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When you work with Blake and his company, you are working with the best of the best of the best!  — Charles Hackney

Thank you, Historic Tax Credits. Regards, Durham

(Part 2)

Local Historic Regulations

The local historic regulations are very specific and extremely concerned about what some consider minute details. Original materials and architectural details are very important. For instance, while the rest of the country is experiencing a “replacement window” craze, the Historic Preservation Commission is very attached to the old, single-pane windows and require that you use storm windows and caulk to address energy efficiency. Brick walls that have never been painted must remain unpainted; rotten items must be repaired first rather than replaced (no matter the cost); etc. Often times, homeowners are unaware of these local laws and are met some surprisingly bad news after they have spent money to “improve” their home.

In this case, it is definitely better to ask for permission rather than forgiveness. It is also important to keep in mind that these local ordinances only govern the outside of a property. They do not restrict owners from making changes to the floor plan to accommodate our changing lifestyles. For example, many of these historic homes did not have indoor plumbing or bathrooms when they were originally built.

The Durham Historic Tax Credit

At first, it sounds expensive just to live in a historic home; but that is where the historic tax credits come in. All improvements done to historic properties bring a 30% tax credit, not deduction but credit (40% for income generating properties), against year-end income filings. This credit is not only a great reward to property owners for taking care of these important structures, but it is often an essential resource that saves a property. Many of downtown Durham’s prized buildings would be vacant and falling down without the historic tax credits.

Some of you may be unhappy about red tape and governmental control over personal property, but these laws serve an important purpose. They keep Durham, Durham. They allow us to remain connected to our identity and long term plan and they celebrate our rich history. Without laws like these, rapid gentrification could change the face of town without respect to our city plan. There are cities in the US without these planning ordinances that have become a confused amalgamation of cultures, leading to new, but boring suburban development. There is something special about how we have married the old with the new here in Durham. The revitalization of our city has been coupled with a sense of place. Our history is intact and therefore the unknown of the future is more exciting than potentially worrisome. So if you live in a historic district or you are thinking about buying in one, keep these tax credits in mind as you plan your next renovation. The rest of Durham thanks you for maintaining these historic properties and we celebrate your work with you.

You will continue to make this city special.



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801 Gillbert Street, Suit 101Durham, NC 27701(919) 943-6214