Thinking about updating your property? Follow these guidelines to complete your project correctly and safely.
Mount Air Conservancy Policy Resolution No. 2: Full Architectural and Grounds Guidelines
In a townhouse development, any change to the exterior of one’s home and their property has a direct effect on neighboring homes as well as on the community as a whole. As homeowners seek to enhance their investments in their homes and community, maintaining compatibility with the integrity and original design of the community is essential. The guidelines are provided in an effort to conserve the natural beauty of the subdivided property, to ensure its best use and most appropriate development, and to prevent the erection of poorly designed or constructed improvement. These guidelines amplify rather than replace the protective and restrictive Covenants of Article VI of the Conservancy Bylaws.
View the home parts pictorial.
a. These guidelines have been reviewed and approved by the Mount Air Conservancy Board of Directors in accordance with the Association’s by-laws.
b. Residents are reminded that the Protective and Restrictive Covenants of Article VI are legally enforceable. The wording, which follows in bold print is quoted from the Covenants for your reference.
ARTICLE VI, SECTION 5. THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE MAY FROM TIME TO TIME ADOPT AND PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS REGARDING THE FORM AND CONTENT OF PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS TO BE SUBMITTED FOR APPROVAL AND MAY PUBLISH AND RECORD SUCH STATEMENTS OF POLICY, STANDARD, GUIDELINES AND ESTABLISH SUCH CRITERIA RELATIVE TO ARCHITECTURAL STYLES OR DETAILS, FENCES, COLORS, SETBACKS, MATERIALS, OR OTHER MATTERS RELATIVE TO ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL AND THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT, AS IT MAY CONSIDER NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE. NO SUCH RULES, REGULATIONS, STATEMENTS, CRITERIA OR THE LIKE SHALL BE CONSTRUED AS A WAIVER OF THE REQUIREMENT OF THIS DECLARATION.
The purpose of these guidelines is to:
a. Establish and enforce standards governing additions/modifications to homes and grounds within the community.
b. Prescribe procedures governing applications for the approval of additions/modifications to homes and grounds within the community.
c. Establish and enforce standards governing the use and general repair/appearance of homes and grounds within the community.
Article VI, SECTION 1. NO BUILDING, FENCE, WALL OR OTHER IMPROVEMENTS OR STRUCTURES SHALL BE COMMENCED, DIRECTED, PLACED, MOVED ALTERED OR MAINTAINED UPON THE PROPERTY , NOR SHALL ANY Exterior ADDITION TO OR CHANGE (INCLUDING ANY CHANGE OF COLOR) OR OTHER ALTERATION THEREUPON BE MADE UNTIL THE COMPLETE PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS SHOWING THE LOCATION, NATURE, SHAPE, HEIGHT, MATERIAL, COLOR, TYPE OF CONSTRUCTIONS AND OTHER PROPOSED FORM OF CHANGE (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY OTHER INFORMATION SPECIFIED BY THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE) SHALL HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO AND APPROVED IN WRITING AS TO SAFETY, HARMONY OF EXTERNAL DESIGN, COLOR AND LOCATION IN RELATION TO SURROUNDING STRUCTURES AND TOPOGRAPHY AND CONFORMITY WITH THE DESIGN CONCEPT FOR THE COMMUNITY BY AN ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE DESIGNATED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
a. All visible alterations and improvements to your home and property must be approved by the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) prior to starting any project. The ACC shall consider only written architectural change requests. Oral requests will not be considered. One copy of the application must be delivered to the Management Agent who will then submit them to the ACC. Written notification will be provided of the ACC’s review (i.e. approval, disapproval or request for additional information).
b. Should a project have been started or completed without the approval of the ACC, it is each homeowner’s responsibility to submit to the ACC a post facto application detailing each of these projects.
c. All changes must conform to the Fairfax County regulations, and a homeowner must have the necessary building permit, zoning verification, and other pertinent documents. In addition, homeowners should contact utility companies to prevent damage to buried utility lines. These should be located prior to construction. Contact Miss Utility at 1-800-257-7777. Some projects will also require that consideration be given to drainage so those neighboring yards are not adversely affected. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to comply with County and State regulations. Approval by the ACC does not relieve the homeowner of this responsibility. Approval by the ACC is related solely to compliance with Mount Air Conservancy Declarations and Rules and Regulations. ACC approval of an addition/modification in no way constitutes approval with regard to state or local building codes.
d. Homeowners will submit, in advance, a written project request, which contains detailed pertinent information on the proposed addition or modification. The request will include:
Street address, lot number and telephone number(s).
