A major objective of the architectural review process is to have in place guidelines and procedures that are perceived by homeowners to be fair and reasonable. After all, if owners perceive the process as fair, they are much more likely to voluntarily comply with those guidelines and procedures.
The use of forms can and should be used extensively in the architectural review process. Forms will assist in the uniform and consistent application of the procedures and thus aid in the perception of owners that everyone is treated alike.
A well-designed and drafted application form will prevent many problems from arising and communicate to the applicant what is expected. An important part of the application form is the “acknowledgment” at the end that must be signed by the owner applicant. This acknowledgment should be thorough and contain the following ten points:
- Written approval must be received before any building or construction can commence.
- Approval does not constitute municipal/county building department approval.
- Applicant agrees to obtain necessary municipal/county building permit prior to commencement of any work.
- Failure to comply with all requirements will result in withdrawal of approval.
- Approval is not a guarantee of structural safety or engineering soundness.
- Applicant agrees not to alter existing drainage patterns on lot without express approval of the board or committee.
- Upon completion of improvement, applicant agrees to immediately notify committee/board and authorize it to enter onto property to inspect improvement.
- Failure to notify committee/board of completion or refusal to allow inspection shall result in withdrawal of approval.
- Any time during the process applicant agrees to comply with any request to enter onto the property or for additional information for purposes of determining if improvement is being constructed in accordance with the approval plan and in compliance with the covenants and guidelines. Refusal by applicant shall result in withdrawal of approval.
- Failure to start or complete improvement within time specified on application shall result in withdrawal of approval unless an extension is requested and approved in writing.
A well-drafted and comprehensive acknowledgement will go a long ways towards protecting the association in the event the applicant owner fails to follow the process.