CURRENT ARCHITECTURAL COVENANTS GUIDELINES
One of the many benefits of living in our neighborhood
is the quality and harmony of our homes surrounded by an established wooded environment.
This aesthetic quality has been preserved over the last sixty years through covenants
that run with the land and legally bind all residents. It is the combination of
these covenants, plus the friendliness of neighbors working together, which make
our neighborhood such a nice place to live.
The primary purpose of the
Covenants is to preserve and enhance property values throughout the Wood Acres
neighborhood by enforcing consistent architectural and landscape design standards
for homeowners implementing improvements to their property and homes. These guidelines
are intended to provide guidance to homeowners considering renovations about the
Committee's likely interpretation of the Covenant standards. These Guidelines
are not hard and fast rules, and the Committee may exercise discretion in the
application of these Guidelines in the particular circumstances of any particular
application, taking into account special conditions of topography, foliage, lot
plan or safety. The Committee understands that it cannot predict the structural,
design and material innovations that will be presented in applications in the
years to come. However, certain issues have come up with enough frequency in recent
years that we have tried, for the sake of applicants and their neighbors, to identify
key issues. It is our belief that everyone will benefit if more of the Covenants
Committee's thought processes are recorded.
These Guidelines encourage
the use of qualified architects, design professionals, and builders to create
sensitively designed home improvements throughout the neighborhood using quality
building materials and appropriately crafted details and construction standards.
PLEASE REVIEW THESE COVENANTS AND GUIDELINES WITH YOUR ARCHITECT AND/OR CONTRACTOR
PRIOR TO THE SUBMISSION OF YOUR APPLICATION TO THE COVENANTS COMMITTEE. Applicants
often find that an early stage review of these covenants with their architect
and/or contractor results in a better design plan and greatly expedites the Application
and construction process.
II. BASIC PROCEDURES
Committee. Several covenants govern the permissible improvements, which can be
made on a Wood Acres lot. In order to ensure compliance with these covenants,
the Board of the Wood Acres Citizens Association has created a Covenants Committee
composed of current Wood Acres homeowners to review and approve all proposed improvements.
This Committee meets regularly once a month to review and act on Applications
submitted by homeowners for proposed improvements.
B. Standards. The Committee
publishes these Guidelines to assist homeowners in determining in advance whether
a contemplated addition or alteration is likely to be approved or disapproved
by the Covenants Committee. These guidelines are intended as a broad statement
of applicable standards. However, special conditions of topography, foliage, lot
plan or safety may cause the Committee to grant exceptions to these Guidelines.
The burden to establish grounds for granting such exception is upon the applicant.
(Alternatively, a homeowner may use the procedure set forth in the twelfth article
of the covenants to obtain an exception to the covenants). It is also the sole
responsibility of the applicant to abide by all applicable local zoning and building
code requirements. Lack of compliance may lead to legal action.
of Improvements. The following improvements are representative (but not inclusive)
of projects requiring approval by the Covenants Committee: fences, landscape wall
installations, major regrading and landscaping of lots, decks, conversion of garages
to living space, conversion of screened porches to living space, new porch entrances,
one and two story additions, freestanding structures such as garages, sheds, play
structures or tree houses exceeding 10 feet in height, and other similar modifications
to the structure involving the movement of exterior walls. Certain improvements
are prohibited. For prohibited structures and limitations to improvements see
Sections III. through VII.
D. Application and Consultation with Neighbors.
Prior to the commencement of work on any structural change or improvement including
those noted in II., C., a homeowner is required to submit an Application to the
Committee and receive approval. In accordance with the FIRST Covenant and where
the improvement involves major structural changes to the exterior of the house,
the Committee requires that the applicant include with the Application photographs
of the existing house and surrounding properties and architectural drawings prepared
by a licensed architect or design professional in sufficient detail to enable
the Committee to visualize clearly the proposed completed structure. The Committee
encourages the applicant to provide any additional information, which he/she feels
would be useful to the Committee in making its decision. In addition, the Committee
requires evidence that the proposed improvement has been discussed with the homeowner's
neighbors who would be affected by the improvement and that any objections have
been adequately documented. This usually includes neighbors on both sides and
behind the homeowner and other nearby lots, which would view the proposed improvement,
but can include other neighboring lots, depending upon the size of the improvement
and the configuration and topography of the lots involved. Remember that your
proposed construction may impact the value of your neighbor's homes as well. Members
of the Covenants Committee may ask to make a personal inspection of the premises
and discuss the proposal with the applicant so as to better evaluate the Application
request. Nearby neighbors may also be contacted for their views on the proposed
improvement. The Committee will determine whether any objections or specific concerns
of neighbors to the proposed changes are reasonable and justified.
