RE: Design Review (ie remodeling)
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 94 11:30 CDT
Susan Paris   asked:
 Does anyone out there have Design Review
guidelines or manuals?  We would love to see them, and will reimburse for
postage and copying costs.  Also any info about what seems to work/not
work in the 'approval' process.

Hi Susan

Up the road in Snohomish County, Sharingwood has been struggling over 
the whole design review issue.  We have a ad hoc Architectural Review 
group which reviews each house plan. Here are the goals for review:

Promotes a relationship to the community
Offers a diversity of size and price
Takes advantage of the natural features of the landscape
Co-exists with the current housing.

Exactly what these goals mean are up to  the committee to define case 
by case. We were going to get more specific and after lots of input and 
debate we decided to let the conscience of the committee deal with 
Architectural Review rather than some decree.  The board of directors 
has oversight over the committee and any disputes are handled by the 
board.  House color is good example. There is no rule that says you 
can't paint your house red, but it is obvious that a red house would 
not "co-exist with the current houses" which is one of the above review 
goals.  ( At Sharingwood we have all chosen natural house colors to 
blend in with the woods so bright red would really be out of place.)

Remodeling additions and changes we let the "system" dictate what 
happens.  That is if I wanted to paint my house bright red, the system 
(my neighbors) would convince me otherwise if that didn't fit with what 
they wanted.  The informal process we use is just to ask the immediate 
houses about things which might impact them.  We have a more formal 
process for the removal of large trees, which must be approved by the 
grounds committee. There is a high degree of trust and since we know 
each other so well it would be hard to imagine someone doing a major 
improvement to their house without it being topic of dinner 
conversation at least once. (this is why we felt we didn't need any 
more specific "rules" about remodeling or design stuff).  Communication 
works such that if you tell one person, everyone knows. (This is not 
always true of course.)

We have a legal backup in case of mass trust failure.  There are 
covenants in our condo declarations which state that all improvements 
must be approved by the board, and if improvements are made by the 
owner without board approval the board can hire people to undo the 
improvement at the owners expense.  So if I blow off my neighbors and 
paint my house bright red, the board can hire people to paint my house 
back to a more sensible color, and I would have to pay for it.

Rob Sandelin

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