HOA Architectural Committee Response

The first round of review with the HOA’s architectural committee did not go well. This is what we were proposing:

The committee rejected our plans. I won’t repeat the notes here, but basically, they didn’t like that it was a box with a flat roof. It was too different from other houses in the neighborhood, yet somehow too similar to our neighbor’s modern design.

Our initial, private response was not fit to print. What was particularly galling was the self-contradictory nature of some of the critiques. Our design is too similar to our closest neighbor’s, yet too different from the rest of the neighborhood? What?

The night we received the critiques, we sat down with Shaun to discuss our options. One was to play hardball. An HOA’s decisions can’t be “arbitrary,” and elements of this felt pretty arbitrary. Like complaining about our color choices being too similar to our neighbor’s in a development full of brown houses. We expected any structural changes to be expensive in terms of both time and money, but Shaun offered a couple of potential compromises

One was to split the roof into two planes and bump out some element of the facade two feet or so. Both would add some “small” additional material costs, but not a lot in the way of complicated additional engineering. Additional major changes to things like the foundation would be costly in terms of both time and money.

We decided to walk a middle route, taking steps to address each of the committee’s major gripes: the boxy nature of the house and the long north wall; the single flat roof; the siding; and the paint. We would hope the architectural committee would approve of a middle ground option that didn’t require major changes. But if they didn’t, we would consider picking a fight if their proposed changes would end up picking $50,000 out of our pocket.

We worked up a couple of options for roof slope, including a double 2/12 pitch (two feet of drop for every 12 horizontal feet), a double 1/12 pitch, and a mix of pitches.

We ultimately opted for the double 2/12 pitch, since it addressed both their “planes” and “pitch” complaints. I leaned toward the double 1/12 pitch, but it wasn’t really a significant change from our proposed single 1/12. And the mix of pitches made it look a little like the house was wearing a hat. Doing anything more different than a double 2/12 on the roof front, like adding gables, would significantly increase costs.

Then we looked at the north wall, even though hardly anybody else will. The wall is only visible to a couple of neighbors, and it’s invisible to the street. Shaun proposed either a kitchen bump-out, which would require some additional engineering, or a picture window in the place of our library, which would offer views of nothing and would take away our ability to cross-ventilate the living room.

North wall options

We opted for the bump-out, which not only looked better, but also seemed to more directly address the Committee’s complaints. The bump-out would take a little extra engineering, and the structural engineers still hadn’t gotten back to us with fully-engineered plans, so it would add a little time to our timeline. But the hope was that we will still be on-track for a September or early October ground-breaking. And we hoped the committee would accept the new proposal.