How to Restore a Historic House & Get a Grant
Restoring an historic house can be an exciting, costly and time-consuming effort. It is important to carefully research your home and property to ensure historical accuracy and thoroughly plan for the necessary expenditures. There are specific guidelines for obtaining a grant for a historic house, and once these guidelines are met, funding may be available.
Search your home for pictures or documents that may be related to the history of the house. Sometimes previous occupants leave behind papers or pictures in attics and basements. It is important to know what your home looked like when it was originally built so that you can adhere to the original design and materials.
Contact your local historical society for information about your house and other historic homes in the area. Historic societies have information about owners, architects and sometimes stories and pictures related to older homes.
Research your property restrictions if you live in a designated Local Historic District. Restrictions might limit choices on exterior design elements such as paint color, shutters or gutters.
Speak with homeowners in your area who have experience with historic renovations. People who have done this work will be able to offer advice regarding permits, contractors and unexpected problems that may arise.
Contact your State Historic Preservation Office for information about funding. Sometimes there are resources within specific mortgages or tax incentives for this type of renovation. Grants are generally not available to individuals but are available to nonprofit organizations and municipalities.
Explore the possibility of granting a preservation easement on your property with your State Historic Preservation Office. A preservation easement donates the property to a charitable trust organization while allowing you to retain all ownership rights, including the right to pass the property to your heirs. The easement ensures that the property will be historically maintained in perpetuity and allows some financial and tax benefits.
Interview and hire restoration specialists to perform the necessary renovations. Ask potential contractors about prior experience and materials used. Always ask for references and, if possible, visit homes a contractor has restored.
Decide on what type of nonprofit business you will operate from your house. In order to qualify for a grant, you must be a nonprofit business or municipality. You might consider operating your house as a museum, social services organization or service provider for your church.
Consult with an attorney to obtain the necessary papers to file for nonprofit status. Discuss the corporate structure and financial obligations that are required to maintain this status with your attorney.
Write grant proposals for available grant monies within organizations such as state capital improvement grants, national trust preservation funds and historic preservation technical assistance grants. Contact your State Historic Preservation Office for more information on grants that might be available.
Maintain accurate records and receipts for all grant monies received. It is important to be able to account for how grant money was spent in order to qualify for ongoing funding.
- Homeowners insurance companies offer specialized insurance for historic homes. Speak with your insurance agent for specific details about this product.
- Consult with an accountant regarding specific tax incentives related to owning a historic house. Preservation easements and non-profit entities all have special categories within the IRS. A tax professional can help determine exact benefits.