Help us build a better toolbox.

The Homeowners Preservation Toolbox is for those who own or care for a historic home or farm. Each TOOL below includes a brief overview with links to more detailed information from the most qualified sources. Each tool includes STRATEGIES, examples of best practices and proven solutions, along with potential PARTNERS for collaboration.

Tool ♦ National Register Listing

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources. Learn more about how to have a property added to the National Register HERE.

Tool ♦ Preservation Easements

A preservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that protects a significant historic, archaeological, or cultural resource. An easement provides assurance to the owner of a historic or cultural property that the property’s intrinsic values will be preserved through subsequent ownership. Certain tax benefits may result for certified historic properties.

Knox Heritage and the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance currently hold several easements on historic properties and are prepared to assist with this process. Please contact us for more information. You can read more about preservation easements in this National Park Service publication or in this National Trust publication.

Please note that easements are legal tools defined by state laws (and, in some cases, if federal tax incentives are sought, by federal law) and the advice and assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, tax adviser, appraiser, and/or other professionals should be sought prior to using this tool. The National Trust offers a preservation easement Q & A that may answer some additional questions. For tax benefits associated with such easements, please review this information and refer to IRS guidelines.

Tool ♦ Donations of Property

There are many reasons a property donation to a 501(c)3 like Knox Heritage is worth considering. There may be a tax deduction for the value of the donation, there may be reduced capital gains taxes if the property has appreciated substantially while under one ownership, there is assurance that the property will be protected with a preservation easement going forward (controlling exterior changes and prohibiting demolition), there can be timely relief from managing expenses involved with maintenance and ownership, and preservation organizations like ours can assist with finding a preservation-minded new owner who will commit to renovating the property and proper maintenance going forward (which our easements require). Every property is different and every owner can have a different reason for this consideration. Our organization is here to assist with these transitions when they can have a positive outcome for all parties involved. Please contact Todd Morgan, Executive Director, for more information.

Tool ♦ Renovation Loans

In the past, purchasing a fixer-upper was difficult: most banks wouldn’t grant a mortgage on a house in bad shape until repairs have been completed, but repairs couldn’t possibly be made until the house is purchased. This put homebuyers in a difficult position. Now, thanks to the FHA 203(k) rehab loan, it’s possible to purchase a property and include the cost of repairs and improvements in the loan — making it easier than ever before to purchase a fixer-upper or renovate your current home. An FHA 203(k) rehab loan, also referred to as a renovation loan, enables homebuyers and homeowners to finance both the purchase or refinance along with the renovation of a home through a single mortgage. Instead of applying for multiple loans, an FHA 203(k) rehab loan allows homebuyers to purchase or refinance their primary home and renovate it with one convenient loan. By allowing the buyer to finance the cost of improvements into the purchase or refinance of a home, home rehab loans take the financial guesswork and frustration out of renovating a home. Learn more about these loans on Zillow or HUD. You can use FHA 203(k) loans for commercial mixed-use properties. Read more about that HERE.

Tool ♦ Researching Your Home’s History

If you live in a house that’s more than a few decades old, it’s natural to wonder about its history. Who built it, and when? Who lived there before you moved in? You might even wonder about the evolution of the home’s structure, as well as any changes made to it over time. A Guide to Researching the History of a House
by HomeAdvisor will help you get started.

Tool ♦ How To Inspect A Historic Structure

Tips for evaluating historic structures.

Historic preservation treats historic buildings in one of four ways: preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, or reconstruction. No matter which treatment you ultimately choose, you must first assess the condition of your historic structure. Condition assessments are a holistic approach to understanding how buildings were constructed, used, and maintained, and the various mechanisms that affect their structural and material condition. Whether done for research purposes or as a precursor to restoration work, all condition assessments have two primary objectives: to identify materials and features, and evaluate their condition.

Strategies ♦  The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training provides these Tips For Historic Building Owners. Be sure to read the National Park Service Preservation Brief No. 34, Understanding Old Buildings:The Process of Architectural Investigation. Consider using the California Park Structure Assessment Checklist. Watch a training video.

Tool ♦ Grants

Grants for restoration of private homes are rare. Public and private grants usually go to properties that are going to be used for the good of the public, such as libraries or historic office buildings. Always check to see if there are local programs through government or foundations that may be able to assist.

Strategies ♦ Mayor Madeline Rogero and the City of Knoxville launched a Historic Preservation Fund in 2014 which allows private residential properties to apply for funding through an annual process. Typically, applications are due in December with evaluations occurring in the following February. Homes must be located within one of the City’s designated historic districts, listed in the National Register of Historic Places or been recognized on the Knox Heritage Fragile 15 list to qualify. To find out if your property is in a Knoxville historic district, follow this LINK. To learn more about the Historic Preservation Fund, follow this LINK.

Also, the Tennessee Historical Commission administers federal preservation funds used for matching grants. Any individual, government, private organization, or educational institution may apply for funds. More specifically, owners or administrators of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places may apply for funds to restore or to plan for the restoration of those properties. If an applicant for a restoration grant is not the owner of the property, the owner must provide written consent to the applicant and must agree to execute the required preservation covenants on the property. Priority is given to properties that have a public use and public support. Learn more HERE.

Tool ♦ Renovation and Repair Resources

Tool ♦ Books on Preservation

Find the reference book that’s right for you: Preservation Bookstore on PreservationDirectory.com; 13 Essential Preservation Books from the National Trust