So many homeowners are fearful of the phrase “Historic District”.
If a Historic District is proposed, homeowners protest in fear that they will not be able to paint their house the colors they want or put vinyl siding on their homes, etc, etc.
A common response is they “pay taxes and nobody is going to tell them what to do with their house”!
The simple mindset that an owner should be able to do whatever he/she wants with a building simply because “he/she owns it” is ridiculous.
Should homeowners be able to hire an unlicensed, uninsured contractor to throw together a set of ramshackle stairs without a permit? Why not? He owns it. Should he be able to dump toxic waste in the basement? Why not? He owns it. Can he pile as many tenants inside as he wants, and provide one crummy toilet and no fire protection? Why not? He owns it.
Just because you own a house or other building doesn’t mean the law be damned, like it or not. Saying a building owner should be able to do whatever they want with their building is tantamount to saying that one should be able to mistreat a pet – because they own it.
Their rebellion against authority shows ignorance and stubbornness and ignores any benefit they may receive.
Historic districts offer the homeowner an investment with protection and security.
Not many investments come with these benefits.
You are not merely investing in a house but also investing in a neighborhood and community.
As with all long term investments, you need to consider changes that can occur years from now.
You search and search for a house then finally buy a beautiful house in the nicest neighborhood.
Unfortunately like all neighborhoods, yours is an open target for change. Anything can happen.
A historic district can protect you from the following:
-Ten years later you’re told a new highway is planned to come through your neighborhood. What is to become of your cozy neighborhood?
-You sit on your porch every evening admiring the well maintained house across the street. That homeowner dies leaving the house to their hippie son. He moves in and paints the house orange and black after his favorite holiday, Halloween. The porch becomes a maintenance issue and it is then removed only to be replaced with an aluminum awning over the front door.
-The house is sold and demolished to build a McMansion.
Neighborhoods and homeowners change, and not always for the better. Your neighborhood has deteriorated and your investment is not appealing as a private residence but very appealing to investors as a rental property. This is the beginning of the end of an era.
Your house is only as good as the house next to yours. If your one house is not maintained or the design is out of character, the entire neighborhood suffers.
A Historic District offers a higher level of security for your investment.
It may not be perfect but you are more assured that what you see and love in your neighborhood today will stay the same for years to come.
Don’t be fearful of a Historic District. You will benefit from its protection.
Like a mother cares for her children, the guidelines of a Historic District will show you how to dress up and care for your house to look its best amongst other best dressed homes.
All this comes with rewards. Studies show that homes in a protected neighborhood increase in value by 5-35% per decade over homes not in a historic district.
The following table shows average property value difference to homes NOT in a Historic District.
Credit: Jonathan Mabry, Ph.D. Historic Preservation Officer Department of Urban Planning and Design City of Tucson
Improve your house by improving your neighborhood. It doesn’t matter which state you live in, or which way the economy is moving, the result is the same. The following link is a report showing the benefits.
Historic Districts are Good for Your Pocketbook: The Impact of Local Historic Districts on House Prices in South Carolina
Unfortunately I do not live in a historic district. If I did I wouldn’t have to worry about neighbors innocently making bad “improvements” or hiring contractors who give bad advise and make repairs in a style easiest for them. It’s sad that I did no much restoration to my home and I’m not in a district.
Being in a Historic District or having a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) does not make everything perfect. There are many commissions that cause more harm to historic buildings than good. I unfortunately live in one of those towns.
Since I am not in a historic district, I never know what tomorrow will bring. My advice to myself and others not in a protected district is to get out while the neighborhood is stable and find a home with the security of a historic district. Preserve and protect your homes historic character and your investment!
Recommended article: Where Do Historic Districts Come From?
That historic designations should be feared is a common misconception in the city I live in. So many people seem to believe that owners should be able to do whatever they want with their properties regardless of how it affects their neighbours.
Recently, a developer purchased a building in the downtown core that had a heritage designation. They purchased it fully aware of the heritage designation then acted surprised when the city wouldn’t let them tear it down. Reading the comments to the online news article about this, you would think that the city was out of line for refusing to issue a demolition permit for a designated heritage property that the purchaser bought knowing its status.
Of course, the developer will probably now adopt the “demolition by neglect” strategy, a favourite around here 🙁
Al Fortunato Furnituremaker says
In my opinion, what should be feared more than Historic Districts, are the Homeowner’s Associations. Historic Districts have a common goal, homeowner’s associations are nothing more that a group of people that have placed ridiculous requirements on those owning property in “their” neighborhood. Things like; not being able to have your business info on the side of your truck, not being able to fly a US Flag, your driveway is a “common” area. These are just some of the more ridiculous rules that I have run into. I would love to be in a Historical District, but would never live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association.