3 Ways to Make Architectural Reviews Easier for Your HOA
Your homeowners association follows a well-defined set architectural standards for plenty of good reasons. After all, those standards go a long way toward maintaining both the welcoming appearance of your community and the property values that residents need to uphold. But unless you make it as easy as possible for residents to abide by the standards and follow the process that enforces them, you risk the kinds of compliance chaos that lead to conflict and ruffled feathers. Here’s how to ease the path to harmonious architectural reviews.
Spell out what’s not OK
It’s always easier to follow rules when you know what they are and understand them fully. For HOAs, that means making sure you give your residents the information they need to apply your expectations to their renovation plans. No one wants to go through the drudgery of calling contractors, walking estimators through their house or yard, and fielding estimates as they arrive, only to discover that the fence or gazebo or addition they’ve planned is out of spec with community covenants.
And if you thought that saying “know what they are and understand them fully” is redundant, think again. It’s one thing to be aware of rules and even have read them, and it’s yet another thing to understand their ramifications fully. A resident may know that you maintain a list of acceptable paint colors, but fail to realize that the shade they want to use falls outside the parameters of that list. The same holds true of the standards you apply to everything from fence heights to tree planting.
So how do you cure the confusion before it causes the chaos? Just as it’s important to post your covenants on your website, where your residents can access them easily and quickly whenever they want to, it’s also important to offer them examples of how those covenants apply. With the right homeowners association website software, you can set up an online repository of essential documents that residents can view and download 24/7. On the same website, you can create a page that provides sample scenarios in which a resident decision either qualifies for no-brainer approval, or falls outside the rules and requires modification to avoid facing rejection.
Of course, visibility of some of the documents you post to your online repository should be restricted to residents, homeowners association administrators, members of committees, and HOA officers, including your board. If your homeowners association website software supports it, you can make specific decisions about which documents to make available for public view and which to restrict to logged-in insiders.
Streamline your request process
How do your residents submit their renovation plans for architectural review and approval? Do they need to call an HOA administrator for the name and contact information of the person who’s in charge of the ARC committee this year, and then play phone tag with that individual for a week before finally connecting via e-mail? When paint chips, estimates, and plan drawings become available, does the resident need to go through that same song-and-dance routine all over again to transmit this information to the appropriate party for review? And if some aspect of the resident’s renovation request is unclear, or falls outside the boundaries of what your covenants deem acceptable, are you in for yet another round of communication roulette to ask for clarification or spell out objections and achieve a result you can approve?
That type of rigmarole is exhausting just to itemize, let alone go through, not to mention the fact that it’s the kind of ordeal people remember, and not with pleasure. It’s always a good policy to avoid creating bad experiences with the capacity to fester.
What’s the best way to skip the negatives and still achieve your HOA’s covenant-mandated ARC goals? That’s easy: Use your homeowners association website software to create a ticketing system that allows for easy bidirectional communication with HOA administrators, equally easy attachment of documentation, and even private consultation among admins about any problems you need to address to help the resident implement their renovation plan.
The subtext of all these aspects of building and maintaining a resident-friendly architectural request approval system is communication: From residents to administrators, among administrators, and then back to residents with approvals or modification requests. Unfortunately, manual versions of this process leave much to be desired in terms of timeliness, fluency, and efficiency. Well-managed communication is much more than the messages you send and receive. It’s also the ease with which you can engage in productive dialog. And to put it bluntly, the old-school approach, cobbled together out of a combination of e-mail messages, phone calls, and frustration, simply doesn’t work.
With the right homeowners association website software, however, you can put this entire process online, and enable everyone to get on the same page—literally. With a dedicated page for architectural requests, backed by a digital process that runs entirely on your website, you can run this process smoothly, to the benefit of all involved.
At HOAStart, we understand the confusion and the clarity that form the polar-opposite outcomes of architectural review, and we’re here to help you find the happy endings that you need for success. We’ve built our software based our extensive experience in serving the needs of homeowners associations, and our understanding of what you expect shows in what you can accomplish when you create your website with us. Sign up for a free 15-day trial and experience our easy-to-use software for yourself.