We had hoped to get the engineered plans back a few days before our HOA meeting. But, in what I expect will be a trend, things went slightly slower than expected. We ended up printing the plans at a FedEx an hour before the meeting.
I was pretty jumpy; the day before the meeting we re-read the HOA Architectural Review Guidelines and realized a couple of things: (1) the application required us to tender a $5,000 check that the HOA would hold during the review process, and (2) our plans needed to specify things we hadn’t determined yet, like exterior colors. And not just general colors either – they wanted specific color numbers from a specific manufacturer.
On one hand, some of that made sense; the committee was largely looking at how the new house would “fit” with houses already in the community. But the HOA meeting was in August. We were trying to move things along, hoping to break ground in early September. That way we could get all of the excavation, foundation, and dirt/cement work done by the time the hard freezes come along in late October or early November. Like most things in construction, we can solve the problems of cold ground and freezing temps in order to pour concrete, but we would need to solve them with money. So we had been focusing on the structural issues that impact our ability to pull permits and determine what foundation work we need. Not worry about what shade of grey our trim is going to be.
So we guessed. Took wild swings at exterior colors, and specified that everything is going to be wood, even though we’ll likely want to do most of our exterior in composites. Basically, we wanted to get something down on pape.
Our very rough guesses looked a little something like these colors, all from Valspar
The other stressful bit was our roof. The HOA guidelines required multiple rooflines and preferred a pitch exceeding 5/12 (5 feet of drop for every 12 horizontal feet). But, they allowed for other options subject to the committee’s approval. Our design had neither multiple pitches nor a pitch exceeding 5/12. But it should be weather-tight and fire resistant. And just last year the HOA approved our neighbor’s house, which also has a flat-ish roof.
It was about at this point that I realized what parts of this process feel stressful. The idea of spending money or making decisions wasn’t hugely stressful. But waiting for someone else’s decision on something, like a seller’s decision to accept an offer, or an HOA’s decision to approve of plans – was super stressful. Particularly if no hard-and-fast guidelines govern the decision. Submitting for permits didn’ tworry me too much because the county is working off of firm guidelines: the building code, setback requirements, maximum height requirements. And satisfying those requirements is Shaun’s job. But the HOA guidelines weren’t hard-and-fast rules. Particularly when it came to the roof, where we were doing something not preferred by the guidelines, though not prohibited.
The HOA Meeting
The HOA meeting itself was fairly uneventful. We introduced ourselves and our kids and got to know some of the other people in the development. The issues on the agenda were along the lines of what we expected: a few parties; dark sky lighting; some people not screening their trash; some issues with the water services. Nothing major, and nothing that felt unreasonable. It seemed like a good HOA. They also didn’t have a ton to do, since the HOA didn’t own any common property, like a community pool.
Handing off the building plans at the end of the meeting was a little more stressful. Two of the three committee members were there, and I made sure to plug the fact that we wanted to break ground as quickly as we had permits, and the fact we had focused on the structural issues so far rather than the aesthetic ones. They said they understood, and sounded like they were looking for a time to meet within the next week.