The Importance of a Strong ARB

Just about every plantation here in Brunswick County has roads, trees, public water, pool, tennis courts and perhaps a fitness center. There are a handful of others that also have a golf course or two, clubhouse, walking trails and a private beach club.  So at the end of the day, what really separates these communities?

What some folks don’t consciously consider perhaps as enough as they should is the direction the Architectural Review Board is steering the community. What makes a community beautiful is the architectural styles and grace of the homes within her four gates. Trees, flowers, ponds and amenities help, but at the end of the day, if the homes are not attractive on a consistent basis, many people will look elsewhere.

The Architectural Review Boards in BC are initially manned by the developer. Eventually, homeowners are brought onto the board and in due time when the developers leave the community, the ARB is turned over to the residents. Do you know who sits on the ARB of your community and or the community you are considering investing half of your life savings? If you don’t, you better do your research as the ARB can affect your quality of life as much as any one single factor.

At least a few times per month I leave the confines of my keyboard/office and work with clients. Yesterday was one of those days as I spent 9 hours with a couple from Maryland looking at three communities. We previewed about 10 homes and by the end of the day, the couple eliminated two of the three contenders.

In one of the plantations in particular, we were honestly amazed at how maligned the so called ARB haphazardly makes decisions. Driving down street after street we three simply stopped in front of home after home, shook our heads and said “how can this community allow homes like this to be built.”

The root cause of course are the people that design the homes. Quite frankly, very few designers in this area really have a full grasp of designing a home’s exterior that combines the proper balance of building materials, symmetry, balance, lines and curb appeal. In fact, a number of home builders here claim to design their own homes yet unfortunately, you might be lucky to do one well but doing both well is as unusual as snow in North Carolina in July.

A good designer will also put the brakes on clients that want to design a home that makes too much of a personal statement. Let’s face it, there are a lot of us down here from Jersey and New York and many feel that they want/need a home so unique that the home becomes more of an aberration than stately mansion. Drive around our communities and these homes stick out like carrots on a plate full of peas. I chuckle a bit here because years ago a builder in our area had a slogan “homes people talk about” – which in and of itself is a solid motto. However, when designers and homeowners egos and poor design standards are not checked by the ARB, we all talk about these homes for the WRONG reasons!

If you don’t take the ARB seriously now, you might do so later when a 7,000’ home with zero rhyme, reason or architectural appeal casts a shadow over your home. The intent of any ARB is to maintain a consistent balance of attractive homes. If however your ARB consists of non qualified persons, well then, how can one expect them to do a job that they are not capable of?

If you are still doing your research, pay close attention to the homes in the communities you are considering and if you see significant inconsistencies, then just turn around and head to the next one. Your quality of life and value of your home can very much be dictated by an ARB, so make sure that the ARB is influencing your community in a positive manner and not that of a rogue group of unqualified people who can arbitrarily make decisions that impact you negatively.

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