Here's helpful information if you're ready to renovate or add onto a historic house:
WHAT DID I JUST BUY?
Determine whether your house is in a historic district or is a landmark. You can do this by going to your city’s website. Many times you can find which historic district you are in and whether you house is a local or national landmark.
WHO CAN HELP ME?
There may be interesting information regarding your house in the archives at your local History Center.
YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW.
If your house is in a historic district, most likely any exterior modifications will need to be presented a Preservation Commission for approval. Even simply changing a window will trigger the review process.
ROOM TO GROW?
If you are thinking of adding additional building area to the house or to a garage, you will want to know what the maximum lot coverage is currently and how much you can actually add within your lot based on zoning district. An architect would be helpful with this task.
It would be helpful to have a building inspection service determine whether your place has antiquated wiring or asbestos. Address these issues at an early stage.
Finding the appropriate contractor is also very crucial. One that has had experience working on vintage residences is a must. The difference between the skill set needed for new construction and renovation is huge. If you don’t understand how these houses were built, you can’t know how to restore or renovate them. Also, contractors doing this sort of project have skilled craftsmen to call upon with old-world skills.
IT TAKES HOW LONG?
To design, draft, receive preservation approval, obtain building permits and zoning approval can take several months. Depending on the complexity of the project, bidding the job to several contractors and the construction phase could last from 6 months to a year or more. So even a rather modest project could take at a minimum 9 months from inception to move-in.
DON’T STAND THERE.
Any structural changes to the house will require a permit and a licensed structural engineer’s stamp. Again, using a structural consultant with experience on vintage architecture will be a plus. Consult with a restoration architect for referrals.
IS IT DRAFTY IN HERE?
Mechanical changes are not the Preservation Commission’s concern, but an amateurish renovation of the heating and cooling systems can leave an indelible bruise on the historic interiors. Using a mechanical engineer overseen by your architect can solve these issues.
NAKEDLY BRAZEN PITCH.
If you are contemplating making changes to your historic house, we suggest consulting Paul Janicki Architects for expertise on older homes and the preservation approval process.