We all want to live in a house that feels like a home. For many of us, that means adding improvements and modifications to the exterior in order to bring out our own personal touches. However, if you belong to an HOA you will not have complete freedom to make changes to the exterior of your home, at least not without permission and checking with the HOA architectural standards.
Before making any modifications to the exterior of your home, it is advisable to contact your HOA board of directors or association management company to find out if there are written guidelines for your particular HOA architectural standards improvement request. These guidelines will generally give you detailed instructions on how to submit your request. The board of directors must approve your improvements before work is started.
In larger HOA communities, an architectural committee is formed by the board of directors and it oversees all types of architectural improvements. Architectural standards, also known as architectural guidelines or design rules, establish an HOA’s policies and procedures for changes and improvements to an owner’s home. These standards usually include aesthetic considerations, which vary from one HOA to another.
Architectural standards can include what paint colors can be used, if and how decks can be installed, what types of holiday decorations can be displayed, whether porches or decks are permissible – even what kinds of plants are allowed. The authority to uphold these architectural standards can typically be found in your HOA’s CCRs and bylaws. In addition, many HOAs adopt architectural rules that are designed to aid in streamlining the process. These rules may provide specific guidelines about what types of structures will be approved. Other rules can be procedural, such as outlining a process for submitting plans, obtaining a hearing in front of the committee, or appealing a negative decision to the HOA’s board of directors.
Many HOAs adopt rules or guidelines that interpret vague or poorly written review provisions. This can often lead to approvals or denials that lack uniformity or fairness. “Selective enforcement” can lead to anger and resentment within the community. Approval or denial of an architectural request can also be due to the HOAs interpretation of what was requested or application of rules relative to the standards of the board. Unfortunately, the decision can sometimes come down to good ol’ politics.
Recently, a client of mine wanted to build a flat roof lanai and the request was denied by the HOA, even though another homeowner within the community had received approval for the very same lanai design. It was quite apparent that the HOA architectural standards were not being enforced fairly or uniformly. With my help, the client was finally able to get approval.
Do you have questions about the HOA architectural standards in your community? Do you feel that your architectural request was unfairly denied? Reach out to me as I may be able to help resolve your dispute and protect your rights when it comes to your HOA.