As I mentioned in my column last month, there are exterior maintenance inspections for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and live/works on Main Street scheduled to begin in January. Homeowners will receive letters announcing the start of the inspections in late December and in the case of condominiums, the association managers and the Presidents of the associations were notified rather than the individual homeowners.
Some background for new homeowners, the Kentlands employs an independent contractor who specializes in exterior inspections for community associations and they inspect the community every other year or every third year. These inspections are not to be confused with a home inspection you might have when you purchase a home. This inspection is geared towards identifying maintenance issues to ensure compliance with the architectural design standards for the community.
The inspections are conducted from public spaces; the inspectors will not go onto private property. The inspectors will be identifiable with vests and will be taking pictures of all structures. Please do not presume your house has an issue because it is being photographed because the pictures are to serve as a snapshot in time of what a particular house looked like at the time of the inspection. The inspectors are not decision makers as to whether or not your home has a maintenance issue, they only gather and record the information for others at Community Inspection Services (CIS), our contractor. So please do not approach them to ask if your home has a violation.
The initial inspections are expected to last two months. The contract inspectors will pass their observations to CIS officials who will determine if the maintenance issues violate the Kentlands code, and contact the homeowners/residents via letter to explain the repairs that need to be made to bring the particular home back into compliance.
If you receive a letter that your home is in need of maintenance in order to bring it into compliance with the community standards, please follow the instructions in the letter. You will be communicating with CIS, not with Clubhouse staff. Unlike at other times when you may get a notice from staff about a reported violation, CIS is not authorized to offer extensions for repairs nor can they set aside any previous findings. If you are unable to complete the repairs or disagree with the findings, please let the process play out, as you will have a chance at the end of the process to then communicate with the Board of Code Compliance (BOCC), the committee that can authorize extensions or overturn any findings by CIS.
After the initial inspections, CIS will then re-inspect any homes that received an initial letter and send a second letter to those homeowners whose homes have not been brought into compliance. After a stated time frame, CIS will perform one final inspection at which time they will relay to the BOCC a list of homes still found to be non-compliant. It is at this time that you will be contacted by José Palacios, Assistant Manager, on behalf of the BOCC and will be invited to a hearing to discuss your individual issue. At that hearing you will have an opportunity to ask the BOCC for an extension of time to perform the needed repairs or explain why you don’t think the repairs are necessary. The BOCC is the decision maker in this process, not CIS.
Most of us purchase our homes based on certain criteria and the aesthetics of the home and community usually factor into our decision. While management staff and the BOCC address covenant violations all year, every year, having an independent inspection of every property every couple of years has value in that every address is being evaluated and it sets aside the “complaint-driven” nature of the process. I hope homeowners will appreciate that a well-maintained home is probably the single most important factor in determining its property value and view the inspections as an additional tool in their tool chest to help them achieve the highest possible value.