Architectural Guidelines Aren’t the Solution to These ACC Issues!

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Architectural Guidelines Aren’t the Solution to These ACC Issues!

“Sometimes skillful interpersonal relations and good judgement in the moment can help to defuse difficult circumstances.”

When it comes to approving modifications on homes, the architectural review committee faces more hurdles than simply following reasonable, well-written architectural guidelines.  A lot of issues arise from the applications submitted by owners and the interactions between committee members and owners as well. 

Avoiding these troublesome situations can be as simple as proactive time management.  Yet sometimes skillful interpersonal relations and good judgement in the moment can help to defuse difficult circumstances, such as these: 

  1. “an application is not acted on for weeks on end!”  Review time is one of the most common complaints from applicants.  Committee members should be organized and committed enough to respond to an application within a reasonable amount of time (3 to 5 days). 
  2.  “an application is incomplete or incomprehensible!”  One of the challenges of the review committee is to initially figure out what exactly is being proposed.  The committee must fully understand the submittal prior to responding.  Applications that are incomplete or incomprehensible should be denied.
  3. “when no good deed goes unpunished!”  Committee members should be cautious of neighbors that want to drop by for some outside advice to determine if a project they are considering will meet with committee approval. The applicant should instead be directed to “meet” with the full committee for clarifications and reminded that a formal application must be submitted and approved prior to starting any construction.  Informal discussions outside of the committee format too often can be interpreted as an approval.  Responses to applications must be a collective decision by the committee.
  4. “a committee or committee member goes rogue, is adversarial or has a personal agenda!”  There are too many committee members that for one reason or another want to control the world.  Aesthetics is subjective, not everyone agrees on things of beauty.
  5. “an applicant is disrespectful, rude or condescending of the committee!”  Committees should be firm when needed but always respectful in return.  
  6. “an applicant brings example images!”  An applicant that has had their application denied may bring example images of other residences with similar improvements to show the committee.  These images may be informative and useful; however, the history of those examples may, or may not, be known to the committee.  Discussions with an applicant of other homeowners’ improvements should be avoided.  Each submittal should be reviewed on its own merit.
  7. “an applicant asks for approval of an improvement already built!”  To avoid compromising HOA restrictions, an application for an improvement that has already been constructed should be reviewed as if it has not.

Walter L. Anderson

Architect; Dallas, TX

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