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Permits & Design Review

The District of Columbia's historic preservation law is intended to ensure that work done on historic properties is compatible with their historic character. This is accomplished through a design review of building permits and subdivision applications.

Please Note: 

Changes in the permitting process through the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and Department of Transportation (DDOT) were announced  in a March 24 press release.


Is there a separate permit process for historic property?


No. If you own historic property, you follow the same building permit process as for non-historic property. The historic preservation review is an extra step in the normal application procedure. You do not apply separately for a preservation approval.

What is design review?

Design review (also called historic preservation review) is a way to help you meet preservation standards when preparing plans for work on a historic property. Depending on the type and extent of work you propose, the review can involve consulting a staff member in the Historic Preservation Office (HPO), or making a formal submission to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

Commission of Fine Arts Review

Not all design review is conducted by HPRB or HPO. The US Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) reviews building projects in the Georgetown Historic District, on government property, and in the Shipstead-Luce area around major federal buildings, parks and sites.

Special Review Situations

Additional preservation review requirements apply to properties with historic preservation easements. There are also planning reviews that apply to properties in Chinatown and the old Downtown area along and near Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

For More Information