One of the many committees that play a significant role in an HOA is the Architectural Review Committee (ARC). Unlike other groups, this committee takes a more active role in managing the exterior design and aesthetic of the community. In doing this, they must practice fair and reasonable standards so that all parties involved maintain compliance with the HOAs code of ethics.
An Architectural Review Committee (ARC) is a committee primarily made of volunteers that are responsible for reviewing any exterior changes or modifications to a homeowner's property. A large part of the ARC’s role is to maintain the community aesthetic by assuring that all members follow the rules set forth by their CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, & Regulations). In some cases where the HOA is smaller in size, an ARC may not be necessary. In this situation, the ARC is often run by the board or a delegated committee member. Some common responsibilities may include:
Authority is often exercised by the standards set forth by the HOA. Any decision made by the ARC must be submitted to the board for approval. With that being said, the ARC is responsible for providing all necessary details regarding the homeowner's request or application. In addition, when delegating decisions, an ARC member must abide by specific standards:
The relationship between the homeowner and ARC is extremely important — especially when you’re given the responsibility to decipher decisions regarding someone's home. In order to create a stronger trust between both parties, an ARC should elect volunteers that are knowledgeable and experienced in the fields of construction or home building. This includes those that are well-versed with their community's CC&R and bylaws.
More times than not, an HOA may consider electing inexperienced volunteers out of good faith because they may not have enough volunteers to fill the role. Although some may find this a temporary workaround, it’s not encouraged. In times such as this, the board should consider the guidance of their property manager or elect one of the board members to fill the role until an experienced volunteer can be considered.
Having a clearly defined process is an important part of ensuring an ARC’s success — this goes for both the ARC and the homeowner. While the process for all HOAs may be different, they commonly work in the same way. For an ARC member, the process usually takes place in the following steps:
If a request is denied, the ARC must provide the homeowner with the proper steps to request a consideration for revaluation.
In times when larger projects and tasks are being requested, it can be easy to misinterpret one another's roles. You may even find yourself working between multiple groups or individuals that manage multiple decisions at one time. In order to keep all parties involved organized, the ARC should define each committee member's primary responsibility before the start of the year. The purpose of this is to ensure that all members involved practice fair standards within their roles. Here are just a few examples:
In times when multiple homeowners submit requests, it can be easy for documents and applications to get lost in the weeds — this is why record keeping is vital. It not only allows the ARC to track each application's process, but it also ensures that the ARC is practicing fair standards and ethics. It also provides the HOA with a way to show a record of communication when an ARC request is denied and evaluated for reconsideration.
In today's digital world, HOAs now have the opportunity to utilize HOA software as a way to minimize time and maintain accurate record keeping. Software such as this also allows the ARC to easily log all communication and steps exercised during the submission process.
One of the most advanced ways to ensure compliance is by utilizing specialized HOA software. For example, TownSq is a software that provides communities the option to submit ARC requests through a digital application or their platform.
Watch this demo to see the TownSq’s Architectural Review feature in action!