In early October, 1999 while we were out of town, a letter arrived from our homeowners association. It stated that during an inspection of the canyon behind our house, it was noted that we had not completed our landscape improvements in our rear yard (which can only be seen from the inaccessible canyon behind the house). Since we were past the time allotted to complete the improvements, we had 30 days to submit plans. By the time we returned from our trip and got through all our mail, 2 weeks of this had already passed.
We spent all our free time for the next two weeks scrambling to get a plan together that we could submit. The approval process can take up to 6 weeks. After that, we have 90 days to begin the work, and 120 days to complete it. Within 10 days of completion, we must file a Notice of Completion which will lead to an inspection to ensure diversions were not made from the approved plans.
We turned in the application signed by our neighbors along with the plan on November 4th. At the end of December we received notice that our plan was provisionally approved. The architectural committee needed to know the species of the trees, which we had intentionally left open for flexibility.
At this point, we started getting estimates from landscape contractors. Each evaluated our plan and suggested changes. Finally, we chose one of the contractors. We also researched which specific plants we would like. This consisted of collecting leaf samples and photos of trees we liked and taking those to tree nurseries to identify the species, as well as countless hours of tedious research on the Internet about climate, amount of light, soil type, etc. for each type of plant we considered. When we'd made our decisions, we sought our contractor's opinion about the aesthetic and practical considerations of our choices. We then re-drew the plan incorporating his suggestions. This new plan was different enough from the originally (provisionally) approved plan that we decided to resubmit the entire plan.
Meanwhile, we purchased landscape design software that lets us define the features of the property, add landscape items, and view the results in 3-D.
We sent in the revised plans on Feb. 13, 2000 for the Architectural Review Committee to review at their next meeting in early March. We expected to receive notice of approval (or disapproval) around mid March. We waited and waited, and by late March we wondered if the Committee had actually met in early March or if they were perhaps postponing it to April. In the last few days of March we finally received notice that our revised plans have been approved.
In early April we contacted our landscape contractor and let him know we had the green light to go ahead with the work. He set a start date at April 17 and estimated that it would take only two weeks to complete. When April 17 arrived, the contractor said he would not be able to start until probably April 19. In addition, late on April 17 continuing through April 18 there was a heavy rain storm, so the start of the work had to then be postponed to April 24.
On April 24, the work finally started! It was finished on May 8, just one day later than expected.
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