Plan a Project

Step 1: Determine the designation status of your property.

  • Is the property located within a Historic District designated by the City of Houston? How is the property classified? The Historic District Section includes maps illustrating the district borders and each property's classification as contributing or noncontributing. You may also call the Historic Preservation staff at 832-393-6556 to identify the property’s classification. Once identified, proceed to Step 2.

  • Is the property a Landmark or Protected Landmark? If so, proceed to Step 2.

  • Contributing structure means a building, structure, object or site that reinforces, or that has conditions, which, if reversed, would reinforce, the cultural, architectural or historical significance of the historic district in which it is located, and that is identified as contributing upon the designation of the historic district in which it is located. The term also includes any structure that was identified as "potentially contributing" in any historic district.

  • Noncontributing structure means a building, structure, object or site that does not reinforce the cultural, architectural, or historical significance of the historic district in which it is located, and is identified as noncontributing upon the designation of the historic district in which it is located.

Step 2: Identify the scope of your project.

Review the list and determine which best describes your project.

  • Alteration means any change to the exterior of a building, structure, object or site. Alteration shall include, but is not limited to, replacing historic material; changing to a different kind, type or size of roofing or siding materials or foundation; changing, eliminating, or adding exterior doors, door frames, windows, window frames, shutters, railings, columns, beams, walls, porches, steps, porte-cocheres, balconies, signs attached to the exterior of a building, or ornamentation; or the dismantling, moving or removing of any exterior feature. Alteration includes expanding an existing structure or the construction of an addition to an existing structure. Alteration includes the painting of unpainted masonry surfaces. Alteration does not include ordinary maintenance and repair or the addition or replacement of fences that are not otherwise regulated by this article.

  • Rehabilitation means the act or process of returning a building, structure, object or site to a state of utility that makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions or exterior features that are historically, architecturally and culturally significant.

  • Restoration means the act or process of accurately recovering the form and details of a building, structure, object or site and its setting as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of later work, or by the replacement of missing earlier work or both.

  • New Construction means a free-standing building or structure proposed to be constructed within a historic district designated by city council, whether that building or structure is on the location of a vacant lot or a lot with another structure on it.

  • Relocation means any change in the location of a building, structure or object.

  • Demolition means an act or process that destroys, in whole or in part, or permanently impairs the structural integrity of any building, structure, object or site. The term also includes demolition by neglect, which is defined as inaction or a series of inactions that result in the destruction or irreversible deterioration of a building, structure, object, or site.

Step 3: Contact the City of Houston Planning & Development Department

The earlier you begin a conversation about your property in your project planning, the better off it will be. Calling while you are still in the sketch-on-the-back-of-an-envelope stage is perfect. It’s essential that you talk to staff before you create construction drawings. The Historic Preservation staff can help you identify ways to streamline your application process, as well as ways to prevent pitfalls or delays. Contact the Historic Preservation Office: 832-393-6556 or

Step 4: Download the necessary Application Forms.

Prior to consulting with the Planning and Development staff, please download the application forms that are required for your type of project, which includes the general form and a project specific checklist. Download the PDF forms from the Planning and Development webpage.

Step 5: Apply for a COA

Continue to Certificate of Appropriateness section.