National Register of Historic Homes

3 Replies

Does anyone have any experience with rehabbing properties that are on the National Register of Historic Homes? Are there guidelines as to what you can and can't do as far as upgrading/remodeling/fixing such a property?

Hi Lisa, yes and it can be an extreme pain.

You'll usually have a local historic preservation association, hopefully there will be an executive director that you might work with who has the authority to make decisions, otherwise they may dictate by committee, a horrible way to get exceptions or approvals.

Being on the national register means restrictions to repairs and improvements must be like the original or as near as the same as possible. Who actually oversees that have some fudge factor but you won't be ripping out moldings and replacing it stuff from Lowes. One building the paint had to be custom made to match the original that was used, even though the entire surface was being repainted.

Now, you can have land registered and not an improvement, such as a historic site, Ben Franklin once spit here, and there may not be a restriction to improvements as they may have been built after the fact.

The due diligence is why is it on the register, what is included, what organization had it placed on the register, who are they, what are their requirements or standards, how do they approve work and what continued oversight will they have from then on?

One building here had to get craftsmen from Cali come in because they were the only plaster craftsmen that would do the work and who would be approved! Very expensive, what was expected to be about 800K I believe is just over 2M to complete.

A home may be much different, sometimes the restrictions will only apply to the exterior, it depends on the organization or jurisdiction authority. I can tell you 3 inch lap siding will probably be made to match.

I had one house, exterior was dictated but they wanted the whole house to remain as original as possible, it was turned into commercial so obviously changes were required.

Absolutely not for a new investor to get into, financing will be tougher as well. Banks are gun shy of historic renovations and for good reason!

If you're interested in learning more, the largest organization I know of is SOHO, a San Diego group, you can google them, they put out a nice magazine on rehabilitations of historic places. :)

As @Bill Gulley mentioned, there is a lot of additional red tape. In my experience, the guidelines are mainly around exterior (meaning you can't put up vinyl siding or aluminum gutters or vinyl windows, etc). These types of rehabs are much more complex, but you may also be able to qualify for historic rehab tax credits which may make the added work and red tape worth your while.

@Bill Gulley and @Michael Siekerka

Thank you both for the information. The property I was looking into is a house. I'm now rethinking the idea or acquiring to flip. Sounds like there are a lot of things to consider before pursuing this type of property.

Again, thank you for your comments.

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