Know Your Standards!

By standards, I mean the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  Essentially, rehabilitation takes a historic building and adapts it for modern use. However, it is more complicated than that.

First, why would you want to follow the standards? The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are used in determining if a project will qualify for a historic tax credit. So, you can get the tax credit if you follow the standards. Second, as of right now, the tax credit can only apply to income producing properties; in other words, not your private home (but a rental home counts).

Alright, so when talking about tax credits and standards, you should also know that in order for a property to be considered for this tax credit, it must be eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  If your property isn’t already listed, be prepared for research!

Now, you have an income producing property eligible for or on the National Register. Perfect! Now you can get to work. Hang on, this is where the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation come into play. Basically, they are guidelines to follow in order to maintain the integrity and character defining features of your historic property. After all, if a rehabilitation erased everything important about the building then it would no longer be eligible for the National Register. See how it works?

There are 10 standards to follow, to know, to memorize, to justify to the National Park Service that you adhered to. Want a fun way to learn them? Take the electronic rehab course offered by the NPS – an interactive web “course.” (One of my professors shared this link with us.) You can review all 10 standards, see them in action, and then take a quiz to see what you’ve learned!  If you don’t have time in a classroom or with a group discussing the standards, this is an excellent starting point! (Actually, even being a student talking about, I find this to be a good review.)  Enjoy! Thanks again, NPS!