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Historic Annapolis Homes: Restoring and Renovating for Modern Living

Annapolis is filled with historic homes with their own unique stories to tell. Many purchase these historic properties because they fall in love with them and everything they offer. However, if you own a historic Annapolis home, you may also want the benefits of modern living, from upgraded appliances and smart home technology to an energy-efficient property that isn't a constant drain on your resources. If you're planning to restore or renovate a historic home, there are several things you may need to keep in mind.

Know local restrictions and limitations

Restoring and renovating historic homes in Annapolis, Maryland, is subject to specific laws and regulations to preserve the city's rich historical heritage. Annapolis is known for its well-preserved historic districts and properties, and these laws are in place to protect the unique character and architectural significance of these structures. Here are some key aspects of restoring and renovating historic homes in Annapolis:

Local Historic Preservation Commission

Annapolis has a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) responsible for overseeing historic properties within the city. The HPC enforces regulations and guidelines to protect the historic character of properties located within designated historic districts.

Designation of Historic Districts

Annapolis has several designated historic districts, including the Annapolis Historic District, which is subject to strict preservation regulations. These districts are defined by geographic boundaries, and properties within them are subject to specific guidelines for restoration and renovation.

Certificate of Approval

Property owners in designated historic districts must obtain a Certificate of Approval from the HPC before making any exterior changes to their homes. This includes alterations, additions, demolitions, and new construction. The HPC reviews proposed projects to ensure they are in keeping with the historic character of the district.

Guidelines and Restrictions

The HPC provides detailed guidelines that outline what is allowed and what is not when it comes to exterior changes to historic properties. These guidelines may cover aspects such as architectural styles, materials, paint colors, and landscaping. Property owners must adhere to these guidelines.

Demolition Restrictions

In historic districts, there are often strict limitations on the demolition of historic structures. The goal is to preserve as much of the historic fabric as possible. Property owners typically need to demonstrate that a structure is beyond repair or has no historical significance before obtaining permission for demolition.

Tax Credits

Annapolis may offer tax incentives and credits to property owners who undertake the restoration and preservation of historic properties. These incentives can help offset the costs associated with renovation.

Public Input

In some cases, the HPC may consider public input and comments when reviewing proposed projects. This ensures that the community's interests and concerns are taken into account during the preservation process.

Professional Guidance

Property owners are often encouraged to work with architects, contractors, and preservation experts who are familiar with the unique challenges and requirements of restoring historic homes. These professionals can help ensure that renovations comply with preservation standards.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with historic preservation regulations can result in fines, stop-work orders, and legal actions. It is crucial for property owners to obtain the necessary approvals before beginning work.

It's important to note that the specific regulations and guidelines may vary depending on the historic district and the nature of the proposed changes. Property owners should consult with the Annapolis Historic Preservation Commission and review the guidelines and regulations applicable to their specific property. This process is essential to maintaining the historical integrity of Annapolis while allowing for responsible and well-preserved renovations of its historic homes.

Know what you can restore

The historic homes throughout Annapolis were often built with tough, durable materials that could withstand the test of time. That usually means hardwoods, stone, and other high-quality elements. That means that, rather than replacing them when they are damaged the way you might have with modern, cheaper materials, you can often choose to restore those older attributes, pieces, and accents. New sealant, a fresh coat of paint or finish, and a little elbow grease can often go a long way toward improving the appearance of aged pieces of your property.

Replace what needs to be replaced

In many historic homes, you will find elements that have not quite withstood the test of time the way you might hope. You might find, for example, that the roof needs to be replaced or that you need to get rid of appliances that do not fit your current needs or no longer function. In many cases, you can replace those items with replicas that keep the original feel of the property without sacrificing modern convenience. Work with a restoration expert to better understand when you may need to replace key elements of the property, what needs to be replaced, and how you can make the most of your project.

Keep the feel of the home intact

You likely purchased your historic Annapolis property because you fell in love with something about it: the overall feel and design of the house, the weight of the history inside it, and the knowledge that many generations have lived there before you. Before you launch your renovation project, take the time to consider what you fell in love with around your home and how you can keep that feeling intact.

That doesn't mean you're doomed to historic-style decor or can't step out and embrace modern trends. However, you may want to incorporate older designs, keep the home's overall layout the same, or highlight historic elements of the house. Working with a restoration expert can provide key insights into maintaining the feel of the home you love while modernizing.

Don't be afraid of modern living elements

When you live in a historic home, you may feel that adding modern elements will be out of step with the existing style of the house. However, many modern finishes and features are a key part of living the luxury lifestyle that you've always wanted. Look into modern living elements and how to subtly add them to your home to improve your house and comfort.

Smart technology

Smart home technology has become increasingly important to many homeowners. Fortunately, it's often hidden from the eye since most of the controls are on your phone. You can install smart lighting with switches and dimmers, smart security systems that will help protect your home, and a smart thermostat that will allow you to control the temperature from anywhere. If you're trying to hide those elements, you may want to consider adding decorative pictures or woodwork.

Modern windows

Upgrading your windows isn't just about creating a new look for your home. It can also help increase energy efficiency, reduce heating and cooling costs, and provide better lighting. You can choose windows in a style that fits the historic look of your home.

Energy-efficient lighting and appliances

Energy efficiency can help cut down on your electricity bills and make your home more sustainable. Unfortunately, many historic homes do not include those elements. You can, however, make those upgrades. You don't have to get stuck with appliances that consume excessive amounts of energy and don't work the way you might like. Instead, purchase modern upgrades. Cabinetry and woodwork can help hide those elements and keep the historic look of your home intact.

Prepare for unexpected costs

Renovating historic homes can unearth unforeseen challenges, from electrical issues to mold remediation. Ensure your budget accounts for potential surprises so you don't face project delays or safety concerns. Additionally, explore grants and tax credits available for historic restoration, which can make your project more affordable.

Find the historic Annapolis home of your dreams

Are you looking for a historic home in Annapolis? Whether you're interested in purchasing a home as is or you have renovation projects in mind, The Tower Team can help you find the ideal home. Reach out today to learn more about the properties on the Annapolis market and how they may fit your needs.

*Header photo courtesy of The Tower Team

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