Good morning, and a new member question

Drawn in

Good morning everyone,

I'm new to this forum.  I can't believe I haven't thought to look for an architects forum before now.  Like many architects I work as a sole proprietor. I focus on mostly residential practice, but do work on select commercial projects from time to time.

I have a question regarding services as an HOA member.  I've been approached by a developer to work as an HOA officer for several neighborhoods ranging in size from 300-500 homes.  

Throughout the year they receive (100-150) applications from residents for modifications to their homes, and lots in each these sub divisions, fence installs, decks, additions, color selections, general compliance questions, etc.  My responsibilities would include reviewing, approving or denying requests for the HOA's.  Many of these require as little as 5-10 minutes to approve or deny applications, and some may require actual site visits, and more involvement (1 -2 hours). 

Additionally I may be asked to survey every home once every year or every other year in each subdivision to verify general HOA compliance on landscaping, maintenance, etc.  These surveys would be handled as an extra, reimbursable service each year the survey is performed.

The developer wants a flat rate fee for these yearly services based on a 2-3 year contract, and implementation of that contract arrangement with several subdivisions.  Basically like a yearly retainer fee paid each year for several subdivisions.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought the parameters need to be listed to make an informed response regarding fees.  I wonder what such a yearly fee would be considered appropriate.  My thought was $1,000-$1,500 per subdivision based on a multi year contract for each subdivision.  I'd handle this at first as it ramped up in size, but at some point would hand it off to a part time employee to handle the day to day requests.

Thanks for any advice offered.

Aug 13, 20 3:05 pm

Am I reading this correctly? You're proposing to bill a total of $1500 per subdivision, per year??  For reviewing 100 to 150 separate applications, some of which require site visits? AND "survey" 300-500 homes in each subdivision annually?

If that's what you meant to state, then I think your fee is off by more than a factor of 10. Not to mention that HOA's and licensed professionals get sued all the time for their decisions on these types of applications, and $1500 may not even cover your increased insurance premiums if your carrier gets wind of this type of work.

Aug 13, 20 3:12 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

You're missing a few zeros at the end of your quote... also, HOA type rulings are the worst.  You need an architect to review and approve colour choices?  Get the fuck outtta here with this jive elitist nonsense.

Aug 13, 20 3:26 pm  · 
1  · 

No HOA should need an architect to review this type of stuff. They should have clear guidelines for what is required architecturally, and it should be a simple volunteer committee that meets once a month to review the applications and approve them. That's only for the major renovations or things that are at variance with the guidelines. Most of the minor ones like color choices from an approved palette, or fence replacement following the fence design guidelines, should be in an out of the office in a day or two. A paid administrative assistant is all that is needed for most of those. At most for larger developments, a "compliance officer" could review the straightforward applications.

Aug 13, 20 3:41 pm  · 
Drawn in

People do things that are not HOA approved all the time. HOAs are often still controlled by a developer. The boards talking to me want a design professional, somebody with state licensing. Yes most of the requests applications are a rubber stamp 5-10 minute review. HOA's typically state changes, modifications, additions must pass the board first. This removes residents from having negative issues with other neighbors. I'm not inventing the service I'm just asking about experiences and or comments about fees.


They want a design professional with state licensing because they want to transfer liability from their board to you. Talk to your insurer - mine has a great bar chart showing the % of claims that arise from various types of work, and this type is way up there.


Must be some pretty new developments if they are still under developer control. Usually the transition to homeowner control happens fairly quickly. Developers don't want to be spending their time controlling HOAs, they set them up and then leave after a few years, or after a certain percentage of units are sold. 

It doesn't take a design professional to tell whether or not someone painted their house the wrong color, or never got approval to put in the landscaping in their front yard. An appointed or elected compliance officer is usually all that's needed. I mean don't get me wrong. If they're willing to pay (the right price), and you can make sure you're covered from liability ... go for it. Seems like some easy money ... but definitely worth more than $1500 per development per year.

1  · 

Have you ever dealt with an HOA? I would definitely charge more.

Aug 13, 20 4:05 pm  · 

Yep... I do the recommendation reports for the Architectural Review Committees in a couple high end neighborhoods; about 30 a year.  With site visits, report, and follow-up post construction, it's about 4 hours per project regardless of size.  We do hourly on these sorts of jobs.  I don't feel bad; the application fee covers it; $800 for  minor / $1500 for a major as defined in their covenants.  You might look at that homeowner application fee for a bit a guidance for cost of reviews they'd need you to fit under.

So yes... you are missing a zero unless you are doing it for fun or just a volunteer HOA board member :P   

Aug 13, 20 6:22 pm  · 
3  · 

Here is some perspective. My HOA is for a development that has over 3000 dwellings (roughly 2/3 is SFR, the rest is MFR split between condos and apts), all spread over 900 acres including natural areas, lakes, trails, community sports amenities (2 pools, tennis and basket ball courts, baseball fields, etc.). I'm not sure how that compares with the developments you're looking to get involved with. Our HOA dues are about $800/year, and we don't have any application fees for architectural compliance reviews. 

We don't have an outside design professional for architectural compliance issues ... instead we have a part-time compliance officer. 

I couldn't find wage numbers for just the compliance officer, but together with the community manager, asst community manager and office assistant (all full-time) they are budgeted for $250,000 in payroll wages per year. That's just wages, it doesn't include benefits or payroll tax. So play with the numbers how you want to, and take a stab at what the part-time compliance officer makes in wages, but I'd guess it's somewhere close to $35-40k annually.

We budgeted more that $1500 for a lot of things. Here are some interesting ones. $4k for uniforms for maintenance workers and lifeguards. $3k for fuel and mileage on HOA-owned power tools and vehicles. $6k for pool maintenance contract. $6k for accounting services. $5k for tax prep. $4k for janitorial cleaning of the HOA office twice a month.

Aug 13, 20 7:23 pm  · 
1  · 

I think you missed a few zeros

Aug 13, 20 7:29 pm  · 

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