The Detroit Historic District Commission is a city agency that was formed by Detroit Ordinance 161-H in 1976. Its purpose is to ensure the preservation of historically and culturally significant areas of the City which are designated by the City Council as Historic Districts.
It is the Commission's job to ensure that changes proposed in historic districts preserve important historic characteristics and are compatible with the historic buildings. When proposing a change to the exterior of a property such as landscaping, paint colors, windows, or doors the homeowner or contractor submits an application for building permit to the Commission for review. If the work is appropriate the Commission (or the Commission's staff) will issue a certificate of appropriateness which allows the Buildings and Safety Engineering Department to issue a building permit.
Detroit's Historic Districts are wonderful places to live, and you can take part in saving Detroit's history for future generations. The buildings and landscaping are all important in a historic district and the Detroit Historic District Commission regulates changes to be sure the historic character is preserved.
As a homeowner you do have an added responsibility. All exterior changes to your house, including painting, fencing, roof replacement, and other types of changes must be approved by the Commission. Homeowners who wish to make exterior changes to their house must obtain permission from the Commission (see the Detroit Historic District Commission Guidelines and Procedures).
The Commission does not regulate changes to the interior of a house, unless the interior change affects the exterior experience.
The Commission has a publication called Detroit Historic Districts Style and Color Guide that gives the acceptable colors depending on the style of the house. Color charts and instructions are provided by the Commission staff. The Paint and Color Guidelines, as well as the complete Individual Color Systems, are available on the HDC's website.
The Commission is required to review all exterior changes, including those not visible from the street. The entire house, garage and yard contribute to the historic character of the district.
The Commission is required to use The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings when deciding whether work is appropriate in a historic district.
No, neither the Detroit Historic District Commission nor the Historic Boston-Edison Association approves contractors. You can use any contractor you wish, or do the work yourself. However, it is ultimately the homeowner's responsibility to make sure the work done conforms to guidelines. Ask your contractor is he has experience working in Historic Districts. For a list of contractors suggested by neighbors in Boston-Edison, see the Preferred Contractor List. These lists are provided as a convenience and are not an endorsement.
More information on Commission guidelines and procedures is on the Historic District Commission Guidelines and Procedures page or contact HBEA with a question.