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Getting Your Exterior Project Approved: the DRB

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). A few weeks ago I posted on blog on how to get your exterior project approved.  

The process really isn’t hard, but it still seems to fill people with dread. I’m not sure why. I find working the DRB very easy. I’m not just saying that because I’m on the RA board. For years I have helped my clients (and friends and neighbors) get the changes to their homes approved. I have discovered three simple tips for making the whole process smooth sailing.

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

It is not fun to get a letter from RA saying you’re in violation of design standards, even though your neighbor has the same deck or new windows. In most cases, 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 time in the long run.

The moral is: don't assume because your neighbor has done something that it is okay. 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 can feel slow, but it’s the surest way to get your project approved. 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

The biggest asset you have in the DRB process is your covenants advisor. They know your neighborhood and what the DRB is looking for. They are a tremendous resource when it comes to planning your alteration/addition. Work with 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

The DRB plays an important role in upholding the design standards that make Reston so unique. I think you’ll find that within the design standards, there is still room for creativity. So enjoy the process — and enjoy the changes to your home!

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