Detailed drawing to scale.
Pictures, if available.
Dimensions, including height, width, size, and shape.
Color, if applicable.
materials to be used.
Scheduled start and completion date.
Photographs and/or sketches of similar completed projects in the community, if applicable.
Copy of plat for fences, decks and major landscaping showing proposed location in relation to property boundaries.
e. Any extraordinary request shall be subject to consultation with neighbors who would be immediately affected by the addition or modifications.
ARTICLE VI. SECTION 3. UPON APPROVAL BY THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE OF ANY PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS SUBMITTED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE, A COPY OF SUCH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS, AS APPROVED, SHALL BE DEPOSITED AMONG THE PERMANENT RECORDS OF SUCH COMMITTEE AND A COPY OF SUCH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS BEARING SUCH APPROVAL IN WRITING SHALL BE RETURNED TO THE APPLICANT SUBMITTING THE SAME.
f. The ACC review period, not to exceed thirty (30)days, shall commence upon receipt and entry of the application into the records. The date of entry shall be written on each application. Within the thirty (30) day review period, a homeowner shall be notified, via a returned copy of the application, if the proposed request has been approved, disapproved, or if additional information is required from the homeowner. The application shall be considered disapproved until the additional information is furnished. When the application is resubmitted with the new information, a new thirty (30) day review cycle begins.
ARTICLE VI, SECTION 2. IN THE EVENT THE COMMITTEE FAILS TO APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE ANY PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS WHICH MAY BE SUBMITTED TO IT PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE WITHIN SIXTY (60) DAYS AFTER SUCH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS (AND ALL OTHER MATERIALS AND INFORMATION REQUIRED BY THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE) HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED TO IT IN WRITING, THEIR APPROVAL WILL NOT BE REQUIRED AND THIS ARTICLE WILL BE DEEMED TO HAVE BEEN FULLY COMPLIED WITH.
g. No response from the ACC within sixty (60) days, as specified above, shall constitute approval of the proposed modification.
ARTICLE VI, SECTION 4. CONSTRUCTION OR ALTERATIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS APPROVED BY THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE COMMENCED WITHIN SIX (6) MONTHS FOLLOWING THE DATE UPON WHICH THE SAME ARE APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE (WHETHER BY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION OR BY FORBEARANCE FROM ACTION, AS IN SECTION II OF THIS ARTICLE PROVIDED), AND SHALL BE SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED WITHIN TWELVE (12) MONTHS FOLLOWING THE DATE OF COMMENCEMENT, OR WITHIN SUCH OTHER PERIOD AS THE COMMITTEE SHALL SPECIFY IN ITS APPROVAL. IN THE EVENT CONSTRUCTION IS NOT COMMENCED WITHIN THE PERIOD AFORESAID, THEN APPROVAL OF THE PLANS AND SPECIFICATION BY THE COMMITTEE SHALL BE CONCLUSIVELY DEEMED TO HAVE LAPSED AND COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL AGAIN BE REQUIRED. THERE SHALL BE NO DEVIATION FROM THE PLANS AND SPECIFICATION OR DESIGN APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT IN WRITING OF THE SPECIFICATIONS OR DESIGN SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS A WAIVER OF THE RIGHT OF THE COMMITTEE TO DISAPPROVE SUCH PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS, OR ANY ELEMENTS OF FEATURES THEREOF, IN THE EVENT SUCH PLANS AND SPECIFIC ACTIONS ARE SUBSEQUENTLY SUBMITTED FOR USE IN ANY OTHER INSTANCE.
h. Construction of homeowner’s project shall commence within six (6) months of the ACC approval date and shall be substantially completed within twelve (12) months or within such other period as the ACC designates. Homeowners shall resubmit their plans and specifications to the ACC for approval should construction not commence within the approved period. A new application is required if a homeowner makes any modification to the approved plans and specifications.
