HOA Re-Submission

The first response we received from the HOA’s architectural committee was not great. So we made some changes to address their concerns. This was our re-submission:

Our Letter:

Dear [board members]:

Thank you for your considered comments. We have carefully addressed them, and we have attached the updated plans for our family home. They include significant changes that take your comments into account, and we hope they meet your satisfaction. We also hope we hear back from you soon, as we still hope to break ground in September, so that we can finish our excavation and concrete work by the time the snow flies.

Before we address each of your concerns, we want to talk a little about the project as a whole. This will be the family home for our family of four.. We are working with Shaun as our architect and builder. We asked Shuan to help us design a house that stuck to a few design principles: (1) take advantage of our site’s wonderful west and south views; (2) devise a floor plan that works for our lives and in which no space is wasted, (3) come in on budget, and (4) devise a plan that focuses on a practical use of material and space. 

While our budget is enough to meet our family’s needs, it is very real. And, as I’m sure you already know, construction prices in Summit County are high. That’s one of the reasons we approached the Committee in June, before we had gone through structural engineering, to see if anyone had objections to our major design, which remained unchanged in the packet of plans we submitted to the full committee in August. We did so in compliance with the Bylaws; specifically, Article 10, Section 3, which provides that “It is essential that each Member consult the Architectural Review Committee during the conceptual stage of their planning and before contacting the Building Department of Summit County.” (Emphasis ours). Had any Committee member had major objections to the major design elements of the house, like the exterior shape or the roof, it seems fair that they would have been raised then, before we incurred the time and expense to structurally engineer that design. Instead, [a committee member] told us that “We typically do not issue pre approvals. We are a volunteer board and prefer to review plans only once rather than several times.”

Nevertheless, we have taken your comments and considerations into account. Read collectively, they seek more complexity, and we strove to add it where we could. But please keep in mind that complexity, particularly complexity beyond these revised plans that we have submitted, is expensive. Changing the footprint or shifting to a gable roof would both significantly add to the design and build costs. Our hope is that the Committee’s application of the guidelines and regulations still allows for some beauty in simplicity, like the classic A-frame, and does not serve to price out families like ours. 

With that said, we will turn to addressing each of your points:

We have reviewed the proposal for the [ ] build and have included a Board member as well. While we are open to more mountain / modern designs that are becoming popular lately, we feel that this proposal at this time will be too similar to the property next door in design and color choices, and too much of a simple box for the (perhaps older) mountain architecture of the neighborhood.

It is encouraging to hear you are open to more mountain modern designs. Obviously Summit Sky Ranch is the premiere example – a development of million-dollar homes made up almost exclusively of modern homes similar to our design. Communities build their value through progress, not stasis. The 70s-era A-frame, one of which [I] grew up in, was also a modern design of its time, and now it strikes many of us as the quintessential mountain cabin. We also note that if the Board, through the bylaws, wanted to prohibit single-slope roofs and flat roofs, it could have. But the recent revisions to the bylaws indicate a desire to move in the other direction, towards an allowance for single-slope flat roofs. All of that said, our revisions have addressed your concerns, adding a second plane to the roof and steepening the pitch.

We have some trouble with holding in our minds the idea that our house is at once too similar to the residence next door, and yet too different from the other architecture in the neighborhood. It’s described as a major component of the critique, but its incongruence feels arbitrary. Our house is certainly similar to the [neighbor’s] in that they are both simple geometric forms and angular, but their house orients around a single wall of glass. Ours glasses in corners with the best views and showcases a prominent second-story deck. They are similar in style in large part because they are products of the same era, much like two 70s era A-frames. They also form a set; they would be more jarring standing alone. And our design is echoed by the A-frame standing to our east – a rectangle with a long, single roof line.

The “simple box” complaint is echoed in a number of the more specific comments below. As you can see from the updated plans, we’ve taken steps to address this. The most prominent change has been to break up the roof line into two separate planes. We have also bumped out the north wall to break up that facade. This now leaves us with significant architectural features breaking up each facade of the building: the bump-out and deck to the north, the windows and deck to the east, the windows, deck, and jog to the south, and the windows and deck wrap-around to the west.

Also, keep in mind that the decks will serve to break up the horizontal planes, visually acting almost as separate roofs thanks to their second-story locations.

basically a box with an almost flat roof.  I doubt we would have approved a similar design with a low pitched gable roof.  I would recommend that the mono-roof be broken up into at least one more plane. Same reasoning we used years ago when we were hit with a bunch of modular applications.  

As discussed above, we’ve taken the comments regarding the roof-line to heart, and have broken it up accordingly, incurring time and expense in the process. We have also increased its pitch. The comment suggesting that the building’s shape, setting aside the roof issue, is problematic, is hard to square with the rest of the neighborhood. Numerous houses take the form of either an A-frame – a rectangle with a single steep roof – or other rectangles with less steeply-gabled roofs. And our design features a functional offset for the garage and entryways, as well as additional offsets created by the decks and their varying orientations, in accordance with the guidelines.

