Round 1 w/ Historic Preservation – OK So Far

It took us forever to get our application together for the historic preservation tax credit, but we finally got it in just after New Years. Yesterday we got a call from one of the reviewers who asked a few questions and then sent us a PDF of their comments. All in all no huge surprises. They wanted a lot more detail on exactly what we were doing with the exterior masonry. How we were getting the stucco off the brick in the rear. How we were cleaning the brick. Exactly what we going to do with the front since the brownstone is currently painted, etc. If you follow historic preservation guidelines none of those items are big deals. It’s just important to make sure you know what they want before you do it. Today we had a meeting with our contractor and the masonry sub-contractor – none of it seemed to be a problem, though it did change how he was going to handle the brownstone in the front.

They also wanted to know what we meant about raising the parapets. They prefer we put railings on top of the parapets instead of raising them. However, on the party wall fire code requires that we actually raise the parapet. The sum total is that they want us to raise parapets as little as possible and prefer railings over taller parapets since railings are easily reversible.

One issue was that we had spec’d vinyl windows in bathrooms. The windows are in shower areas and vinyl is more appropriate in a wet location. Plus, it’s in a sidewall which is a few feet from an apartment building – so not generally visible. The said they understood why we had spec’d vinyl in that particular location, but said the National Park Service usually doesn’t like vinyl windows. But the sum total was that they cautioned us to not order the windows before we get NPS approval – so it sounds like they personally think vinyl is OK in that particular situation.

The last issue was that I told her we heard from our window and door manufacturer that they weren’t able to fabricate 10 foot tall doors. That means we’d need to have shorter doors with a transom on top. I said our other option was to get salvaged doors and restore them, but our concern was that they wouldn’t be identical to what was there originally. She thought salvaged doors were the stronger option even if they weren’t like the originals. As long as they were of the neighborhood and of the era we’d be fine. However, in talking to our contractor today he’d prefer to make new replicas of the original doors. We just have a photo of our place from 1940, but I think it should be good enough for him to come pretty close to what was there originally, so that’s what we’ll propose in our revised application.

All in all nothing major. That means we can proceed with getting a loan and going into contract with our contractor. More hurdles to jump through, but we’re moving forward…

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