What is an Architectural Review Committee? Does the HOA Need One?

Living in an HOA community means adhering to the variety of policies and expectations set forth by the board. But these rules are not for naught – they ensure that all members are held to the same standards and protect the overall value and aesthetics of the neighborhood. One key component are the architectural standards, which are enforced by the architectural review committee or ARC (sometimes referred to as an architectural review board or ARB).

What is the Purpose of the ARC?

The architectural review committee is a group of volunteers that are tasked with reviewing any requests by homeowners to make changes to the exterior of their home or their property. For instance, if a member wants to repaint their siding, build a deck, expand their driveway, or install a fence, it must first pass through the ARC.

The committee reviews all of the details of the project to ensure that it aligns with the standards set by the CC&Rs.  While not every home must look exactly the same, they all must adhere to the same guidelines. This protects homeowners from having a neighbor who paints their front door bright purple, or builds a 9-foot fence that blocks their view. Ultimately, it maintains the aesthetics and appeal of the neighborhood to protect property values. The ARC is one of the most important committees in the HOA.

How are Requests Managed?

The HOA should have a standard form that all homeowners fill out if they want to make a change. It can be helpful to have this form located on the member section of the community website so it can be easily accessed and downloaded or filled out electronically. The form will cover a variety of information to help the ARC make its decision. That could include:

  • What the homeowner wants to alter and why.
  • What materials will be used, including specific paint colors.
  • Detailed drawings or plans of the proposed alterations.
  • Any required permits that are needed.
  • What contractor they want to use, and the contractor’s credentials.
  • A timeline for project completion.

The committee may request additional information if necessary, or ask for specific changes so that the project complies with established standards. Typically, the ARC has 30 days to make its decision, at which time it will provide an approval or denial to the homeowner in writing.  If the request is denied, the committee must state a valid reason why. All files should be kept for future reference should any issues arise.

There should be clear standards that the committee must follow so that homeowners know what is expected and how decisions are made. Homeowners may appeal a denial or make adjustments and resubmit their request. If changes are made without approval from the ARC, the HOA may take action against the homeowner to remedy the situation.

The architectural review process is an important part of HOA operations and maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout the community. Plus, it helps to protect property value. For more information about ARCs, their importance, or how to establish one in your HOA, contact a property management professional like Kuester.

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Bryan Kuester

Bryan Kuester

Bryan is the CEO of Kuester Management Group. He has over 15 years of managing community associations throughout North and South Carolina.

His specialties include Community Association Management - maintenance, budgeting for operational and reserve funding, long-range planning, covenant enforcement, amenity management, onsite management, large scale management.