I’m not sure what to make out of the 1/12 roof pitch although I doubt it matters what the roof pitch is in this design.  

At least the [neighbor] res. next door has a couple of roof planes.

As discussed above, we’ve now included multiple roof planes, with steeper pitches. Certainly, they are still flatter than many others in the neighborhood. But a flatter roof carries with it many advantages, including: ease of construction and maintenance, material efficiency, and improved sight lines for the neighbors with its low planar form. Mainly, we want to make clear that this was a considered choice that gave its due to the community, its architecture, and Summit County weather.

the north facade is plain and incongruent (scattered window placement) and I also believe it needs to be broken up with some offsets or jogs in the wall plane or similar.  It appears to be forgotten in the design.  

We took this comment to heart and have included a major architectural element to the north elevation. But the suggestion that the plane was forgotten or unconsidered is not accurate. Each and every window placement was considered closely. Granted, they were considered more carefully from the perspective of what each window did for the interiors of the building than from the perspective of the exterior, since only a few houses look onto our home’s north facade. The rest of the world sees the east, south, and west elevations. 

But, from the exterior view, moving from right to left, the three high windows were intended to sit over a set of full-length bookshelves, giving natural light and cross ventilation to the library. In our revised plan, a kitchen bump-out now helps further break up the facade. Next, the two small windows bring natural light into the kitchen, under the upper kitchen cabinets. The lower windows bring as much light as possible into the downstairs activity room for our children, since the room faces north. The powder room and office windows then reach up for light and views, while preserving privacy from the decks of our neighbors to the north. Finally, the office windows focus on the views of the small grove of pines on that corner of the house, while still giving someone working at the desk a view of anyone approaching from the north entrance. The location of each window was chosen to optimize the light and views from each room in the home.

To sum this design up, I believe it could use a little more interest through breaking up the flat facades, roof included.

This comment is probably the best summation of all of the comments taken as a whole. We have taken it to heart by breaking up the roofline and the major sections of the facades, both structurally and through our siding. We have done so at some expense. But please keep in mind that adding additional breaks and detailing, particularly if it means adjusting the building footprint, would come at a very high cost in terms of both time and money.

It is more modern and farther from our established guidelines, even given the allowances we made for [the neighbor]. 

Particularly now with the staggered roof, we have a hard time seeing our design as more modern than the Andersen residence which, on its south elevation – the side most visible from the road – it is an otherwise unbroken sheet of glass and a fireplace. The hallmark of modern design is to erase the boundary between outside and in, and it’s hard to imagine something that does it more than a sheet of glass. The rooflines and decks of our home are intended to break up its facade, now more than ever. Consider, too, its modest length. Both of our long spans are now broken up by major architectural features, and at 40’, they are shorter than the average suburban ranch home and a number of the longest walls of our neighbors.

1×12 mono pitch roof, edpm surface roofing is unprecedented and untested in our environment , 

We have increased our roof pitch, but the suggestion that an EPDM surface is unprecedented and untested is inaccurate. EPDM roofing is a synthetic rubber roofing product commonly used on low-slope buildings in all climate zones, including Summit County climate zone 7. EPDM installations are covered by a standard 30-year warranty, with installations often yielding 50-75 year lifespans. The material is also 100% recyclable, further improving its total life-cycle costs against the more familiar asphalt shingle or metal roof panel installations of the neighbrohood. 

vertical siding throughout, some large unbroken planes, 

We mixed wide and narrow vertical siding for visual interest, with more variation added at the kitchen bump-out, as shown in the revised drawings.However, if you still believe this is not enough variation, we are happy to discuss further changes. But we would like to seek your approval of the structure at this point, so that we may move forward with our permit submission and groundbreaking.

pretty much the same color scheme as next door.

We are happy to adjust the color scheme, though we note that the Bylaws specify earth-toned colors, which we tried to abide by. The development is replete with brown homes. We recognize that the overall shape leans modern, so we want to blend the palette into the landscape and the neighborhood. As above, the critique that our home is too similar to our closest neighbor’s feels like an arbitrary one. But as with the siding, if this is a significant issue we are happy to work with other options. At this point we would like you to consider the structure so that we can hopefully move forward with that phase of the construction. 

Please let me know if there is any way that I may be of assistance

Please let us know if this electronic re-submission is in a convenient format for you, or if you would like us to re-issue paper drawings. And if at all possible, please let us know when we might expect to hear back from you, as we are anxious to move forward if at all possible.

Please understand that we want to build a beautiful home; one that stands as a modern addition to an evolving community. We want to do so on a reasonable budget so that our family can move to this wonderful community. And we have heard your concerns and have done our best to address them while still designing a home we can afford to build. We hope you will meet us here, in the middle, and approve this set of updated plans. 

Thank you so much for your time, and for your consideration of these issues. We are so looking forward to joining the Community.

Our Redesign

The new design included new elements that responded to their concerns:

And we crossed our fingers