Responsibilities. It is the responsibility of each applicant to inform their neighbors
who may have a direct view of the proposed home improvement, such that the affected
neighbors have a thorough understanding of those improvements. The applicant shall
meet and discuss any concerns the neighbors may raise during the review of such
home improvements. Please allow your neighbors at least five (5) business days
to review and consider your request prior to asking for their signature on your
2. Neighbor Responsibilities. It is the responsibility of each
neighbor reviewing an Application to have a thorough understanding of how the
applicant's proposed home improvement may affect their property. If any concerns
exist, the neighbors reviewing the proposed home improvements shall make note
on the proposed Application or provide attached correspondence for the applicants'
and Committees' review and action. Neighbors must advise the Covenants Committee
during the Application process if they are opposed to specific elements of a proposed
Figure 1 indicates the adjacent neighbors that should be
consulted to review the applicants proposed construction or improvement. Signatures
from those neighbors indicated are required on the Request for Approval of Improvements
form in Section VIII.
E. Review Process. The Covenants Committee currently meets on the first Wednesday
of each month. Applications should be submitted to the Chairperson of the Committee
at least one week prior to the scheduled meeting. If no Applications are received
one week prior to the monthly meeting, the meeting may be cancelled at the discretion
of the Chairperson. Because the Committee may have questions or concerns about
details in your Application, which might require the Application to be resubmitted
at a subsequent meeting, you should submit your completed Application to the Committee
at least forty days prior to the scheduled commencement of any construction (perhaps
longer for major projects). After the Committee has reviewed an Application, it
may approve the Application (with or without recommendations), disapprove the
Application (with or without recommendations), or require further information
from the applicant. The Committee will promptly communicate its decision to the
applicant via telephone and confirm in writing via first-class mail. The Covenants
Committee's approval is for the purposes of the neighborhood legal covenants only,
and is not an approval or substitute for compliance with local zoning and building
codes or other requirements of the county or state; such requirements are the
sole responsibility of the homeowner or applicant's agent. The Architectural Covenants
Committee approval is good for a period of twelve months; afterwards, if construction
has not yet commenced, a new Application must be submitted. (Approvals received
during November, 2004 will have until November, 2005 to commence construction.)
F. Maintenance. Maintenance of existing conforming structures and refurbishing
to like-new condition does not require Covenant Committee approval. Replacement
of windows or doors without modification to the existing structure does not require
prior Committee approval. To the extent possible, window types and exterior dimensions
shall be similar to existing window sizes and styles to harmoniously unify the
new addition with the existing house.
III. GENERAL CRITERIA
A. Appearance. In evaluating an Application, the Committee gives due consideration
to the appearance of the improvement as viewed from the public way and as viewed
from all adjacent lots. Please be considerate of your neighbors and remember that
the aesthetic quality of the home improvement should accrue to everyone's property
value. The basic requirement for any improvement is that it should attractively
blend with the residence in question and with the other homes in the area. The
choice of materials, quality of construction and exterior painting and other finishes
must match or closely blend with the existing structure. Generally, the Committee
evaluates the potential effect of any construction upon:
a. the immediately
adjoining lots to the sides and rear;
b. other nearby lots, which also view
the proposed improvement; and
c. the neighborhood as a whole, with particular
reference to the preservation of
established trees and its open character
and friendly atmosphere.
B. Debris. The homeowner must ensure that construction
will cause a minimum of inconvenience to his/her neighbors and other members of
the community. If a dumpster is required in connection with the project, the dumpster
(where possible) must be located in the homeowner's driveway. In situations where
a dumpster needs to be located on the street, the dumpster must be located as
close to the curb as possible and may not obstruct traffic. Such dumpster must
be marked with reflectors at both ends to improve visibility at night. Arrangements
must be made by the homeowner to avoid overflow of the dumpster and removal of
debris on a regular basis. Where no dumpster is used, the homeowner must take
the necessary steps to have debris kept in one location, preferably off the street,
and collected on a regular basis. Also, where possible, the homeowner must encourage
the contractors to park in front of the homeowner's house, without blocking the
street or interfering with the neighbors' access to their homes.
of Work. Exterior construction is often loud and can constitute a nuisance to
neighbors. Montgomery County law, as of November 2004, permits construction activity,
including roofing, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00
a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekends. However, as a matter of courtesy, homeowners are
urged to restrict loud construction activity (e.g., hammering, operation of motorized
equipment, etc.) until after 8:00 a.m. on weekdays.
