Moss Building & Design Takes Us Step-By-Step Through the Reston Association’s Design Review Board Process

It’s finally spring and many of us are sprucing up our yards and planning to tackle home projects. Well, before you demo anything, you may want to read this article, for Reston is a very special place… For instance, do you know you need design approval from the Reston Association’s Design Review Board before you alter the exterior of your home? We didn’t and our first landscaping project caused us a ton of stress.

For that very reason, we asked our friends over at Moss Building and Design to provide us with a basic primer for navigating the Design Review Process. Moss has years of experience going through the steps with their Reston clients.


You may be surprised at what you can and cannot change on the exterior of your home.

The following was submitted by Haley Johnson of Moss Building and Design.

Many homeowners express concerns about dealing with the Reston Association’s Design Review Board (DRB), which can be a daunting process for those who don’t know how it works. In this article we’ll outline the guidelines for Reston homeowners hoping to renovate their home and offer tips on how to make it a seamless process.

The purpose of the Design Review.
Some homeowners may not realize what is involved in the remodeling process in Reston, but the design covenants are included in the Reston Deed of Dedication. Each property owner agrees to these covenants when purchasing a home in Reston. The objectives of the Reston Association’s Design Review process as stated on their website are:

  • To promote those qualities in the environment which bring value to the property.
  • To foster the attractiveness and functional utility of the community as a place to live, including a harmonious relationship among structures, vegetation, and topography.

These two objectives can loosely be translated to:

  • Keep the property valuable
  • Keep the community attractive and consistent

To dive into how to smoothly navigate the design review process, we spoke with MOSS Sales Consultant, Lewis Register. Lewis works specifically in the Reston region and has helped MOSS customers through the design approval process many times. He tells us that the DRB is mainly focused on exterior renovations, most interior remodels do not need to be submitted. Lewis recommends that homeowners do their research before committing to a design. The DRB offers many basic and pre-approved selections from siding to lighting, to fence styles.

Each cluster also has its own set of design standards you’ll need to adhere to. Simply visit your cluster’s website to find your particular design standards. Sticking to these lists of approved selections will make the process much smoother.


Doors in Hickory Cluster may only be painted in approved colors.

The Design Review Process.
You should think of the process in 3 separate parts.

1. Do your Research. Talk with your Property Advisor and browse the many pre-approved selections that you can find on your cluster’s website. Find your cluster’s website here. Choosing from these guides will save yourself some time and energy when going through the process.

2. Put together your application. While some exterior changes can be made without an application, most renovations will need to be reviewed. If you are unsure whether you need to submit an application for your project call 703-435-6530 to talk to an RA Covenant Advisor.

Be aware that neighbors will also need to provide signatures stating they are aware of and approve your project.

If your plan is more complex (for example, an addition or new deck) MOSS will be able to provide concept drawings and plans to submit in the application. MOSS makes it a point to help customers through the entire Design Review process. Having people on staff (like Lewis) who have been navigating the DRB for many years makes it a stress-free experience.

3. Present your project. After you submit your application package, it will either be approved outright, or you will be asked to present to the Design Review Board. There is no way to predict which projects or applications will be asked to present to the board. However, if you’ve done your research, chosen from the pre-approved selections that you can access online, and submitted an application that is complete and clear with the help of your contractor, presenting should be stress-free.


If you are nervous about presenting to the board, your MOSS Sales Consultant can attend the presentation with you to clarify any remodeling or contractor questions the board may have. Typically, the DRB is harder on commercial than residential projects, and the presentation will just be used to clarify certain questions the board members came across when reviewing your application. Overall, the seemingly daunting process can be a positive experience. If you have any questions about the DRB you can visit their website or contact your Property Advisor. If you are wondering how you can work with MOSS to renovate your Reston home, give us a call at 703-961-7707.


There is only one approved fence style for Washington Plaza Cluster.


Resources for Reston Homeowners

Website: Design Review Board

Find your cluster: Clusters Directory

Talk to a Property Advisor: [email protected] 703-435-6530

Moss Building and Design: 703-961-7707


Thanks so much to Haley and the team at Moss Building and Design for giving us this handy-dandy guide. Hopefully, your next project will be a breeze. And remember, Modern Reston loves to showcase home renovations and before and afters!

Not included above are the consequences for not following this process. Violations will be reported in future Disclosure Documents related to the sale of Reston property. And if the violation is not corrected, a Notice of Claimed Violation of Use of Property Covenant can be filed in the Fairfax County Land records. In addition violations can be referred to the Legal Committee of the Reston Association for further action that can include filing suit against the owner.

Scary stuff!


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  • mlbjunkee

    Reston’s DRB process is pretty straightforward, however some Clusters make it difficult to do much of anything.