ARTICLE VI, SECTION 5. THE DECISIONS OF THE ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE SHALL BE FINAL EXCEPT THAT ANY MEMBER WHO IS AGGRIEVED BY AN ACTION OR FORBEARANCE FROM ACTION BY THE COMMITTEE (OR BY ANY POLICY, STANDARD, OR GUIDELINES ESTABLISHED BY THE COMMITTEE) MAY APPEAL THE DECISION OF DIRECTORS AND, UPON THE REQUEST OF SUCH MEMBER, SHALL BE ENTITLED TO A HEARING BEFORE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE ASSOCIATION.
a. If a project is disapproved, the homeowner is free to request that the ACC reconsider its position. The homeowner should present new or additional information which clarifies the request or demonstrates its acceptability, in the event the ACC and the homeowner cannot come to an agreement on the proposed modification, the homeowner may appeal to the Board of Directors.
b. A variance may be granted in unusual circumstances. A variance is in exception to the specific guidelines in paragraph seven (7) which may be granted due to unusual shape, exceptional topographic conditions, or other extraordinary situations or conditions in connection with a specific piece of property when the literal enforcement of these guidelines would involve practical difficulties and cause undue hardship unnecessary in carrying out the spirit and intent of these guidelines, no variance shall be granted for projects undertaken without prior ACC approval.
c. Enforcement procedures as outlined in paragraph five (5) shall become effective if the homeowner proceeds with a project after notification that the project was disapproved by the ACC.
a. The ACC reserves the right to inspect the modification/addition to ensure compliance with the approved plans.
b. When the ACC becomes aware of a violation of the architectural or grounds guidelines and covenants, the homeowner will be notified in writing and asked to correct the violation within a period of time specified by the ACC.
c. If there is no response to the initial notice, a certified letter, return receipt requested, will be sent to the homeowner requesting correction of the violation within ten (10) calendar days. No response can result in the ACC correcting the violation at the homeowner’s expense or other appropriate legal action.
a. Homeowners may appeal an ACC decision in writing, to the Board of Directors and ask for an appeals hearing. Appeals should be submitted within fifteen (15) days of the initial notice of violation.
b. Both the homeowner and their representative from the ACC must be present at the hearing. Each will submit a written material concerning the disapproved addition or modification from the Board members to review prior to the appeals hearing.
c. A majority vote of the Board of Directors is required to overturn a decision made by the ACC.
d. The Board of Directors will notify the homeowner and the ACC of their final decision in writing
The following is a partial list of the more common changes to home exteriors and the basic requirements for each. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive and is only an example of changes, which must be approved by the ACC. Nothing contained in these guidelines relieves the homeowner from first obtaining specific approval for the project from the ACC as described in paragraph three (3). Also included are guidelines for maintenance of homes and grounds and of common areas.
a) Decks and Patios [ AMENDED – 04-17-2007 ]
- Pressure treated southern yellow pine or other wood that conforms to Fairfax County Code (subject to the approval of the ACC) shall be used for all wood components.
- No painting of wood components is permitted.
- NEW EXTERIOR WOOD PRESERVATIVES/WATERPROOFING COMPOUNDS FOR DECK & PATIOS
Wood Preservatives have several types of finishes and are formulated with Water Repellents and/or Oil Preservatives, UV Stabilizers, Pigments, Colors, Stains and Solids
a) “CLEAR FINISHES” preservative/water sealer finishes are acceptable and do not require ACC approval. These products MAY NOT contain tints, pigments, stains, or coloring. Oil based “clear” finishes are likely to cause a darkening of the wood, especially if it has weathered. This effect is considered to be an inherent tendency of the product and does not constitute a violation of the ACC guidelines.
b) “TINTED, PIGMENTED, AND SEMI-TRANSPARENT FINISHES” Only pigmented color with water repellent sealer and /or oil preservative finishes that show the grain of the wood will be allowed that are of light color (Natural or Cedar Color).
See Approved List by Manufacturer
All other pigmented colors such as redwood, driftwood, etc., are prohibited. Additionally solids and stains are prohibited.
In any and all cases, any tinted, pigmented transparent or semi-transparent finishes for decks still require ACC approval on a case-by-case basis. If you choose a color outside the approved list, you must submit a sample of treated wood with the ACC application, so that the effect of the finish can be assessed. This is required as there are many manufacturers with different formulations and variation of the shades of natural or cedar.
4. Specific deck designs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
5. All construction shall be in compliance with Fairfax County Code.
6. Water runoff problems shall not be created on neighboring lots or common areas.
7. No items shall be suspended from decks for the purpose of storage.
8. Top floor decks will not be approved.
9. Decks above the fence level may be added to the backside of the townhouse only, and for end units, shall not be extended laterally beyond the side face not forward of the back face of the building.
b) Storm Doors/Screens/Security Doors
- Full view designs are recommended.
- Must be of wood, vinyl, or aluminum with white baked enamel finish.
- Security doors with bars are not allowed.
c) Sheds/Storage Units [ AMENDED – 03-17-2009 ]
- Will be considered on a case-by-case basis. NEW- Must complete an Architectural form. NOTE: Must indicate the location of shed within the property.