D. Construction Schedule.
The applicant and contractor are required to establish the construction schedule
(tentative start and tentative finish dates) and list these dates on the Application
for the neighbor's and Committee's review. The applicant will advise the contractor
of the work hours in section C. above and that applicant and contractor shall
promptly complete the work so as to minimize disruption to the neighborhood.
FENCES AND LANDSCAPE WALLS
In general the Committee encourages the use
of hedges and other planted vegetation such as bushes, shrubs and trees to define
borders, but acknowledges that in some cases residents may prefer fences for safety
1. Height Limitations. Fences will be limited
to 60 inches in height.
a. Fences must not extend into
the front yard (i.e. closer to the street than the front of the house).
b. Corner lots must not contain a fence that extends closer to the curb than the
front face of the house on the adjoining lot.
a. In order
to present a harmonious appearance to the neighborhood, owners shall endeavor
to erect fences that are compatible with those already existing in the immediate
b. Fences must be made of natural materials. Picket or rail fences,
in natural finish or painted to match or blend with the color scheme, shall be
approved. Stockade or shadowbox fences are strongly discouraged, since such fencing
inhibits the "open" character of the neighborhood.
c. Chain link
fencing, light wire fencing are prohibited.
4. Facing. Fences must be constructed
so that the finished side faces the neighbor's property. The Committee encourages
fences that look finished on both sides.
B. Landscape Walls.
The same principles of location applicable to fences apply to above-grade walls.
Retaining walls are also subject to approval by the Committee.
walls should blend in with the adjacent landscaping. Walls greater than 4 feet
in height should be tiered or bantered to reduce the visual impact of the structure
upon adjacent neighbors.
3. Type. Natural weathered fieldstone or brick
are strongly favored for all walls.
a. Treated landscape timbers are generally
favored for smaller scaled walls provided that any portion thereof that is visible
from the front of the property or by any neighbor with a direct line of sight
into the applicant's lot is partially shielded by shrubbery or landscaping.
Above-grade exposed cinder block and exposed concrete block are prohibited.
Simulated stone landscape blocking is disfavored relative to genuine stone; however
newer technologies for synthetic stone materials will be considered on a case
by case basis.
V. STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN EXISTING DWELLINGS
A. General. The design and the materials used on all structural changes to existing
dwellings must be compatible with those of the existing house. The Committee subjects
a proposal to the following considerations: (1) size and location; (2) proximity
to the lot lines; (3) topography; (4) existing foliage; and (5) distance from
B. Conversion of Garage. The design for the conversion
shall be compatible with that of the existing house.
C. Enclosure of Screened
Porches and Entrance Additions. The foregoing principles of care described in
section V., D. are applicable here.
D. One & Two Story Additions
a. Expansive and uninterrupted (bare) exterior walls
are strongly disfavored. The applicant shall carefully design the addition to
minimize the extent to which exterior walls are empty of windows; where interior
design renders exterior windows impracticable (e.g. kitchen cabinets, refrigerator
or range) other means of exterior architectural articulation (e.g. trellis for
plantings) may be requested by the Committee to add visual relief to the elevation.
Additions shall be supported by continuous foundation walls. Discontinuous foundations,
exposed masonry piers or treated landscape timbers supporting additions, with
unenclosed space beneath the proposed addition, are prohibited.
story additions shall have gutter lines that match the gutter lines of the existing
second floor. The use of dormers and intersecting gables should be used to provide
the desired interior wall height.
2. Windows & Doors (Includes Replacement
of Existing Windows)
a. To the extent possible, window types and exterior
dimensions shall be similar to existing window sizes and styles to harmoniously
unify the new addition with the existing house.
b. Windows with true divided
lights or simulated divided lights are in the Committee's view, most consistent
with the Wood Acres colonial style. Muntins installed internal to insulated glass
windows are disfavored, unless exterior and interior applied muntins are provided
to replicate simulated divided lights. Muntins should be colored to match color
of existing window muntins.
c. Fixed and casement windows are permitted, provided
they are broken down into smaller glass lights by muntins as described in V.,D.,
d. Shutters on the front elevation of the house should be provided
at windows to closely match original shutters. Shutters or window ornamentation
on side and rear elevations of the house are generally favored.
e. Large expansive
(picture) windows or doors without glass dividers are disfavored.
doors with true divided lights or simulated divided lights are strongly favored
as described in V.,D., 2., b.
3. Exterior Elevation Materials
Brick to match the existing brick size is favored. Natural undressed stone is
favored as accent. Synthetic stone materials are disfavored.
b. Finished wood
and cement board clapboard siding are permitted. Aluminum or vinyl clapboard siding
are also permitted, provided aluminum and vinyl extrusions or other components
are not exposed at the perimeter of doors and windows, base of siding, roof eaves
and corners of house, and the installed siding authentically matches wood clapboard
c. Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) or stucco is disfavored.
