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Colorado HOAs and Architecture Control: How to get your Project Approved

Colorado is colorful for a reason. Our state is a diverse, unique, and quirky mishmash of national and international personalities. From flying saucers to log cabins, a Coloradan’s choice of home is as varied as the weather. HOAs are notorious for their architecture control and there are many horror stories out there of an innocent improvement or paint job that ended up as a federal court case. But HOAs are not mindless cookie-cutter communities. Every HOA has a process for making improvements or modifications through the Architectural Control (or review) Committee. Below are common steps HOA members need to take to make their property their own.

What is the purpose of an HOA Architecture Control?

The purpose of an HOA is to protect and enhance property values. That includes the architecture and lot maintenance of a home. Proper home care makes a positive difference. Studies have shown that simply maintaining your paint, maintenance, and landscaping can increase your property value by up to 12%. Homes in disrepair can have the opposite effect. It may seem overly litigious for the board to have to screen every architecture request, but their job is paramount in protecting and maintaining home values. And architectural control is a key component to that end.

Know Your HOA Governing Documents

The Articles of Incorporation, Declarations, and Bylaws contain the governance policies for any HOA. These documents are a guide to what architecture projects are and aren’t permitted. If there is an architecture restriction, it’s listed in these documents. Finally, these documents lay out which committee oversees approving design changes. Typically, the committee that handles these situations is designated the Architecture Control Committee (ACC), Architecture Review Committee (ARC) or the Design Review Committee (DRC). For HOAs managed by CAP, you can access those documents on our webportal.

Know the Architecture Process

There is generally a set process which architecture requests must move through. As with all HOA positions, the committee is made up of volunteers from the association who may need time to evaluate the request and coordinate with a service expert. The committee likely meets on a monthly basis, although many correspond throughout the month in order to process requests and allow projects to move forward. We recommend allowing about 30 days for the entire process, so you do not feel a time crunch around the beginning of the project. Reach out to your property manager if you have questions about the process as they help the Committee and Board with architecture as well.

Submit One Comprehensive Architecture Request

It’s one thing to ask the board “what colors are allowed on a garage door”, it’s quite another to say, “I need to replace a back deck”. Both requests require committee input; but one is more detailed than the other. Make sure to submit requests in writing and in accordance with the governing documents.

We recommend contacting the management company to verify the process and what is needed for each request. Remember, your board is made up of volunteers from the community. If you are unfamiliar with a contract term, its likely they are too. The more information you can supply upfront, the smoother the process will be. For larger requests, like a deck replacement, you will want to have a complete scope of the project, a contractor with the appropriate insurance documentation, and a sample of the materials being used. The document being approved can serve as a contract between the owner, contractor, and HOA. It can be a legally binding agreement. The more comprehensive the project, the more documentation will be needed. Many communities will post a template or an example of what the committee requires for approval.

It may seem controlling for an HOA to care so much about how an owner goes about the maintenance of their home. However, it is important to keep in mind that HOAs are about the community. Make sure you are educated on what is allowed in your community and how to go about implementing changes to your property.