Historic home renovation goes green in Charlotte

Historic home renovation goes green in Charlotte

by Kristen Rojowski

Beth Hardin, a 14-year resident of the historic Elizabeth neighborhood on the east side of Charlotte, N.C., wanted to maintain the historical look of her 1935 Colonial revival cottage when she decided to remodel last year. She also was interested in recouping some of her investment through state tax credits.

So she hired highly rated Masterbuilder Fellowship for the Built Environment, a design-build firm based in Matthews, N.C., with experience in historic preservation. The firm followed local historic preservation guidelines despite the fact that Hardin's neighborhood rejected its local historic district designation nearly 15 years ago.

Home to Independence Park, the city's first public park, the Elizabeth neighborhood remains on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's possible to do a historic preservation renovation and end up with a well proportioned, big enough house that honors the people who built it and have lived in it," Hardin says.

The historic remodel with green elements nearly doubled the home's size to 2,800 square feet, adding about 70 square feet to the original footprint. They built up, turning the unfinished attic into an ornate second-floor enclave with a master bedroom, bathroom, dressing room, library and second bedroom.

Masterbuilder also incorporated green elements into the home, including the reclaimed heart pinewood flooring on the new second floor and bathroom cabinets made with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

"I wanted to show people you can actually do both," Hardin says of preserving history and going green.

John Rogers, the Charlotte Historic District Commission's planning coordinator and administrator, says homeowners who do not live in a local historic district can qualify for state tax credits by getting qualifying renovations certified by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office — a process made easier by following the commission's guidelines on historic preservation.

"Being zoned a historic district adds another layer of protection to residents because our office must review permits before work begins," Rogers says.

The guidelines help ensure that additions and renovations look like they belong, according to the style of the home, neighborhood and streetscape, he says.

Residential historic renovations are eligible for a 30 percent state tax credit for qualifying expenses. Only historic structures certified by the National Register of Historic Places are eligible and the rehabilitation expenses must exceed $25,000 in a 24-month period.

Hardin's home was constructed to optimize sunlight in every room, she says. In preparation for the redesign, Masterbuilder's founding partner Kevin Carpenter spent time outside to see how the home interacted with the environment.

Carpenter says his company has done several historic renovations and the design aspect is the most important.

"We go through an extensive design process to make sure all work is harmonious with the structure and meets the client's needs," Carpenter says.

Hardin says Masterbuilder also handled the necessary documentation on her remodel. "The design was excellent and totally in keeping with historic preservation," Hardin says. "I love my 'new' old home."


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