Modifying Your Home

Architectural Review Process
by Steve Feistel, PCAM®

Before you get started making all those great improvements to your new home, take a moment to read on so you are not caught by surprise when your Association comes knocking at your door.

1. Association Responsibilities: One of the more important functions of an Association is enhancing the desirability and attractiveness of living in the community by preserving the architectural character of the neighborhood. The Association is granted the power to administer and enforce architectural controls within the community by the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (the "CC&Rs").

Typically Associations administer and enforce architectural rules through an Architectural Review Committee (the "Architectural Committee"). The Architectural Committee is appointed as provided in the CC&Rs. Generally the committee has the authority to (i) review and approve all plans and specifications for alterations, modifications and new construction; (ii) establish and administer general Architectural Guidelines and Standards; and (iii) enforce the Architectural Standards within the community.

2. Homeowner Responsibilities: Prior to the commencement of any work, it is the responsibility of the individual homeowner to review the Association's Architectural Guidelines and Standards in their entirety and to submit their architectural request in full conformance with those Guidelines and Standards. In addition, homeowners are obligated to comply with Master Association governing documents (if applicable), local government ordinances and building codes.

3. Purpose of Architectural Guidelines: Architectural Guidelines and Standards are designed to provide design criteria for home improvements within the community. They are intended to help the Owner and the Association establish a high quality of appearance, to assure a harmonious streetscape and to direct character and form to enhance the community's overall value. These guidelines and standards are to be followed by all Owners for any modifications, changes or alterations to any portion of a building, landscaping or lot.

4. Enforcement and Violations: Failure to submit the required plans and application, and obtain the necessary approval from your Association for any alteration, modification or new construction, may constitute a violation of the CC&Rs. Such violation could result in the Association's requiring the modification or removal of the work (regardless of whether it has been completed) at the expense of the owner. All residents have the right and the responsibility to bring to the attention of the Architectural Committee any violations of any provision or standard that the Association's Board of Directors or the Committee has adopted.

5. How to Submit: All requests for Architectural Committee approval of improvements must be made with the standard forms/application provided by your Association’s Architectural Committee and should be mailed or delivered to the Architectural Committee through the Manager for the Association in care of the Property Manager:

Your Association

 c/o Accell Property Management, Inc.

23046 Avenida de la Carlota, Suite 700

Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Telephone inquiries should be directed to (949) 581-4988.

6. Submission of Plans & Applications: Plans must be clear, complete, drawn to scale and prepared in accordance with applicable building codes. Plans shall show all dimensions, sizes, materials, finish colors, plant species, drainage, grading, etc. to provide a full representation of the proposed improvement. Failure to submit complete plans will result in denial of the application.

7. Incomplete Applications: Your Association’s Architectural Committee typically will not review incomplete submissions. Incomplete submissions will generally be returned as insufficient and deemed not formally submitted.

8. Committee Review: Architectural review periods vary from Association to Association. Homeowners should check their Association’s CC&Rs or with the Manager to verify review periods. Typically the Architectural Committee will have from 30-45 days from receipt of an Owner's plans to approve, conditionally approve or disapprove. No construction may begin prior to receipt of the Architectural Committee’s written approval or the end of the review period as stated in the CC&R’s, whichever occurs first.

9. Approval: Final approval by the Architectural Committee should always be issued in writing.

Home Improvement Steps

Here are some simple tips on successfully navigating the home improvement process.

1. Become familiar with your Association's governing documents (CC&Rs, By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, Rules and Regulations, Architectural Guidelines).

2. Start Planning architectural improvements.
   •Know what you want (i.e., landscaping, patio slab, patio cover, trellis, barbecue, etc.).
   •Draft plans and specifications.
   •Submit application for Architectural Approval.

3. Select a contractor.
   •Identify qualified contractors (i.e., license, insurance, references, etc.).
   •Get bids.
   •Award contract.

4. Begin work.
   •Set schedule.
   •Monitor contractor's performance.
   •Conduct final walk through with contractor before accepting work.

5. Submit Notice of Completion form (if applicable).

6. You're Done.

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