I absolutely love historic homes! The charm, the details and all the nooks and crannies make me so happy! I recently did a walk- through of a historic house built in 1895 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house’s history even had a murder story from the early 1920’s! While, it was certainly in need of some repairs, it still maintained its charm with stained glass accents, original flooring and trim details that you just don’t see in newer homes. Purchasing and caring for a historic home is no small undertaking. We have worked with several clients over the years on the refurbishing of their historic homes and have put together some quick facts to help serve as a guide for anyone considering this task
What is the HDC?
First things first. The Charlotte Historic District Commission (HDC) is where you need to start. One of your best resources is the principal planner who will meet with the homeowner and designer before the project is even submitted. Their job is to make sure the homeowner is fully equipped to present their renovation project. The staff at the Historic District Commission is amazing! This process can seem overwhelming but just keep in mind…the HDC staff does this every single day. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. The staff is very approachable and may have solutions you haven’t considered yet for your renovation.
How does my Designer Help Me?
Let’s put it this way…the Charlotte Historic Draft/Design Guidelines document is 135 pages! You will need someone to help document any and all changes to your home. There are general requirements listed for every single element on a historic home. If the homeowner is not replacing some of these elements with something matching in material, size and appearance, then drawings and details of the elements are required. This can be anything from windows and doors to trim and shutters. In addition to the small details, you will need to provide the planning department with documents including the following:
3. Context Photographs
5. Architectural Details and Drawings
How Complex is the Process?
- Meet with a home designer or architect to draft the conceptual drawings.
- Finalize all modifications, architectural details, exterior color palette, drawings and photos.
- Schedule a meeting with someone at the HDC to review your project.
- Go online and upload all the documents to the Accela Citizen Access Portal and pay the fees.
*This must be done according to the scheduled deadline so the planning department has time to review the submitted documents and add the project to their next monthly meeting.
- Wait to be added to the planning department’s monthly meeting schedule.
- Homeowner and designer attend the meeting and present the project.
- The board decides to pass or fail the project and suggests any revisions due to restrictions.
If you plan to demolish any part of the historic home, it will be a separate application. The historic commission “don’t want to change the rhythm of the streetscape” and they consider any demolition as a last resort.
Are there any fees involved?
Yes, fees are required when the homeowner submits their application!
Minor Review $550.00* Additions of any size to structures located on corner lots. * Accessory structures visible from public rights-of-way, such as garages on corner lots.
Major Review $1,030.00* Additions that increase the square footage of the principal structure by 25% or more. * Additions taller or wider than existing structure. * Painting previously unpainted masonry. * New Construction of principal structures.
Major Review with Survey $2105.00* Demolition of primary structures.
While the list of requirements may seem daunting, the HDC does their best to make the process as simple as possible for homeowners. Once the homeowner signs up for the Accela Citizen Access Portal, they can use the system to submit the application, upload plans for review, check due dates and check project status. Keep in mind, this is not a quick process. We suggest planning a year in advance before expecting any construction to start on your home.