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NWGHA Design Guidelines

Compatibility Key to Successful Home Projects

From its inception over 15 years ago, the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Association has opposed excessively large and poorly designed home projects that detract from neighboring properties. We believe home improvements should be compatible with the surrounding community.


Both the Glendale City Code and Single-Family Neighborhood Guidelines state that neighborhood compatibility is a major factor to be considered by the Design Review Board (DRB) in determining whether a home improvement project should be approved. Both documents explain that size, mass or bulk, site planning, setbacks, architectural design, and appearance all contribute to compatibility.


Under the City Code, DRB has authority to impose conditions or reject a project if this is necessary to achieve compatibility even though the project meets Code standards. This gives DRB significant latitude in deciding how to achieve compatibility. It can also create uncertainty among architects, builders, and homeowners who no longer can be assured their project will be approved just because it complies with the Code.


How the Association Views Compatibility

Because the Code and Neighborhood Guidelines define compatibility in mostly subjective terms, the decision whether a project is compatible often requires evaluating several different factors which contribute to compatibility. Following are those factors the Association considers most important in determining project compatibility.


• Size---The total square footage and floor area ratio of the subject home after improvements should not be significantly larger than the neighborhood averages. Huge additions or remodels resulting in a home twice the size of nearby properties can raise legitimate compatibility issues. Covered decks and balconies are not included in the floor area ratio calculation, although they contribute to the overall size of a home and can make it appear too large. Adding a second story to a home can create a problem if most other homes on the blocks are single story.


• Mass---Remodeling and additions should not make the home appear more massive and bulky than neighboring properties. Second floor additions should be stepped back from the first story and incorporate other articulation techniques to reduce massing. High retaining and foundation walls, steep roofs, poorly designed façades, and improper location of doors and windows can all contribute to the feeling of massiveness and should be minimized.


• Site Planning---The total area occupied by a home, the garage, and any auxiliary buildings should result in a lot coverage ratio roughly in line with the neighborhood average. The location of the garage should be consistent with other properties on the block. Remodels or additions should make effective use of available lot area so they complement other existing structures on the lot and don’t create an eyesore for adjacent properties. Landscaping should enhance the appearance of the project site and overall streetscape.


• Setbacks---The proposed project should be consistent with the prevailing and uniform front setback of other homes on the block. A project should also avoid creating smaller side setbacks than those that exist between other nearby properties. 


• Architectural Design---Major design elements, such as roof lines, entranceways, style of windows and doors, and use of materials should be consistent with the type of architecture intended for the project. The addition or remodel should complement the existing house, and its overall design should be sensitive to the visual appearance and character of the surrounding neighborhood.

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