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
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
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
Washington DC, or call (301) 327-3013.