Understanding HOA Architectural Guidelines and Their Impacts on Vendors

Construction workers creating blueprints, depicting adherence to HOA architectural guidelines

A guide to architectural standards for vendors 

Key takeaways:

  • HOA architectural guidelines are important for protecting the value and aesthetics of the neighborhood and hold everyone to the same standards. 
  • Architectural Review Committees review homeowners’ requests to change the exterior of their homes and enforce guidelines.
  • Updating architectural review processes is essential to streamlined operations.

It’s always a good idea for vendors to be familiar with an HOA’s rules and regulations when working with one. One thing vendors should pay particular attention to is an HOA’s architectural guidelines. Vendors whose services could alter a house’s exterior/structural design should familiarize themselves with the HOA’s architectural standards to understand their limits and requirements. Otherwise, beginning work without review could backfire on your contractual relationship with an HOA. 

If you’re a contractor providing a service to an HOA community, understanding their architectural requirements could be essential. We discuss architectural guidelines, Architectural Review Committees (ARC)s, and how the two affect your dealings.

What are architectural guidelines? 

Let’s begin by defining what these guidelines are. In short, architectural guidelines, also known as architectural standards or design rules, establish an HOA’s policies for changes and improvements to a homeowner’s property. They often include exterior aesthetic considerations, which vary from community to community. 

These standards include subjective aesthetic considerations that maintain harmonious and consistent neighborhood character that:

  • Is architecturally pleasant 
  • Benefits a homeowner by preserving their property’s value

HOA boards take responsibility for shared spaces and therefore need to approve adjustments to those spots. Boards have to document their guidelines to make them clear to everyone. They can either communicate them individually or as part of their rules and regulations. 

What do architectural guidelines include? 

Architectural guidelines should include the following components:

  • Standards

Standards consider different modification dimensions. For instance, they regulate flooring materials, plumbing fixtures, and submittal of key remodel plans. They also regulate planned developments regarding roofing materials, landscaping, fencing, and paint color.

  • Remodeling agreements

These agreements are essential for HOAs and planned developments. Homeowners sign them when they want to remodel, describing the work scope. They also make it possible for homeowners to work within a board’s approval and make them responsible for damages to common spaces. Additionally, they require homeowners to use only licensed and incurred contractors, comply with project completion deadlines, and provide building permits.

  • Contractor rules

Lastly, these guidelines regulate contractors by defining when the contractor can work on-site. For example, they might forbid vendors from working on some defined holidays or during specific hours. Why are these guidelines important for vendors and homeowners?

  1. Community associations draft these rules and architectural standards to regulate new property additions or modifications.
  2. They maintain visual harmony, balance, and consistency throughout neighborhoods, helping the HOAs succeed in maintaining property value.
  3. They ensure that only approved exterior design additions or modifications are implemented. 

What are ARCs?

Homeowners in an HOA community should follow the expectations and policies their boards set. These guidelines ensure that homeowners follow similar standards and safeguard a neighborhood’s value and aesthetics. 

However, these standards would remain proverbial lame ducks without ARCs. ARCs are made up of volunteers from the community that review all requests homeowners present before changing or adding anything to their homes’ exteriors. For instance, homeowners seeking to repaint their sidings, build decks, install fences, or expand their driveways need the committees’ nod.

ARCs play the following key roles: 

  • Review all remodel project details to ensure that they align with the set standards
  • Manage all application and approval processes
  • Monitor community members to ensure they don’t violate the standards
  • Review all guidelines for adequacy
  • Educate the community about their set standards
  • Justly enforce all the guidelines contained in HOAs governing articles
  • Make objective and subjective decisions regarding standards compliance or violation

ARCs also manage member requests. They have standards forms every homeowner should fill out before changing their home’s exteriors. Many associations have these forms on their website to allow easier access, downloading, and electronic filling. The forms contain various details that help ARCs make informed and fair decisions. The information includes the following: 

  • What homeowners want to change and why
  • The construction materials they intend to use, such as paint colors
  • Comprehensive proposed alteration plans
  • All necessary permits before construction begins
  • The vendors members intend to hire and their credentials
  • Project completion timelines

Tips for updating your HOA’s architectural review process

Since architectural designs affect homeowners and their contractors, HOAs must update their review process. Why? Because HOA member needs are dynamic, so associations should try to accommodate them when appropriate. HOA leaders can update their processes and make them easier to follow by homeowners and vendors by following these tips:

  • Define your objectives

Most homeowners don’t have a full understanding of their HOA’s architectural review processes. Therefore, boards should define their objectives for updating their review requirements. This simplifies instructions and updates for your members’ understanding. Homeowners are much more likely to cooperate when instructions are simplified. 

  • Upgrade your forms

ARC members should also update their forms to make them simpler and more concise. The HOA leaders must assess the documents and place themselves in the residents’ shoes to determine how clear the instructions are. If they aren’t clear, revision is necessary. 

  • Simplify your language

Additionally, simply the language you use in your online forms. Don’t use legalese and when you can’t avoid legal terms, define them in a separate glossary. This way, you save your members unnecessary confusion.

  • Answer resident questions clearly

It’s not strange for HOA leaders to get questions regarding their procedures. When members ask questions, capture them and include them in an FAQ section. Consequently, it becomes easier and faster for your board members to address residents’ queries.

  • Share life experiences in your FAQ section

Lastly, include real-life experiences in your FAQ section to let your association members easily relate to these examples.

VendorSmart can help grow your business

HOA relationships are very lucrative for vendors to have. It’s important to know an HOA’s architectural guidelines when completing projects because they may impact your work.

VendorSmart is an online platform that helps connect certified vendors with community managers. Are you a service provider looking for customers? Set up a customized profile on our platform today and start getting jobs. Contact us for more information.