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Why We Need a Design Review Program

Whether first-time homeowners or long-time residents, we all have a hefty investment in where we live in the southeast. So it’s important to preserve the value of our residences, as well as the surrounding common areas we all share, by keeping buildings well maintained and in a style that compliments adjacent structures and landscaping.

When our homes’ exteriors are in good shape and 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.

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

Please contact a member of the association’s design review committee or the board if you’re considering a project for your home that involves painting the exterior or trim; redesigning or installing landscaping; constructing a fence, adding a secondary structure (like a garden shed, dog house, swing set or garage); or installing solar panels, ham radio antennas or satellite antenna.

The design review committee will provide you with the association’s architectural guidelines, application instructions and review procedures. The DRC will work with you to make your residence more livable while preserving the community’s value.


Why Must the Association Approve My Fence?

Although the homeowners association may sometime seem like Big Brother when you want to build a shed or put up a fence, the design review program is actually a benefit—not a burden. The HOA’s design standards are based on harmony with the overall community, consideration for neighbors and high-quality construction practices. The design review program exists to maintain, protect and enhance the value of your property, and it strives for a balance between individual rights and the good of the entire community.

While HOA members have the biggest stake in property values, others are also very interested in seeing the community well maintained and looking its best, especially since builders’ reputations and lenders’ financial support are closely connected to the community. Also, public officials have an interest in maintaining and enhancing the community since tax revenues depend on property values.

The HOA tries to notify new members of its design review requirements as soon after they move in as possible. If for some reason you were missed, or if you need another copy, please contact the community association manager or any member of the Design Review Committee (DRC). Also, be sure to consult the Design Review Guidelines if you’re considering any type of exterior design change. These guidelines contain everything you need to know about the approval process, design requirements, and the HOA’s basic design philosophy. The guidelines even list the changes that don’t need to be approved.

The DRC makes every effort to process applications fairly, reasonably and quickly. Your HOA fully believe that the same can be said for how alleged violations are handled—most of which are resolved easily.






Why to Have a Design Review Process

Community associations have a set of written design review standards and processes that are required for homeowners to abide by. Some homeowners mistakenly believe these standards restrict their freedom of individual expression, when in fact they actually provide a framework which each homeowner can express individual tastes and preferences. The standards have been carefully developed to reflect a balance between individual rights and the good of the entire homeowners association—that is, property values.

OK, but why do we need processes and guidelines to maintain architectural standards?

It is necessary to have a basis for treating all homeowners fairly and reasonably. Written guidelines allow you and the design review committee to work from the same criteria.

Sometimes architectural requirements can be complex. The guidelines show you exactly what is required, and helps you design improvements that comply with the community’s standards.

And then there’s the application and approval part of the process. The review committee members assure you that they want the paper work to be as simple as possible for everyone. The guidelines take the guesswork out of your application and their decision making.

In fact, they 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 future construction deemed unacceptable by new committee members upon completion.

One last purpose of the guidelines is to clarify the homeowners association’s authority in this area. State statutes and our governing documents give the HOA a legal right to enact and enforce design review standards. The guidelines spell this out clearly so that everyone understands they must comply even if they don’t agree.