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Home Improvement Grants for Historic District Homes

by Curvin Leatham

A historic district is an area that is preserved due to the historic or aesthetic concentration of buildings, objects, structures or sites. Home improvement grants can help maintain the homes within a historic district by providing financial capital to conduct repairs. Eligible uses of funds for a home improvement grant generally includes structural work, exterior repairs, doors, roofs, porches, front steps and rehabilitation. Historic home improvement grants generally cannot be used for plumbing, heating, air conditioning, solar panels and new additions.

Historic District Designation

The historic district designation is presented by the local historic or heritage preservation office. If your community has received this designation, your district has met all the criteria of the local preservation office and is subsequently listed in the national register of historic places. As a homeowner, if you are considering making any adjustments to the exterior of your home, your changes must be approved by the local preservation office before you move forward. If your home was recently designated as a historic district, there isn't an immediate need to make any enhancements or repairs. However, if you have neglected to repair your property that is in need of maintenance -- "demolition by neglect" -- the local government has the right to intervene.

Historic Grant Program

In order to qualify for the historic district home improvement grant, the homeowner has to complete and submit an application to the local planning department with a description of the scope of work, photo of the property and potentially a historic grant program agreement. After the homeowner submits the application, the Historic Preservation Board will access the impact of the improvement and the value the project will provide in terms of advancement of the city's historic preservation goals.

Types of Grant Programs

The amount of the grant may vary based on the city and program. Some cities offer a 50 percent match which essentially means that the local government will cover half of the repair cost. The homeowner generally does not have to repay the grant if the general requirements are met. In other cases, the local government will cover the cost of the repairs up to a certain amount once the application has been accepted.

Value of Living in a Historic District

Some studies have shown that homes situated in historic districts increase in value faster than non-district homes. The designation brings recognition to the neighborhood and maintains property value. In addition to the economic benefit, a historic district does not pay higher taxes than non historic districts because the government does not consider whether a building is located in a historic district when assessing a building or home. To learn more about historic districts and historic district grant programs in your city, contact your local planning office or preservation department for more information.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Curvin Leatham has been writing real estate related articles since 2010. Curvin graduated from Georgetown University with a Master's degree in real estate finance and development. He has experience working with multi-family housing development projects and commercial properties.

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