Think Like an Architect: How to Pass a Style Review

It’s unfortunate when a homeowner’s biggest fear is how much a dream house will cost or how long it will take to construct, but instead in the event the local design review board will surpass the house he or she desires on the property.

We have all heard the horror stories: projects taking years to have accepted, neighbors stopping other neighbors from building a similar-size house, and neighborhood design review associates making purely subjective recommendations — inflating a budget by tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Just a few days ago, a neighborhood planner suggested that the best way to achieve what my client wanted is to bulldoze the existing house and garage and move them back 5 feet. Our funding was for a 400-square-foot inclusion, not a brand new 2,400-square-foot home.

Dylan Chappell Architects

So what’s the magic bullet promising your new home will pass design inspection? Here’s the key. Sorry. Understanding the psychology will up your chances of success.

Most design review boards have a tendency to share the same goal: to promote growth that exemplifies the very best professional practices to enhance the visual quality of the surroundings, benefit surrounding property values and prevent inferior layout. Obviously, the aim changes by area and means something completely different at a downtown area than it will in a rural residential one.

Natalie Myers

The very best thing you can do is to participate your local planning department in the thinking stage of your project. The sooner, the better. This will make certain you don’t end up spending money on a layout that won’t ever get accepted.

The tips below will help your house project pass muster. Some may seem like good ol’ ordinary sense, but they are all incredibly important.

Designs Northwest Architects, Dan Nelson

Work with design professionals who have an established relationship with your local planning department. This is particularly important if the home is in a place with a complex design review process. It makes no sense for you to cover for somebody else to understand the ropes.

Union Studio, Architecture & Community Design

Make the size, scale, form and placement of your building compatible with nearby properties. You also want it to make sense together with the dominant locality or district development routine. In the event of the homes have a long driveway leading to a garage back, don’t presume your front-and-center three-car garage will sail through the plan process.

Archiverde Landscape Architecture

Have the project’s site layout and orientation at an appropriate relationship to each other. Make sure the site design has a well-designed relationship to the ecological qualities, open spaces and topography of the property too. Is your new outdoor kitchen overlooking your neighbor’s swimming? If that’s the case, be ready to sink more bucks to some redesign.

Designs Northwest Architects, Dan Nelson

Think of the big picture in respect to landscaping. As well as creating your landscape in percentage to your project and property, is preservation of specimen or landmark trees an issue? What about vegetation? Plant selection should be suitable to the layout. And be sure to demonstrate adequate irrigation and maintenance features.

Designs Northwest Architects, Dan Nelson

Pick consistent materials, colours and compositions for all sides of your building. Architectural elements and details should be carried around all areas of the building, developing a consistent and unified exterior composition. True, these are factors that are subjective, however, most design issues are. Study the appearance and layout of houses in your region. Get a sense for what your design review board has greenlighted.

John Hill

Be a great neighbor. It’s always recommended to share your proposed plan together with your neighbors before the design review meeting. Most neighbors are going to be in support of any developments to the area, and it will allow you to avoid negative comments from them during the assembly. Design review boards always find projects having the help of the neighbors simpler to approve than those that don’t.

Tell us Do you have any design review process nightmares or victories others may learn from? Please share your story in the Remarks.

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