By Alex Belida, Board Liaison to the Architectural Control Committee (ACC)

With warmer weather on the way, a New Mark resident decides to replace his shabby front door. He looks across the way and sees a neighbor’s door and decides that is the one he wants. He goes to the store, orders the door and in just a few days workers arrive and install it. This resident is happy.

But a month later he receives a letter in the mail telling him his door does not comply with New Mark’s Architectural Control regulations and he must remove it. He fumes. “But I put in the same door my neighbor has,” he says to himself, “How can that be wrong?”

What this fictitious resident doesn’t realize is that the neighbor has been informed that his door is illegal and has also been ordered to remove it. This mistake is going to be a costly one for both residents.

This is a reminder to all residents that you must take certain steps before undertaking any exterior work – and that includes replacing doors, windows, roofs, light fixtures, railings, fences, walkways and even repainting your residence in the same color.

First, you should read the Architectural Control Guidelines on New Mark’s website. These spell out what is permitted and what isn’t. Once you have done that, you must submit an application to the Architectural Control Committee. The application must spell out precisely what outside work you want to do. You must include diagrams or blueprints if appropriate and pictures or links to online photos of the material you want to use. You must also notify your immediate neighbors, not to get their approval but simply to let them know as a courtesy.

The ACC meets every month and will review your application and inform you promptly of its decision. For non-controversial exterior work, like repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same color shingles, once your application is received, the ACC will probably notify you even before its next regular meeting to tell you it’s OK to proceed with your project.

The ACC may also deny your application. This usually happens when a resident asks to install something forbidden under the Architectural Control Guidelines or the Covenants. If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal to the Board of Directors. But be forewarned, the Board is unlikely to overrule the ACC when it comes to an application requesting approval for a forbidden modification – even if someone else in the neighborhood has such a non-compliant modification in place.

The Board and the ACC are aware there are a significant number of cases in New Mark in which residents have installed non-compliant doors, sheds, fences, light fixtures and more. You should know the Board and ACC, in response to community demands, are now taking aggressive action against these violations, most of which are many years old.

Don’t get hit with a violation order that makes you change something you did to your home. Follow the proper procedures. It will save you time and money. And ignorance of the rules is no excuse!