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Reston Real Estate: How to Get Your Exterior Project Done, or At Least Approved

by Eve Thompson March 28, 2017 at 10:15 am 15 Comments

Spring is in the air and people are thinking about all the ways they want to spruce up the outside of their homes. It’s exciting. But in Reston, it may not be fast.

If you are part of Reston Association, that plan is going to have to be approved, and it takes time. Here is a primer on the RA Design Review Board application process.

First, this is not something you need to dread. The DRB application procedures are very easy to follow. It just takes a little bit of time. But you will have help along the way: the Covenants Advisors are one of Reston homeowners’ greatest resources that nobody knows about. They are here to help make the design review process the easiest part of your renovation project.

DRB Application Procedures

The Reston Association website has all the phone numbers and forms you need. Here is a recap of the DRB application procedures.

1. Contact RA to find out who your Covenants Advisor is. They’ll meet with you and advise you on your project and everything you’ll need for your application.

2. Submit your application. The application can be found on the RA website. The application includes the following:

  •  A detailed written description of the proposed exterior modification or addition
  • Scale drawings
  • A site plan showing the size and location of project
  • Photographs of the existing condition
  • A brochure, detail sheet or catalog photo of materials
  • Estimated project completion date
  • Signatures of at least three different property owners adjacent to or within view of your alteration or improvement. If your property is located within a Cluster Association, at least one of the signatures must be that of a Cluster Officer.

3. Bring in or mail your application to the Reston Association.

4. Property Visit. RA staff and/or members of the DRB may visit and possibly photograph your property for reference.

5. Attend the DRB review panel meeting. While not all projects go in front of the full DRB review panel, if your project does require it, you should plan on attending the meeting. Your Covenants Advisor can you let you know when it’s on the agenda.

Those are the basic steps. If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. Or you can revise the plans to meet RA Design Covenants and Guidelines and resubmit your application. However, if you work with your Covenants Advisor and follow the RA guidelines, your project should be approved and you are on your way!

What do you have planned? Let me know.

  • Jenny Gibbers

    This is a nightmare not a process, lets be frank.

    • The Constitutionalist

      More people need this information before they decide to purchase in Reston.

      • Bernie Supporter

        I don’t remember when they spring the RA and the DRB on you when you buy here. Do you? (Is it at the closing or before?)

        In any event —

        1) There should be a big red warning pamphlet that all realtors give you before you even look in Reston; and

        2) There should be a big red warning sticker on the front page of what you have to sign. (This is already too late though. Chances are you’ve already sold your last house and packed up all your furniture.)

        • The Constitutionalist

          I would be interested in seeing the number of first time homeowners in Reston vs the # of 2nd or 3rd time buyers. The issue isn’t that they aren’t told the process, the issue is that the process is ridiculous.

        • Jenny Gibbers

          DRB jumps on the seller after closing. At which point the whole ordeal is anti-consumer and many of the entities you may deal with are unfriendly and obnxious because they know they have the upper hand in this mandated process.

          Which brings me to my next question: are you a candidate or close to a candidate running in RA? Which one?

          • Bernie Supporter

            Nope. Just live next to SJW — and I’m really, really pissed with what’s going on, as if you couldn’t tell. Last night, Bozutto had a big P&Z “informational” meeting but I don’t see it covered yet in RestonNow. I hope that changes because a lot of great things were said about this project. I spotted only 3 of the board candidates there: Mooney, Krieger & Carr (although there could have been others that I missed). They did great work and they all spoke up for the community. Better still, instead of just repeating what others said, each threw a different another log on the fire. One guy outshone them all. (Sorry, I didn’t catch his name and I didn’t recognize him because he’s not running for the board.) But he sounded like a trial lawyer and did this incredible summation with a running thread of “Size matters.” He used it so often that the entire turnout — which was huge — not only applauded him, but repeatedly chanted the catch phrase along with him. A majority of RA Board members turned out last night, but not all of them. Only one spoke, and that was Wendall (although he was also the only speaker who went over his allotted time). Best of all, there were a LOT of Reclaim Reston’s yellow shirts in the crowd. Did you go?

          • Jenny Gibbers

            No but thanks for the info.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Please note: I have edited my initial post to reflect that the third candidate who was there was actually Mike Collins. Thank you Mike Collins for standing up and speaking out of behalf of the community.

  • Bernie Supporter

    I love how the DRB will have a “thumbs down” hissy-fit if you want to change anything that it deems “doesn’t fit in” with your residential neighborhood … but without blinking an eye will approve monster projects like the redevelopment of St. John’s Woods, which doesn’t even come close. What bureaucratic hypocrites.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      I thought this was already clarified. FFX Cty covers new development, with input fr community and RA/DRB, whereas DRB covers existing homes within its jurisdiction.

      So no, DRB has no power over SJW as the county basically decides.

      • Bernie Supporter

        Admittedly I do seem to be confused by this. Because at the P&Z meeting last night, DRB was citied as one of the yes/no powers in this process. I guess the reason I believe that DRB will have a big say in this is because of what another woman from Reclaim Reston did last night. (Sorry, can’t remember her name either.) But she showed side by side photos of the SJW design and the Metro building design, and they were virtually identical. Those photos and the “Size Matters” slogan guy were incredibly powerful, and I think speak directly to what I believe the mission and authority of the DRB is. Of course, I could be wrong. But I sure hope I’m not.

      • Mike M

        Both the Board of Supervisors and RA have influence. it’s a question of whose side they are really on. Fire Hudgins and Bulova.

      • Wheat-T

        So you are saying that the Reston Design Review has absolutely no say over the proposed HUGE development around the Reston Subway, which looks like it belongs in Stalinist Russia?

  • 30yearsinreston

    The DRB are too lazy to get off their butts and inspect anything
    They tried to refuse my paint selection even when the same color was allowed across the street and hundreds of houses are n Reston had it
    If you want to see them have an apoplectic fit, ask for a white picket fence

  • Vern

    Thank you for breaking it down, Eve. It’s simpler and easier than people think it is. We have great volunteers on the Design Review Board and a staff that is always willing to go the extra mile to assist homeowners.


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