Setting up the Architectural Review Board for Success
As a property manager, you were not only hired for your fantastic skills and amazing personality, but for your ability to manage people. When it comes to people and relationships, emotional connections are necessary. Although software can drive profits, increase productivity, manage multiple teams, and cut costs, it can’t provide the emotional connection and in-person relationships that are needed in order to create a successful team. Relationships are the foundations of what makes business and people come together.
One particular group that is essential to an HOA community is the Architectural Review Board, better known as the Architectural Review Committee (ARC). A large responsibility of being a property manager is to provide your HOA committees and boards with the proper tools and guidelines to be successful. In this article, we take a deeper dive into how to help set your Architectural Review Committee for success.
5 Way to Set Your Architectural Review Committee for Success
1. Know your committee
One of the most important steps to setting your ARC for success is to know who and what they are. It’s also essential to have a strong understanding of their overall purpose, goals, and challenges that they may face along their journey as a new Architectural Review Committee.
An Architectural Review Committee (ARC) is a committee that reviews exterior changes to a home within a community, such as an HOA. This group of volunteers' primary purpose is to regulate and review all architectural changes, including requests set by the HOA and governing documents.
- Consists of HOA volunteers.
- Enforcing guidelines and standards.
- Evaluates applications to ensure each bid is appropriately inspected.
- Making objective decisions regarding guideline compliance.
- Maintaining the property value of the HOA community.
- Protects property values.
- Good faith – A decision on a proposed change shall be made in good faith and may not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious (Civ. Code § 4765(a)(2)).
- Fair Employment and Housing Act – Any decisions or proposed changes may not violate any governing provision of law, including, but not limited to, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Part 2.8 (commencing with Section 12900) of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).
- A written hard copy – All decisions must be provided in writing, especially if the decision is denied — a detailed explanation of why the request was denied, along with a description and procedure for reconsideration, must be provided (Civ. Code § 4765(a)(4)).
- Code compliance – Any approval or denial for request made must comply with the HOAs governing documents.
What challenges do the Architectural Review Committee face?
Although all Architectural Review Committees are different, their overall purpose is the same — to maintain and protect the property's value. There’s no success that doesn’t come with challenges. In order to better understand your ARC, it’s important to understand the challenges that come with the role.
- Staying uniform - It can be difficult to keep personal opinions and emotions separate from the decision making process.
- Selective enforcement - This is when an HOA allows variations to the guidelines. For example, an HOA cannot enforce a rule against one HOA member while not enforcing that same rule against the entire HOA community.
- Lack of a knowledgeable attorney - When an ARC finds themselves in a legal standstill, they will need to seek legal advice in order to make the best decision.
- Owners have the right to appeal - Being that homeowners are given the opportunity to appeal a decision within 30 days, an ARC can be challenged when it comes to working with those that are unwilling to cooperate.
- Non-experienced volunteers - Due to the committee's structure, ARC committees often find it challenging to find experienced and knowledgeable volunteers to help lead the committee.
2. Train and educate
One of the most important factors of being a successful team is by having a well-rounded and educated team. As a property manager, you have a large responsibility to help your teams succeed.
- Offer detailed training regarding the Fair Housing Act.
- Create an in-house manual on fair housing provisions and guidelines.
- Provide videos and examples of common scenarios that may occur during the teams course of being on the ARC committee.
- Establish best practices for communication as a team and community leader.
- Connect with professionals such as a consultant that specializes in ARC committee procedures and guidelines.
- Ask former ARC committee members to provide their feedback and experience while being on the ARC committee — sources such as this can work as a strong mentor for your team.
- Provide guidance on legal procedures and policies.
3. Build a roadmap
Providing a clear roadmap for your ARC committee is a great way to create transparency and clear goals for your team. When team members are provided with long-term goals and clear expectations, they’re able to build a stronger foundation.
We put together an example of what a roadmap might look like. Download your own template here to get started with your committee!
One of the most important tools that an ARC committee will need is proper software. A large part of the ARC committee's responsibility is reviewing their communities' applications. In order for the committee to keep requests and applications organized, software such as the TownSq Arch feature can be utilized as a way to quickly review, approve (or deny), and notify homeowners’ architecture requests.
- Homeowners are able to instantly submit applications on TownSq
- Customize forms and applications
- Receive projects and request from homeowners
- Create a strong transparent on how your communities application process
- Real-time interactions between admins and community members
- Committee voting
- Automatically approve or deny request
- Generate decision letter notices and letters
5. Keep an open mind
As a property manager, you may have a set routine on how things usually work. As communities change and develop you will see new members come and go. In addition to this, you will experience new committee members that may want to express new ideas or goals. Keep in mind that change can be hard for some — especially when you experience an HOA community that is set in its ways. In order to experience success, you must keep an open mind for new ideas and change.
- Encourage ARC members to give feedback and suggestions
- Create open opportunities for members to schedule one-on-one meetings with their boards for any new suggestions or concerns they may have.
- Provide your HOA community an opportunity to meet with your ARC committee about any concerns or new announcements. This will be a great way for the community to provide valuable feedback.