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What to Check When Renovating a Historic Home

Are you renovating a historic home? Many consumers don’t realize that owning a historic house has a downside. Any renovations and modifications that are done to the property must get approval from the city where the home is located regardless of which registry the house is included on.

Most historic homes are over 50 years old, but keep in mind that an old house isn’t necessarily a historic house. The National Park Service manages the National Registry of Historic Places. This is the official list that makes a home historic, rather than just old. Homes are placed or registered on this list due to age, architectural style, and/or overall significance. In some cases, entire neighborhoods have been designated as historic, and all the properties within are subject to certain restrictions.

Local Laws for a Historic Home

Laws governing the maintenance and restoration of historic homes are at the local level. Some of these rules and regulations are quite restrictive, and owning a historic house can often be a frustrating and expensive experience. It’s impossible to detail every rule/regulation. The final word on what can/can’t be done lies within your specific locality’s rules governing historic homes.

Start by contacting the city where you live. Be aware that if it appears on multiple registries, there may be multiple sets of rules to conform to. If you’re going to live in the home, it also must be brought up to code once work begins. This occurs as part of the permitting process.

Permits

Any modifications to a historic home will likely require permits. Most of the local rules/restrictions revolve around maintaining the aesthetics of the exterior of the home, sometimes even down to the type of landscaping that can be installed. Your city’s development office will be able to provide you with the guidelines and permitting process.

You should be prepared for some of your permit requests to be denied by the city. Understand that you don’t have control over what your house will ultimately look like; in fact, the governing authority has the final word. This means that any additions, changes to architectural style, color palette, and all exterior details will have to conform to current guidelines.

What Kinds of Renovations Are Allowed?

In general, interior renovations that do not impact the exterior appearance of the home may be allowed. It is still best to check with the city before proceeding with your project. Contact Steele Restoration, your local Charlotte roofing contractor for more information about renovating your historic home.