If you are unsure whether your property is in a Local Historic District, please contact your local Historic District Commission. You can also search by address using the Connecticut SHPO's new online tool, ConnCRIS to determine if your property is listed on the State or National Register, is in a Local Historic District or has been in an architectural survey in the past.
If you are planning to begin work on your home or building that is in a Local Historic District, be sure to check with your local commission before getting started. Most towns require you to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before getting your building permit, but even if that doesn’t happen, you are still required to get a COA, if you want to:
Remember, some alterations do not require commission review or a Certificate of Appropriateness if they:
Be sure to check your local historic district regulations to see if your commission has defined which actions require a COA review.
Check the website of your local historic district commission for it's procedure and to see if it has posted a sample COA application. Every town has a different application, but some sample applications applications can be found here:Sample application (Stratford 2013) Sample application (Norwich nd)
Some towns have Design Guidelines which can give you an understanding of expectations related to your project. They can give alternatives to solving various problems or issues and explain the reasoning behind the commission's approval process. Not every town has Design Guidelines, but they are a wonderful tool that can help both commissioners and applicants manage expectations. Some sample design guidelines from towns throughout the state include:Norwich Local Historic District Design Guidelines (2022) Ridgefield Historic District Design Guidelines (2020) Roxbury Historic District Design Guidelines (2018) Salisbury Historic District Commission Guide for Residents (2016) Middletown Design Guidelines (2002) East Hartford Design Guidelines (nd)
The Secretary of Interior Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties provide a framework for understanding the philosophy behind the stewardship of historic buildings. The Rehabilitation Standards are best suited to homeowners interested in making changes to their properties. Information on specific subjects ranging from porches to masonry to substitute materials can be found in the National Park Service's Preservation Briefs. For practical tips on historic windows, see Don't Replace...Repair (Window Preservation Alliance). The National Park Service has also issued guidance on Solar Panels on Historic Properties (2022).
In many cases rehabilitation costs related to the upkeep of buildings listed on the State or National Register can qualify for financial incentives (buildings in LHDs and LHPs listed prior to February 2019 are automatically listed on the State Register). Private homeowners with listed houses can apply for the Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit can be used to bring a historic building back into service with commercial use, mixed use, or 5 or more residential units. Non Profits and Municipalities may qualify for grants through Preservation Connecticut or the State Historic Preservation Office.
A 2011 study of Connecticut Local Historic Districts and Property Values has shown that property values in local historic districts generally increase at a greater rate than those in similar neighborhoods without LHD designation and protections. In addition, the study found that in some cases properties in LHDs may be worth more on a square foot basis than comparable properties in the same town but not within a LHD.