built upon) or encroachments (areas where other people’s property such as fence or building extend onto your property).
The architectural review committee has a higher authority than that of any county or city codes.
Most architectural review committees have an online application process but they may also have a street address to send the application to as well.
A completed application consists of the filled Architectural Request Form, a detailed description of your project showing the nature, kind, shape, height, and materials of the project. Color samples and representative photo are also usually required. If you are making any permanent changes such as installing a shed, fans, or pool a certified land survey is required showing the location of your home, property lines, and any easements on the property.
If you are installing an in-ground pool, additional patio area, or other concrete areas, the impervious surface calculations are also required. Be sure that you are staying within the maximum allowable percentages for impervious surfaces allowed by your county and/or city. Realize that this might also impact your water bill as the runoff will be increased.
When installing a fence, your adjoining neighbors signature is required agreeing to the installation.
The best way to avoid any delays to your application and project is to have the required checklist items included and application completed with no open items. The application will require your name, your phone number, your address, your email address. Also required is the name of the person or company performing the work, their contact information, as well as your desired start and completion dates.
Following these guidelines and using the provided checklist for required items will help you submit a successful ARC application. Your neighbors will thank you for beautifying your home and lot and helping to preserve and increase property values.
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Chrystal Roy is Broker-in-Charge of Real Estate Realty LLC (RER) and Principal and Broker-in-Charge of The Safari Group LLC of RER as well as on the Architectural Review Committee of her neighborhood.