Latticework at crawlspaces is prohibited, unless concealed by shrubbery.
a. The slope of the roof for entry porches and additions should approximate
the slope of the existing main roof structure where feasible.
Main roof should
be asphalt, slate, fiberglass or simulated slate shingles made from rubber or
fiberglass to closely approximate the texture of the original Wood Acres shingle
roof. Smaller roofed areas such as entry and side porches and projecting bay windows
should be the same as main roof or copper.
b. All exposed flashings shall be
either pointed into brick or stepped to match the vertical and horizontal mortar
joints of the brick. Copper flashing is favored.
entry steps and walks from driveways and the street built with natural stone and/or
brick are favored.
6. Mechanical & Electrical Equipment
air conditioning, heating and other mechanical units should be located at the
rear or side of the property and be shielded from view from any public way by
use of shrubbery or other vegetation.
b. Electric service, telecommunication
service panels and water meters should be installed in discreet locations on the
side elevations of the house and mounted as low as possible relative to adjacent
grade consistent with prudent utility practices.
c. Radon reduction ventilation
shall be integrated into the addition and vented discreetly to minimize the public
visibility of the system.
d. Permanent floodlights mounted on the house and
directed towards the street or an adjacent lot are disfavored. Pathway lighting
is encouraged in lieu of floodlights.
e. To the extent practicable, satellite
dishes or other similar antennae mounted within the lot, on the house or in view
from the street or any neighbor's lot shall be located and camouflaged to reduce
or eliminate the visual impact that the antennae may have upon the neighborhood.
f. Permanent air conditioning and heating units protruding from walls of the
structure are prohibited.
E. DECKS, PATIOS, TERRACES AND SWIMMING POOLS
Large decks due to their size and height relative to adjacent grade shall be viewed
by the Committee as a permanent structure and designed appropriately as an integral
feature of the house. The applicant should consider appropriate design strategies
to visually harmonize the appearance of the addition to the existing structure
(e.g. use of appropriate exterior finish materials to match those of the existing
house may be preferable in lieu of treated landscape timbers). Use of proportionately
mature shrubbery or trees providing privacy for both the applicant and all neighbors
with a line of sight towards the deck may be required to mitigate the visual impact
of the deck.
2. Patios and terraces on grade should use natural stone or
brick as the patio surface. Patios shall be screened with shrubbery or trees providing
privacy for both the applicant and all neighbors with a line of sight towards
3. Poured-in-place concrete finishes are disfavored for patio
and terrace floors.
4. Latticework at underside of elevated decks is prohibited,
unless concealed by shrubbery.
5. Above-grade swimming pools are prohibited.
1. Concrete (stamped or otherwise), blacktop, brick, and landscape
pavers are favored.
G. TREES AND LANDSCAPING
1. Tree removal
does not require Committee approval. Tree removal and site clearing associated
with new additions requires approval by both neighbors and the Committee. Preservation
of existing trees shall be a positive factor in the Committee's evaluation of
any home improvement. The Application shall identify all trees to be removed,
including specimen, diameter and height for the neighbors and Committees review,
such that the neighbors are well advised of the impact that the removed vegetation
may have on their lot (e.g. increased sunlight, reduced privacy).
drainage pipes extending beyond three feet from house downspouts to the driveway
or street shall be constructed of durable piping material, concealed below grade
and terminated such that no water flows onto adjacent lots.
pipes shall not terminate onto adjacent lots.
4. Regrading of existing site
shall not direct water from a homeowner's property onto an adjacent lot.
A. In General. Due to the size of the Wood Acres' lots,
only one outbuilding (including an existing garage) is allowed.
1. General. Sheds attached to the house are generally preferred
over the free standing sheds referred to in Section VI., C. The design and materials
used in the construction of the shed shall be compatible with the existing house.
2. Location. Sheds shall be placed at the rear of the house and properly screened
by shrubbery. Sheds attached to the sides of the house, which are visible from
the public way are disfavored.
3. Color. The shed shall be painted to match
the trim on the house, unless the shed is constructed of brick or stone.
Size and Design. The Committee recognizes that such factors as zoning setbacks
from lot lines, proximity to an adjacent house, topography, and foliage require
flexibility of size and design. Generally, the smaller the shed, the more likely
the Committee will approve the project.
C. Small Free-Standing Sheds.
Please note sheds are subject to zoning setback requirements. Free-standing sheds
set within a lot should be carefully planned since these structures are highly
visible to adjacent homeowners. Sheds with architectural character are favored
over more utilitarian looking structures.
