Let's Start at the Very Beginning .....
Congratulations, you have a home in one of Boston's nine historic districts. To preserve these precious historic properties, the Boston Landmarks Commission must approve all changes before work can start on your project. Ensuring the preservation of historic Boston is in all our interests. To lend a helping hand to all residents, SBNA has an Architectural Review Committee. When requested, Lee and his team performs a design review to assess whether a projects visible and non-visible alterations or additions comply with Landmarks Standards and Criteria for the St. Botolph Street Architectural Conservation District.(SBSACD). Proposals that respect Landmark's guidelines can be approved more quickly. More details about SBNA's Architectural Review Committee is available on the committee page.
After Landmarks, depending on the scale and complexity of your project, head to Inspectional Services at 1010 Massachusetts Ave., who have a straight forward system to guide you through the process of obtaining the necessary permits and licenses to begin your project.
Click on the map above for an interesting look at Boston's Historic Districts.
Boston Landmarks Commission
The Boston Landmarks Commission preserves landmarked historic properties in the City. Within Landmarks there is a Planner who oversees St Botolph and an Architectural Conservation District Commission who reviews and approve proposed work. Some examples can include, but are not limited to: roof decks, additions, window replacement, masonry cleaning or repointing, signage, repainting stairs, etc. There are easy links below to contact Landmarks to find out exactly what you need.
Meet the Saint Botolph Planner
Nicholas Armata is our preservation planner. Nick's mission is to promote and enhance our district through design review management, community engagement and policy enforcement. If you see some construction or work being done that you believe is in conflict with the standards and criteria, do get in touch with Nick. Also, he will be happy to guide you through your design review and answer any questions you may have. Phone 617-635-3850 / email firstname.lastname@example.org
Work that needs approval
The Commission reviews proposed changes to design, materials, or appearance of the exterior. Interior changes usually don't need approval unless the inside of the property is landmarked. Check this list for interior designations. There is some interior work that is actually exterior - for example window replacement, new HVAC equipment, and vents are all exterior changes related to interior work. Check this list for interior designations.
Who approves and reviews projects for the Saint Botolph Historic District
Within The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) there is The Saint Botolph Architectural Conservation District Commission (SBACDC). It meets on the third Wednesday of each month to review proposed work. It is comprised of volunteers nominated by professional organizations and neighborhood groups. At the moment, there are seven commission members. There are open positions on the SBACDC. You may apply directly online with Landmarks or for more help, contact the SBNA Architectural Committee here. Learn about how Landmarks protects Boston’s historic resources.
The Review Process
All design review starts with a complete application. For more details go the the City of Boston website
Your project has a better chance of commission approval if it follows the guidelines.
Here are some more useful links -
Standards and Criteria for the Saint Botolph Neighborhood.
The study report for Saint Botolph Area
After Landmarks get your complete application, staff will decide if your project is exempt from review. If the project must be approved by the Commission, their staff will help coordinate your presentation. You may have to attend one or more public hearings, depending on your project's scope. Once your project meets the guidelines and is approved by the Commission, staff sends you a Certificate of Design Approval.
The Inspectional Services permit process is based on whether you're making changes to a structure or to a building’s occupancy. Permitting for minor changes can be done online or in person. Major changes usually can only be started online, and you need to complete them in person.
Submitting Plans Online
1010 Massachusetts Ave. accept electronic building plans for long-form permit applications.
Regardless of whether any work is approved or exempt by Inspectional Services Zoning Board of Appeal, because you are in a historic district you will still need to submit an application to the Boston Landmarks Commission. For minor work not involving structural work, life safety systems and egress changes, a short-form building permit may be allowed. Electrical, plumbing and gas permits will also be processed. These permits are typically issued the same day. Find out what type of permit you need for your project.
For larger projects you'll have to show 1010 Massachusetts Ave. your plans and any supporting documents. A representative at Counter 1 will help you with the next steps.
We are looking for interested residents to serve on citizen advisory committees on upcoming projects. If you are interested please contact us.