HOAs and Architectural Review Committees
Homeowners Associations have become a part of property ownership in the United States. When large tracts of land are subdivided and sold as separate lots, an HOA is often established. One of the benefits of working with us and buy land in the developments we have is that an HOA is NOT established. However, in order to help maintain the value of your land and ensure everyone enjoys their land, there is an Architectural Review Committee that you can use.
Architectural Review Committees (ARC), sometimes also called Architectural Control Committees or some other variant, may be established as a specialist committee to set and maintain architectural and aesthetic guidelines for properties in the community.
Good or Bad? Always Different
Few people sit on the fence when it comes to ARCs. They are either loved or hated. And you may even be wondering why there is an ARC for the land you’re buying. This article will take a measured view and say that ARCs can vary a lot. The best ARC is one that sets reasonable architectural guidelines without being overly restrictive. This can include requirements for lot setback and general requirements for the placement, design, and height specifications for structures. At the other extreme, some ARCs will specify, in great detail, everything from exterior paint colors and finishes to roofing materials, fences, and landscaping.
ARCs can perform a valuable function, particularly to maintain the value of your land:
- Ensuring compliance with rules that make the community better for everyone. For example, ensuring that gardens are well-maintained and neat, preventing the construction messy sheds and structures or junk piling up on neighboring properties, etc.
- Ensuring that everyone has access to their land and that shared driveways or positioning of individual driveways serves individual and community needs. There could also be requirements to create off-street parking to reduce the amount of congestion on the street.
- Ensuring that specifications are enforced equally and fairly. This is arguably the most important factor for maintaining peace in any community!
Follow the Process
Generally speaking, submissions need to be made to the ARC before you can start construction on your house or making changes to an existing house. Depending on the community, the ARC may have a required format for submissions and may need time to review it. In most cases with our properties, the ARC will provide the final recommendation. In all cases, you should get a final decision in writing before starting any work on your property.
Go in with Eyes Wide Open
Whether the architectural guidelines set by an ARC suit you, and whether or not you like them, is something only you can decide. Read through the documents, and specifically the ARC Guidelines, before deciding to buy a piece of land. If there are specific guidelines that you decide you can’t live with, you may need to move on to another piece of land.