Why do it? Being designated as a historic district can result in higher property values and access to grants and financial assistance for maintenance and repairs.

How long could this take? Working up to 20 hours a week, it could take 6 months or more. Be ready for intensive research, paperwork, local government involvement, surveys, and you may want a consultant.

What to research? Neighborhood architecture, be sure it is historic, photograph homes and streetscapes, survey property lines, and contact local and state historic officials and any historic preservation society, city or state groups nearby. Learn about any well known people who lived in the area in the past as well as currently.

Why hire a consultant ($5000-$20,000 or more)? A qualified consultant can do the paperwork, understand architectural terms, determine if properties are historic, usually meaning 50 or more years old. Exceptions could be properties associated with major events.

Suggestion: Contact your town’s state representative to determine boundaries of the historic district you want to create. Local designations may involve a town zoning board vote.

Know this: you may find opposition from neighbors and if so, an individual owner can decline to have their home listed. People may be upset if they cannot change any parts of their homes without a lot of paperwork to get permission.

What are the Designation differences?: Restrictions differ with local, state and national designations, so learn the differences. National designation is the most lenient; state designations tend to follow them. Local designations are the most restrictive and usually are included in municipal preservation ordinances. Restrictions can include colors of paint, additions or how windows and/or roofing are replaced. The National Park Service administers the National Register of Historic Places, which is considered the most prestigious designation. It is honorary and does not limit what owners can do to their homes. National and State designated properties are usually overseen by State Historic Preservation Officers. Most complaints are at the local level, but homes with local AND national designations tend to increase in value more than those with only a national designation, perhaps due to more oversight and more neighborhood involvement.

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