For Your Comment: Wood Siding


Photo: Lilian Rice house with board and batten exterior in downtown Rancho Santa Fe.

The RSFA Board unanimously approved a proposed regulation to go out to public comment regarding wood cladding. It replaces Board resolution 2019-103, which was an attempt to address this issue last year. 

What’s The Problem?

The Protective Covenant states that stone, adobe, concrete and stucco are preferred materials for exterior wall surfaces. By extension this means that wood is not preferred. But this isn’t a prohibition against wood, just that Art Juries should discourage its use. Needless to say, this isn’t a recipe for consistency. And the current Board is on a mission to have more consistent Art Jury decisions, across both current and future Art Juries.

The Regulation

This proposed regulation codifies precisely how wood can be used as an exterior wall surface material. As written, it is hard to understand, and made worse by the fact that there is an obvious drafting error (it has four sections, written such that all four are conditions that must simultaneously be adhered to which is logically impossible). Here is my attempt to break down what I think is the intent of the new regulation.

For remodels, when your house has primarily wood cladding, then you are allowed to use wood cladding for the remodel and/or addition and/or new accessory building as long as the total new square footage is less than 25% of the original house square footage.

If your remodel adds more than 25% in new square footage then both the new and the existing building(s) must have at least 50% preferred exterior cladding material.

And then for new house construction, up to 25% of the house and/or structures can use wood cladding for exterior wall surfaces.

And all of the above only allow board and batten and shiplap applications of wood (so a partially log house, for instance, would be prohibited).

What About Hardie Board?

That resolution, 2019-103, also prohibited the use of cement fiber board (commonly known as Hardie Board, but that’s a particular trademark). The Board appears to be revisiting this. They asked for public comment back in September, and will likely take up the issue again during the next Board meeting.