Permitting Process 101

Historic Preservation Permitting Process 101

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For any construction or renovation project, the permitting process is complex, but required. For renovations on a historical home there is another layer added with the requirements from historic preservation regulatory boards. Although many homeowners and contractors view it as a nuisance and tightly regulated restrictions by the government, they are there for the safety of buildings, the people residing in them and historic preservation of surrounding area.

In Washington D.C, local preservation boards are the Historical Preservation Office or the Commission of Fine Arts. In Baltimore, historic preservation is overseen by the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. All permits issued in designated historical neighborhoods must be approved by one of these offices.

Why you want a permit process: Due to natural disasters and other preventable accidents in the past, building permits have been reevaluated to see how buildings can become an even safer environment for citizens while still maintaining historic preservation. From fires, collapsed buildings and hurricanes, building permits require certain standards. Maintaining a safe environment also helps protect future homeowners and will also help with the moving process if you ever decide to sell your home.

All permit processes are public records. As public knowledge, it is essential for you to have a permit process before you start any renovations because future buyers can see if any changes were done with or without a renovation permit. As a homebuyer, research what certified renovations were made before you purchase a home; there could be unsafe areas that slip by inspections after a renovation.

How you get a permit process: The process is complex, but worth it as a renovator. In the District of Columbia, Title 11 outlines the development standards of buildings ranging from the size of buildings, lots, yards and parking areas. Before you submit your application, you must figure out if the building is in an area with restrictions. Homes in historic neighborhoods require additional approval in ensure historic preservation requirements are met.

After you turn in your application for review, the permit center will go over the information and make sure all necessary signatures and requirements are met. Your job will then be classified as non-complex or complex. If you have a complex job, your plan will be further reviewed by qualified engineers.

The plan review consists of zoning, mechanical, electrical, fire and structural disciplines. You may use building inspections through the Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs, or you can outsource to approved and external agencies. For historic preservation, the permit application must also go through the HPO, CFA or CHAP for further review.

Permit processing is time consuming, but it guarantees your home’s safety. For questions, visit our Pella Showroom in Baltimore, or call 301-637-0762.