- NEW- Large “barn style” and “gable style” sheds are prohibited.
- NEW- Maximum Shed Dimensions: 5 ft x 8 ft x 6 ft 7 inches in height. NOTE: Slightly larger sheds will ONLY be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- May not be attached in any manner to a house or fence.
- May not extend above or beyond an existing privacy fence without prior written approval, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Must be weather resistant wood, man-made materials, or metal.
- Woodsheds may not be painted: Painted, or pigmented stains/preservatives will not be used without prior written approval and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Clear water sealer/preservatives are acceptable and do not require ACC approval.
- Water run off from shed roof must fall on shed owner’s property.
- All sheds will be maintained in good condition and repair.
- No items are to be stored on top of sheds.
Read about the specific guidelines for sheds and storage units.
d) Hot Tubs/Jacuzzis
- These items must be installed within the homeowner’s rear fenced lot and be at ground level.
- Installation must meet all applicable County Codes.
- Electrical connections should be made by a licensed electrician.
e) Fences and Gates
- Front yard fences are not permitted.
- Rear yard fences are to match existing fence in design and timber sizes and are not to extend beyond property lines nor further forward than the back face of the townhouse.
- Approved material include pressure treated pine, cedar or redwood; horizontal runners (2×4’s). Hardware will be either galvanized or stainless steel.
- Fence extensions sections must not exceed 6 feet in height.
- No paint, pigmented stain or preservatives may be used. Clear preservative is permitted.
- Gates must be the same as existing design and material installed by builder except for material substitute allowed in paragraph 7. E. 3. Fence and gate must be of the same wood material.
- No chain links or wire fencing is allowed.
- Fences and gates shall be maintained in good repair (i.e., no gates off their hinges, no broken boards, no leaning fences or posts). If vines are permitted to grow on fences, they should be trimmed in such a manner that they do not protrude outside fencing, especially back or side fences exposed to common areas.
- Pressure treated lattice material may be used to extend the bottom of backyard fences to the ground. Chicken wire fencing is not permitted to extend the bottom of backyard fences.
f) Exterior Painting
- Painting or repainting must conform to existing colors and pattern of the house unless a color change has been submitted and approved by the ACC.
- Must be done in a professional manner.
- Masonry, concrete steps, and concrete fences are not to be painted. Only those areas that are painted may be repainted.
- Bay window caps are the homeowner’s responsibility and must be repainted in an approved metallic copper color.
- Only exterior Colonial Williamsburg colors are acceptable for front doors, shutters, and painted trim. Variation in shade shall be considered on a case-by-case basis. Paint color samples should be submitted with an application to the ACC. See Approved Colors
- Iron railings and house numbers shall be repainted in semi-gloss black.
- Paint on the exterior fixtures of the home (i.e.. front doors, garages, shutters, associated trim, handrails, etc.) shall be maintained in a uniform and good repair (with no peeling, chipping or stains).
g) Exterior Maintenance
- Replacement gutters and downspouts shall be the same color as originally installed by the builder.
- It is the responsibility of each homeowner to maintain the exterior portion of his home and property.
- No baby carriages, bicycles, or other articles of personal property shall be deposited, allowed to remain overnight on any lot except on the enclosed rear yard.
- Front or backyards shall not be used as open storage areas.
- Properties shall be kept free of debris, trash, and offensive organic matter.
- Hoses and sprinklers used for watering front lawns and flower beds may be left in the front area of units if stored neatly and unobtrusively. Use of hose rack and retractable hoses are encouraged.
h) Antenna/Satellite Dish
- No outside antenna, satellite dish or similar device shall be permitted. (This has been superseded by Policy Resolution No. 5)
- Major landscaping work and plantings require the approval of the ACC. Major landscaping is considered to be anything that would change the character of the yard from its original (i.e. increasing mulched area, adding or removing shrubs or trees).
- Lawns shall be a uniform ground cover of green grass and present an acceptable appearance.
- Trees, shrubs, lawns, hedges, vines, and ground cover shall be planted so that they will not interfere with or protrude in any manner on a neighbor’s property. Shrubs or other plants that form barriers between individual properties or common areas are not permitted.
- Dead shrubs and trees on private property should be removed and replaced with similar sized shrubs or trees. Shrubs and trees shall not be removed from common grounds.
- Landscape materials:
a) Gravel style stones shall not be used outside fenced backyards.
b) Front yard edging or border material shall be pressure treated wood, red clay or white clay solid rectangular bricks which must be properly installed and maintained.
c) No sculptures, fountains or ornamentals are permitted outside fenced backyards. This does not preclude the display of seasonal decorations.
