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Reston Real Estate: Working with Reston Association’s Design Review Board

by Eve Thompson January 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1 Comment

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This is a sponsored column by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. She writes twice weekly on Reston Now.

If you’re living in Reston, chances are you are a member of Reston Association. That means if you want to make a change to the exterior of your home, you’ll need the approval of the Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB).

For some reason, working with the DRB fills many people with dread. I’m not sure why. Working the DRB is really very easy. I’m not just saying that because I’m on the RA board and am DRB Liaison. For years, I’ve helped my clients (and friends and neighbors) work with the DRB. There are three simple tips for making the whole process smooth sailing.

1. Don’t assume that what your neighbor did is OK

There is no worse surprise than building your deck or adding a few windows only to get a letter from RA saying your in violation of design standards. In most of these situation, had the homeowner shown the plans to the DRB, the plans would have been approved with just a minor adjustment—saving the homeowner a lot of money and misery in the long run.

How can you avoid this mistake? Easy. Don’t assume because your neighbor has done something that it is OK. If you want to build an addition or make an alteration, contact RA and go through the design review process. The time you spend upfront will save you time and money later.

2. Follow the Process

My second piece of advice for homeowners is to simply follow the process. It’s not difficult. The Reston Association website provides very detailed information about what the DRB covers, how to fill out the application, and who to talk to if you have questions. (Hint, it’s your covenants advisor. Call 703-435-6530 to find yours.)

3. Take advantage of the Covenants Advisors

Your covenants advisor is a tremendous resource when it comes to planning your alteration/addition. They know what the guidelines are and they know what will or will not get DRB approval. You can save yourself tremendous time and energy by reaching out to them from the beginning. Some of the things they’ll do for you include:

  • Sending you the guidelines or cluster standards that relate to your project
  • Advising you about the information you will need to provide with your application
  • Explaining how the review process works and what level of review and application will be necessary
  • Giving you an estimate of how long the review process might take for your project
  • Working with them is a benefit of RA membership. So use it!

The DRB plays an important role in upholding the design standards that make Reston so unique. Enjoy the process—and enjoy the the changes to your home.

  • Greg

    In my opinion, the DRB is the single worst part about owning a home in Reston. While there is so much I love about living in Reston, I really hate that
    part of our RA dues (8%) goes to enforcement of the design standards. I know no one who thinks that the design standards are a net benefit to Reston.

    Approvals seem arbitrary in my experience and take a lot longer than you would expect. I’ve put off several projects for years now to avoid the approval process.

    Ignore the DRB at your peril. Follow the process at your peril. Neither is an attractive option.

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