Considering a Historic Home in Wake Forest NC? Become Familiar With a COA!

So you’ve just purchased that historic home in Wake Forest NC that you have always dreamed about or maybe you already own a historic home in Wake Forest NC – either way, a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is something that you should be familiar with.

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?  A Certificate of Appropriateness is a permit that allows you physically alter exterior surfaces and areas within a Historic District.  A COA will most likely be issued when it has been determined that the proposed improvements conform with the overall historic character of the District.  You must obtain a COA PRIOR TO any work beginning.  A COA will have specific quidelines set forth to determine how the work will be done as well as set parameters to operate within.

For instance,  you want to paint your white historic home in Wake Forest NC a different color that perhaps you think will evoke a more Victorian “feel”.  Before you can do so you must apply for and receive a Certificate of Appropriateness.  Should you want to paint your home the SAME color then you would not need a COA.  (Always better to be safe though and call your local Historic Preservation Committee)

Some additional examples of what MAY not need a COA are:

  • Interior renovations or remodels that do not affect the exterior of the home.
  • Planting of shrubs, flower, trees

What is most important though are the types of work that DO need a Certificate of Appropriateness.  Here are a few examples:

  • Moving of a structure
  • Demolition of a structure
  • Conversion to handicap accessible
  • Fences, pools, tennis courts
  • ANY change to the roof line of the structure
  • any addition of an outlying building such as a shed or garage

Keep in mind that even if the scope of your future project does not entail a Building Permit you still need a Certificate of Appropriateness.

Again, for any specific questions regarding your City or Town it would be best to contact your Historic Preservation Committee.

While purchasing and owning a historic home is a wonderful achievement and a life long dream for many – it is best to remember that historic homeownership can be drastically different from that of non-historic homeownership.  Due to the delicate nature of these properties and their significant contribution to history they have to be handled with care which is why there are so many safeguards in place to ensure that they continue their legacy.

If you are currently searching for historic homes in Wake Forest NC please let me know!  There are quite a few currently listed and I would be happy to share their history with you.  You can reach me at 919.649.6128 or simply send me an email!  To discover more that Wake Forest NC has to offer you can visit:

Life in Wake Forest NC

Discover Wake Forest NC

Wake Forest House Chick

 

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Terms To Know When Dealing With Historic Properties

If you are interested in historic properties there are a few terms that you should familiarize yourself with.  A few of the words may sound similar and it can get somewhat confusing.  Here is a sampling of terms that you should become familar with when delving into the world of historic properties:

  • Rehabilitate:  To repair a structure and make it usable again while preserving those portions or features of the property that are historically and culturally significant.  For example, rehabilitation might include an updated kitchen while retaining the historic stairwell and fireplaces.  Most common approach for private houses.
  • Restore:  To return a building to its form and condition as represented by a specified period of time using materials that are as similar as possible to the original materials.
  • Stabilize:  To protect a building from deterioration by making it structurally secure, while maintaining its current form.
  • Renovate:  To repair a structure and make it usable again, without attempting to restore its historic appearance or duplicate original construction methods or material.
  • Preserve:  To maintain a structure’s existing form through careful maintenance and repair.
  • Reconstruct:  To re-create an historic building that has been damaged or destroyed; to erect a new structure resembling the old using historical, archaeological, architectural documents.
  • Remodel:  To change a building without regard to its distinctive features or style.  Often involves changing the appearance of a structure by removing or covering original details and substituting new materials and forms.

For more information regarding historic properties be sure to visit The National Trust for Historic Preservation where the above glossary can be found.  For information regarding Historic Properties in Wake Forest NC please feel free to give me a call or send me an email – I’d be happy to show you what Wake Forest NC has to offer!

If you are interested in Wake Forest NC events, homes for sale, area information, etc please be sure to check out Life in Wake Forest NC

Inspectors and Architects for Historic Homes

Glen Royall Mill

Glen Royall Mill

When purchasing a historic property, whether commercial or residential, it is important to seek out those that are well versed in the nuances of Historic Properties.

For instance, when the time comes to have your Historic Property inspected you will need to find an inspector that is familiar with the all the variations and uniqueness that is present.  A historic property present a set of issues that will need specialized attentionDifferent materials were used when the property was built, different designs were present at the time, and building methods were different.  If would be confusing to have an inspector NOT acquainted with those details have a report full of issues simply because they didn’t know better.