6. Vegetable gardens are not permitted outside of fenced backyards.
7. NOTHING SHALL BE PLANTED ON OR REMOVED FROM COMMON GROUNDS WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
j) Roof Exhaust Units/Attic Fans
- Mechanical or Electromechanical roof/attic exhaust devices shall be installed on the rear of the roof, below the crown, so they are not visible from the front of the house. Replacement ridge vents will be similar to those originally installed by the developer.
- Exhaust devices and their installation must conform to current national and local codes. Electrical wiring will generally require a permit from Fairfax County; therefore any installation should be performed by a licensed contractor.
- Applications submitted for approval must include a drawing showing location of exhaust device and a brochure of other detailed description of exhaust device.
- No poles, towers or wires for the transmission or reception of electrical, telephone, or radio messages and the like shall be installed.
- No permanent poles, ropes or wire structures for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry shall be placed or maintained in yards or on decks. Temporary lines shall be permitted below fence lines.
l) Shutter/ Window/Screens
- All exterior windows, shutters, and screens shall be the same style; size and color as originally installed by the builder.
- The aluminum frames of the windows and screens shall have a white, baked enamel finished.
- Polar windows (similar to the style of existing windows) and atrium doors may be approved as upgrades to existing window and patio doors on the back side only.
- Bars on ground level window only are allowed.
m) Chimneys/Woodstoves/New Fireplaces
- Detailed drawings must be submitted to the ACC for approval.
- All fireplaces and woodstove flues must be covered to match the existing outside wall of the townhouse unit.
- Installation of woodstoves, inserts and new fireplaces must comply with state and local fire safety regulations.
n) Playground Equipment
- Exterior playground equipment may only be placed in the rear yard and may not extend above the fence or onto a common property without prior approval of the ACC.
- No property shall be used or maintained as a dumping ground for rubbish.
- Garbage or other waste shall be kept in covered sanitary containers or heavy-duty trash bags within rear yards. Neither trash containers nor recycling containers are to be kept in front of side yards.
- Garbage containers should be placed on front curb no earlier than the night before pickup (after daylight hours). Containers should be removed the same day as pickup.
p) Vehicle Repair
- Automotive repair and extraordinary maintenance work shall not be performed on Mt. Air Common grounds. This includes parking areas or grassy areas. Minor repairs (flat tire, dead battery) which can be completed within 24 hours are permitted (See Policy Resolution No. 3; Parking and Towing for additional information).
- Residents in violation of any of these rules are subject to having their vehicle towed at their own expense and risk. In addition, residents will be billed for any grounds repair costs resulting from vehicle repair work.
- Awnings are not permitted.
- Approval is required for ornamental trees, hanging planters, flower boxes, or other decorative additions located on the exterior of the house. Approval for these items shall be granted if they are determined to conform to the overall architectural harmony and appearance of the community.
- Exterior lighting shall not be directed in such a manner as to create annoyance to neighboring units. A location plan must be submitted to the ACC for approval. No additional exterior lighting in the front yard is permitted without ACC approval. Additional lighting in the backyard requires approval if it is visible above the fence.
- Motorized vehicles or sleds with runners are not allowed on grassy common areas.
- Building materials or wood for fireplaces as well as all other private property must be stored within the fenced enclosure of each homeowner’s lot, below the fence line, and stacked neatly in an area not visible from public streets or sidewalks. Chopping of wood should only be done within the homeowner’s enclosed backyard.
- Occupants shall not install newspaper or mailboxes.
- Damage to common areas caused by a homeowner’s action will be repaired at the homeowner’s expense.
- Holiday decorations and lights must be removed within two (2) calendar weeks after the holiday. The decorations shall not extend into a neighbor’s property or common ground.
- All signs must be temporary; no more than one sign is permitted per property. No sign of any kind exceeding six square foot area shall be displayed for public view on any lot, except for one temporary advertising the lot for sale or rent. The latter will be removed immediately upon sale or rental of the advertised townhouse. Real estate signs at the entrance to the Village of Mount Air are only allowed on weekends. Other signs require grounds committee approval.
- Electronic insect traps shall be regulated based on the same criteria as for exterior lighting. No device shall be installed or maintained in such a way as to cause discomfort to adjacent owners from noise, and may only be operated during those times when the immediate area protected by the trap is occupied by the owner or his/her guests.
- Replacement of roofing material shall be roofing shingles only of similar size, weight and color of that originally installed by the builder.