Buying a home in an historic district

As a Realtor© who works regularly in the historic districts, I have an understanding about possible restrictions facing my buyer clients. When prospective buyers speak with agents about adding a porch or replacing a worn roof with a different material, an agent should know enough to question whether that is even a possibility.  Energy efficient upgrades like dual pane vinyl windows or solar panels may sound like a good idea to buyers, and they may get excited about making additions and changes to existing homes to better accommodate their families and modern lifestyles while living in the area they desire. But will these changes be permitted? It depends.

Some Boiseans are aware that a part of the North End is an historic area, but there are actually nine Historic Preservation Districts in Boise. Four are in the North End, two in the East End, two downtown, and the ninth is Spaulding Ranch on Cole Road. If you choose to buy a home in one of these areas, you are restricted not only by city building codes but also by the regulations of the particular historic preservation district in which your home is located.

Many people love the idea of owning an historic home. These houses have so much character and can make wonderful places to live. Though I currently live in a modern home (circa 1950), I have had the pleasure of living in (and remodeling) a 1900 Bungalow and a 1902 Queen Anne Victorian home in Boise’s North End Historic Preservation District. There are many things you need to know before undertaking a renovation in this or any of the other districts. If your agent is not familiar with these areas and the restrictions they have, please be sure to educate yourself.  A good place to start is The City of Boise website ( There you will find some residential design guidelines, information on obtaining a Certification of Appropriateness, if needed, as well as times and dates of commission hearings.

So enjoy the many pleasures of owning a treasured piece of Boise’s history, but be sure to make an educated purchase. Know the rules before you buy.



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