Then & Now: Get relief for your renovation project

BY STUART EISENBERG — Need help fixing up your older home? Tax credits can ease the pain.

There is an important benefit available to homes in historic districts: The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit for homeowners. This credit provides a one-time state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified renovation expenditures. The credit is capped at $50,000 and must be spent in a 24-month period. A property owner must have a minimum of $5,000 of eligible expenses in order to qualify, and the application process is relatively easy. The tax credit goes a long way to driving your renovation costs down and opens up an avenue to knowledgeable state preservation officers who determine program eligibility, work that qualifies for credits, and how the work has to be done to be tax-credit compliant. Seasoned officers may also be resources to help homeowners solve renovation challenges.

How can I use these credits?

Eligible repairs include roof repair/replacement, chimney repair and lining, window restoration, installation of storm doors/windows, masonry repointing, floor refinishing, structural repairs, plumbing, electrical and AC, architectural/engineering consulting fees and tool rentals. As many of these repairs and upgrades can be costly, the credit sometimes means the difference between getting work done and  putting off critical maintenance. Anecdotally, the program favors higher ticket, high-impact, one-time projects like roofing, air conditioning and furnace replacement. The program doesn’t pay for new construction. Program details can be found at mht.maryland.gov/taxcredits_homeowner.shtml.

Maryland’s review period runs about 30 to 45 days after MHT receives a completed application and review fee. In Hyattsville, the credit is available only to properties designated as contributing resources to the city’s National Register Historic District.

Home maintenance and renovation can be daunting, even for seasoned homeowners, and repair and maintenance of an older home is often an ongoing process. Hyattsville’s community of homeowners has a reservoir of renovation and preservation knowledge and experience to share. Folks who have been there, done that, can help demystify issues, save money, reduce hassles, and improve renovation results.

Finding resources in Hyattsville

These historic renovation veterans of Hyattsville are often members of the Hyattsville Preservation Association (HPA). Homeowners in the Historic District can learn about the organization on the HPA web site, preservehyattsville.org. Among the many resources and tools available on the site are a downloadable style guide for historic homes and links leading to county, state and national organizations that support preservation activities. Indeed, between the city’s seasoned experts and the website, there is plenty to help Hyattsville homeowners achieve their maintenance, preservation or renovation goals.