The Ultimate HOA Architectural Review Guide

One very important aspect of maintaining the home values in the community is to have an established HOA architectural review board in place. Even though many HOAs have a system in place to review and approve any architectural requests from association members, few are fulfilling their obligations in a way that is simple for their members. If your HOA board is struggling with your architectural review procedures, review the information below:


What Is an HOA Architectural Review? 

An architectural review should be included in a community’s governing documents and will need to be both enforced and interpreted by the board governing the HOA. Usually, when a review occurs, a homeowner submits their intended planned changes for approval. Then, the HOA board will review the proposed changes and will decide to accept or reject them.


What Does an Architectural Committee Do? 

The Architectural Review Committee are the people who are designated to interpret and enforce the guidelines set out by the HOA board. For some HOA boards, they will have an Architectural Committee within their board members. There are several names the Architectural Committee can be called. This includes the Architectural Control Committee, Alterations Review Committee, Design Review Committee, Art Jury, among others.


The Benefits of Having an HOA Architectural Review

architect discussing construction plan blueprint | hoa architectural review guideHaving an HOA architectural review is an essential part of how your HOA operates. Enforcing standards within your community should be one of the top priorities of your HOA. HOAs that decide to enforce architectural reviews will enjoy a consistent look and feel throughout their neighborhood, standardized approval for homeowners, and property values that are better maintained.

Architectural reviews need to have procedures in place if a resident commits HOA violations or if their request has been denied by the HOA. HOAs that anticipate these issues will be in a far better position to enforce their regulations with their residents.


Tips on How to Update the HOA Architectural Review Process

When contemplating how to best update the architectural review process for your HOA, utilize the following tips:


1. Provide a Roadmap

Having a roadmap for your residents to follow about how their architectural review applications will be processed is an excellent strategy to clarify your procedures to residents. There are many different ways to establish a roadmap. It could be a step-by-step guide or a digital outline on your community website. Your roadmap must be clear and concise so that your residents are able to follow it with ease.


2. Define Your Objectives

close up hands of man discussing with project contractor and reviewing blueprint | hoa architectural review guideHomeowners often have limited knowledge of how the HOA architectural review process works. It is wise for your new committee to define its purpose or objective with its architectural review. By defining the purpose, it will be possible to simplify the instructions that you are providing to residents. Take the proper time to find what purpose your HOA has for its architectural review procedures is. This will simplify your implementation process greatly.


3. Modernize Your Forms

Forms are something that needs to be simple and concise. Try to assess your forms with a new perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of a new homeowner and try to figure out if your instructions are clear. If they are not, try to revise them in the best possible way.


4. Eliminate Complicated Language

It is usually best to simplify the language utilized in your forms. For example, advanced legal terms should be eliminated. If terms are unable to be simplified, then it is best to include a glossary to clarify the meaning of more complicated terms. By doing so, you will reduce the confusion that residents may experience in the future.


5. Proactively Answer Resident Questions

hand of woman actively discussing business project | hoa architectural review guideIt is quite common for HOAs to get questions about their procedures. Your HOA board members should take note of the questions that they are receiving. By doing so, you will be able to assemble a FAQ list of questions to distribute to your existing and new community members. Having a FAQ section will cut down on the amount of time your HOA board members have to spend answering questions.


6. Share Real-Life Examples in Your FAQ Section

Having a FAQ section is quite helpful; however, it is also useful to include real-life examples that could easily happen to many of your residents. By including common potential occurrences, your residents may be able to relate their questions to your examples and resolve their confusion with ease.

As you encounter FAQ scenarios by dealing with the issues that arise with your residents, you will be able to add common cases to your FAQ section, which will further clarify what expectations your HOA has for your residents in terms of architectural protocols.


7. Consider the Whole Package of Your HOA Architectural Review Process

The most important aspect that your HOA has to consider when designing your HOA architectural review process is the lasting impression it leaves with your residents. If your procedures are unclear, there might be confusion among the residents which may result in the violation of the rules in your HOA. It is your responsibility as a member of the HOA to make any and all regulations clear for your residents.


It is also important to have a set of procedures in place if a resident’s request is denied or if they have violated your procedures. By having a comprehensive package of procedures, your HOA board will spend less time on retroactively dealing with issues and more time on the essential efforts of making your community a positive place to live for its residents.