Architects are another resource that you will most likely need to utilize.  Again, it is imperative that seek out architects that specialize in historic properties.  While there are fabulous and well-established architects out there you want to find the ones that know code specific to historic properties.  They need to know the intimate details of the materials that were used and what is available in the present day that will adhere to the guidelines set forth for restoring and altering the property.

The task is not easy to discover these specialists but there are resources that can help!  A few avenues to explore which I highly recommend are:

  • Does your city or town have a Historic Preservation Committee or Advisory Board?  Most likely they do.  I would call them and ask for recommendations.  This Committed/Advisory Board should also have Guidelines available (may or may not have a fee associated) by which you must abide.  These will be vital for the architect to ensure that they know the parameters with which they can operate within.  This could potentially avoid costly mistakes for you, the owner!  While it is the architects duty to provide you with drawings and contract out the work it is ultimately the property owners resposibility to ensure that the guidelines are being adhered to.  Likewise, you local Historic Preservation Committee/Advisory Board may have suggestions for Property Inspectors. 
  • Another great resource is your SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office).  There is a wide variety of positions within the SHPO such as Administration, Restoration Branch, Environmental Review Branch, Survey and Planning Branch.  I would suggest that you explore the Restoration Branch and seek out a professional that could possibly be titled “Restoration Specialist”.  This is their field!  They will have much information to share and should be able to provide you with ample information.
  • Speaking specifically of Architects you can visit AIA (The American Institute of Architects).  They have a fabulous feature that allows you to search specifically for architects that specialize in Historic Preservation.  Be cautious when using this tool.  While the architect may include that on their submission to the AIA it may not be a field that they do much in.  Conversely, I have found architects that do not list that as a service yet do specialize in historic preservation.

Another important element is to ASK FOR REFERENCES.  You are well within your rights to ask an inspector what other properties they have inspected that were historic and ask for references.  Ask to see an Architects portfolio.  If they are well versed in historic restoration/preservation they will have no problems with showing you their work.  Don’t forget to ask them for references!

Good luck with your project!  If you are in the Wake Forest or Raleigh area and need assistance please do not hesitate to give me a call or email me – I already have a list of contacts for both and I will be happy to help!

  

Historic Home Restoration and Rehabilitation – Part IV

Historic rehabilitation is a subject that I promised to touch on and I am excited to provide you with some avenues for research.  This is quite a complex area and I will do my best to highlight the important points and suggest additional resources as we go along.

I hope that you have enjoyed my previous posts regarding historic homes and that you continue to find this information relevant in your quest for a historic property.  If you missed any of my previous posts here they are:

“Rehabilitation” is defined as “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.”  ~  from The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation is the MOST comprehensive resource I have yet to find for guidelines when rehabilitating a property.  The guidelines are broken down into several categories:

  • Masonry, Wood, Metals
  • Roofs, Windows, Entrances/Porches, Storefronts
  • Structural Systems, Spaces/Features/Finishes, Mechanical Systems
  • Site, Setting
  • Energy, New Additions, Accessibility, Health/Safety

and lastly, Standard Guidelines which will be the focus of this post.

The Four Key Components to the Standard Guidelines are:

  1. Identify, Retain and Preserve:  The form and detailing of those architectural materials and features that are important in defining the historic character.
  2. Protect and Maintain:  Once characteristics are identified the next obvious step would be to protect and maintain what is existing.  It would stand to reason that protection is the first logical step before proceeding with any work on a historic property.  Protecting can be as simple as cleaning gutters, caulking, rust removal, etc.  It is during this phase where much of the present physical condition of a property can be assessed.
  3. Repair:  After physical assessments are complete and steps have been taken to protect the property repair can commence on the property.  This is where the individual sections (mentioned above) of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation come into play.  The sections are extremely detailed for which materials can be used and the extent of the work that can be performed.
  4. Replace:  Only when the level of deterioration or damage of materials precludes repair can complete replacement be considered. (for example, an exterior cornice; an interior staircase; or a complete porch or storefront).

Whether you are contemplating a historic property rehabilitation project, starting one or in the middle of one The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation is one resource that you MUST have. Other resources available and encouraged are:

Be sure to check back soon for the next post in this series that is near and dear to my heart.  With the middle of hurricane season upon us I thought it might be beneficial to give you some resources should your historic property be affected by a natural disaster.

If you have any questions regarding historic homes or are ready to start your search please feel free to email me!  I would be delighted to help.