Building and moving into your first home can be an exciting time, but you may be surprised to learn about certain building requirements if you've been renting for some time. Before you complete your home, you'll need to submit your plans to your homeowner's association (HOA) for an architectural review. Read on to learn more about what these entail and why they are required.

What Is a Certified Architectural Review? 

Many neighborhoods with HOAs have a committee that enforces architectural standards so that the development has a uniform appearance and safe building structures. For example, if you wanted to build a modern home in a neighborhood full of traditional homes, then the architectural committee may deny your building plan since your home design may not look cohesive with the rest of the neighborhood.

Besides Uniformity, What Other Elements Are Reviewed?

While architectural reviews are often required at the beginning of the building stage, your HOA may also require reviews if you want to add an addition or change the property in some way at a later date. For example, if you wanted to add a garage extension, the committee may require you to add certain building materials to make sure the addition is up to code and that the property value is still maintained. If you want to add a feature like a swimming pool, the HOA may require a fence to limit liability. Ultimately, just about any housing and property element can be reviewed depending on how stringent your HOA is. For instance, the committee may require you to choose from a limited selection of paint colors or finishes for your home's exterior.

How Should You Prepare for Review?

If your home plan doesn't meet the architectural review, the good news is that you can amend your plans and resubmit them to the committee. To prepare for the review you should consult the HOA covenants to learn your HOA's standards for development. Before submitting your blueprints, you may need to gather information like:

  • Your contractor's/installer's credentials
  • Your schedule for building completion
  • Materials that will be used
  • Any alterations/additions to the current plan
  • Any necessary permits that you'll need

It may seem like overkill to gather and submit so much information, but this type of review can be valuable in preventing functional issues and identifying issues that could cause neighbors to complain. Another aspect of preparation is setting aside a fee for the architectural committee; this fee may be separate from your HOA fees. Reach out to a certified architectural review service for more informaiton