Many homeowner associations (HOAs), builders, developers, and property managers in residential communities believe that enhancing the appearance of the entrance can boost residents’ pride and greatly improve the overall look of the community. In this guide, we’ll take you through the steps of buying a new entrance sign for your neighborhood, whether it’s a new community or a replacement for an existing sign. This guide aims to help you avoid common mistakes in the process. Let’s begin!
Step 1: Set a Project Coordinator for Your Community Sign
Now that you’ve decided to proceed with a new entrance sign or a replacement, start by:
- Designating a point person from your HOA board or community to handle the research, pricing, and design options.
- Share these options with a committee or the board for their input.
In my experience as a sign manufacturing professional, having a dedicated liaison person streamlines communication between the board and myself. This ensures quick and efficient design updates and submissions.
Step 2: Define the Project Details for Your Neighborhood Signs
In this step, you’ll lay out the specific details of your community entrance sign project, which are vital for obtaining price quotes and ensuring a successful outcome. There are several key aspects to consider when outlining the scope of your entrance monument sign:
- Branding and Messages: Think about what represents your community, such as the neighborhood name, logo, or relevant images. Additionally, consider including messages like “no soliciting,” “private community,” or “children at play” to convey important information on the sign at your neighborhood entrance.
- Landscape Space: If you plan to place the new sign within a landscaped area, measure the available space and contemplate any landscaping changes, like adding bushes or rocks, that may affect the sign’s installation location.
- Quantity of Signs: Determine how many entrance signs you’ll need to cover all the entry roads to your neighborhood or residential community. If you have multiple neighborhoods, make a list specifying the quantity required for each section. Consider if any areas require wayfinding signs in addition to the entrance sign.
- Installation: Decide who will install the sign. While hiring a local sign contractor is typically the best choice for custom signage, you may opt for a DIY team from the community to save time and money. Ensure that the sign manufacturer provides assembly guides for your review before ordering.
- Sign Types: Explore various design options by creating a collection of preferred sign designs using online searches. Select styles that align with your community’s aesthetics and enhance curb appeal.
- Sign Lighting: Consider whether you need lighting for your sign to remain visible after dark. Options include solar or electrical ground lighting, which can usually be coordinated through the sign installation contractor.
- Single or Double-Sided: Determine whether the sign should be single-sided (viewed from one side only) or double-sided (visible from both directions) based on its orientation and position in the landscape.
- Sign Size: Determine the appropriate size for the sign that fits within the designated space.
- Local Compliance: Check if you need permits to comply with local regulations. Professional sign installers can often handle permitting, but for DIY projects, you’ll need to navigate the necessary bureaucratic processes yourself.
- Final Approval: Find out if the final sign design requires review and approval by the local municipality to prevent delays after installation. This proactive approach will help ensure a smooth process for your neighborhood sign project.
Step 3: Requesting Quotations
When it comes to a project of this size, it’s typical for most organizations to seek 2-3 competitive price quotes. You can usually expect to receive these quotations within 2-3 business days from the date of your request. As you compare the pricing, it’s crucial to take into account the differences in product types. For instance, if the designs vary, try to pinpoint what specific features or specifications are driving the main price differences. Are the products being quoted identical or distinct? Keep in mind that one vendor might use high-quality materials, while another may opt for thinner aluminum or lower-quality paint. Additionally, consider factors like the manufacturer’s lead time, shipping costs, and the warranty they offer.
At this stage, it’s also a good idea to request a physical sample. You can ask for things like a printed vinyl swatch, a piece of powder-coated metal, or a product catalog from the manufacturer for your board or committee to review. This hands-on approach allows you to directly compare the quality of the custom metal street signs you’re considering, helping you make a more informed decision.
Step 4: Establish a Project Budget
After obtaining the price quotes, it’s time to create a budget for your community entrance sign project. Use the quotes as a foundation to determine both the anticipated minimum and maximum potential costs for the project. This budgeting step will help you manage your finances effectively and make informed decisions moving forward.
Step 5: Developing Concept Drawings
In this step, you’ll collaborate with the sign manufacturer to create concept drawings for your project. Most sign manufacturers have dedicated design departments that can provide these drawings, often as part of the proposal process. It’s usually free of charge, but it’s a good practice to confirm whether there are any associated costs before requesting the drawings. This phase is an exciting one as it brings your ideas to life on paper. Here are key considerations for designing monument signs:
- Size: Determine the dimensions of the final monument sign, including its length, width, and overall height.
- Shape: Choose a shape that suits your vision, such as rectangular, scalloped, oval, or bell-shaped.
- Color Scheme: Select colors that best represent your neighborhood, with an eye on complementing house trim colors to create a harmonious first impression at the entrance of your subdivision.
- Mounting/Display: Decide how the sign will be supported, whether through decorative posts, a brick or stone monument wall, or another method.
- Substrate: Consider whether the sign will have a dimensional or flat design and choose the material accordingly. Options may include metal, plastic, or wood.
- Logo or Emblem: Personalize the sign with your neighborhood’s emblem, logo, insignia, or seal. This branding element fosters pride among residents and leaves a positive impression on visitors, reinforcing your neighborhood’s identity.
- Optional Information or Text: Think about any additional information or text you’d like to include, such as changeable messages, specific words like “clubhouse,” “office,” “private community,” or “no soliciting.” These elements can enhance the sign’s functionality and communication.
Step 6: Making the Decision
Choosing the final design and awarding a contract to the manufacturer may take time, depending on your committee’s size. It often requires a unanimous vote. Carefully review each quote, considering all factors mentioned earlier and your overall impression of the companies providing quotes. Once you’ve decided, the hard part is done, and your vision is one step closer to reality.
Step 7: Receiving and Inspecting Shipment
Manufacturer lead times can vary from 2 to 12 weeks based on market conditions. When your package arrives, inspect the materials promptly and report any damage to the shipper or carrier.
Step 8: Scheduling and Completing Installation
Contact the sign installer to schedule installation. Ensure permits are displayed, and approved drawings are ready.
Step 9: Final Inspection
After installation, when the HOA board is satisfied, contact the local municipal inspector for a final inspection and permit completion.
No matter your community’s size, a new entrance sign can quickly enhance curb appeal and leave a lasting impression. I hope this guide makes the process feel less daunting and more successful for you!