1. Size and Height Limitations.
The dimensions of these sheds must not exceed reasonable requirements for storage
or greatly exceed the size of sheds in the immediate vicinity of the house.
Location. The shed may not extend closer to the front yard than the rear line
of the house, except on corner lots. Corner lots will be considered on a case-to-case
basis, but in no event shall approval be granted for any shed which would be located
closer to the curb than the front face of the house on the adjoining lot. The
screening of sheds by use of appropriate shrubbery is required and must be outlined
in the Application.
3. Color. Sheds shall be painted to match the trim
on the house or otherwise to blend in with surrounding structures.
Owners shall maintain all sheds to prevent public nuisance and unsightly appearance.
Prefabricated Sheds. The Committee will consider applications for prefabricated
sheds where the shed is finished with wood or a material which provides the appearance
D. Children's Play Structures.
Although temporary play structures
less than 10 feet high are exempt from Covenants approval, the selection of children's
play structures should be carefully planned since these structures are highly
visible to adjacent homeowners. The color of play structures exceeding 10 feet
in height, including canvas tenting, should be selected for compatibility with
vegetation and to blend with the environment.
VII. REPLACEMENT OF EXISTING
Following the occurrence of substantial damage or destruction
to an existing residence by fire or other force majeure event, Applications in
accordance with the Covenants and these Guidelines shall be approved for rebuilding
substantially the same house.
In the event the owner desires to demolish
and rebuild an existing structurally sound house, the owner is required to retain
a licensed architect to prepare the design consistent with the spirit of the original
Wood Acres house plans and in accordance with these Covenants and these Guidelines
for the adjacent neighbor's and Covenants Committee's review.
to the size of Wood Acres lots and the close proximity of houses to each other
within the neighborhood, the design for the new house shall maintain the general
scale and character of the pre-existing house with the understanding that the
overall size of the house may be enlarged in square footage in accordance with
the local zoning ordinance and in accordance with the Covenants and these Guidelines.
Floor-to-floor heights are limited in accordance with these Guidelines and take
precedence over the local zoning ordinance relative to building height. The proposed
design for a house to replace the pre-existing house shall abide by the Covenants
and these Guidelines contained herein. The proposed design for the new house shall
be presented to the Committee with the originally prepared architectural drawings
of the pre-existing house. These original architectural drawings shall be used
as a reference for the Committee relative to evaluation of house location within
lot, floor-to-floor height, overall massing of the new structure, scale and proportion
of doors and windows, slope of roofs and use of building materials.
IF THE FLOOR AREA FOR THE NEW HOUSE EXCEEDS THAT OF THE PREEXISTING HOUSE, THEN
THE APPLICANT SHALL DESIGN THE HOUSE SUCH THAT:
1. The length of the
front elevation shall not exceed the length of the pre-existing house's front
elevation (including the pre-existing front porch) unless setbacks are provided
that visually breaks down the volume of the house.
2. The length of the
side elevation shall not exceed the length of the pre-existing house's side elevation
unless the new elevation is broken down into smaller modules composed of a pair
of pitched roofs to match the width of the pre-existing side elevation and pitched
3. Excessively long side and rear elevations without exterior wall
setbacks between the first and second floors, or such elevations without the use
of dormers and other means of architectural details are disfavored.
floor-to-floor height shall match the pre-existing house's floor-to-floor height.
For lots with garage basements, the basement floor elevation may be set at a lower
elevation than that of the pre-existing basement floor, provided the new basement
floor elevation is higher than the adjacent street elevation. The first floor
elevation of the new house may not be set at a higher elevation than the pre-existing
first floor elevation.
6. The existing lot grading may be revised provided
no drainage is shed onto adjacent lots, and privacy is maintained between the
applicant's lot and all adjacent properties.
B. TO SATISFY THE APPLICATION
REQUIREMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN, THE APPLICANT SHALL SUBMIT COMPLETE ARCHITECTURAL
FLOOR PLANS AND EXTERIOR ELEVATIONS TOGETHER WITH A THREE-DIMENSIONAL PHYSICAL
OR COMPUTER GENERATED MODEL AND/OR RENDERINGS SHOWING ALL ABUTTING EXISTING NEIGHBOR
HOUSES AND SURROUNDING GRADE AND LANDSCAPING FOR THE NEIGHBORS' AND COMMITTEE'S
REVIEW. THE COMMITTEE MAY REQUIRE, DEPENDING UPON THE SCALE OF THE PROPOSED DESIGN,
ADDITIONAL DESIGN DOCUMENTATION TO COMPLETE THE REVIEW OF THE APPLICATION.
Acres Covenants Committee: Revised November, 2004