The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Why the Prices of Houses in Historic Districts are Higher Than Most

    Why the Prices of Houses in Historic Districts are Higher Than Most

    The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) published a study detailing how the designation of historic districts in the city has affected home prices. The IBO found that prices for homes in historic districts have been consistently higher than those outside historic districts. In the report's introduction, the IBO evaluates the relationship between historic districts and the correlation of higher property values.

    Aesthetic Guarantees

    Potential drivers of higher home prices in historic districts are the guarantee that neighboring homes will remain largely unchanged as the exteriors are protected and federal tax benefits can also be utilized to rehabilitate the historic homes to incentivize homeowners to maintain their properties. In other areas, a buyer could purchase a valuable home only to see other houses on the block torn down or dramatically altered later, changing the look and feel of the neighborhood and theoretically depressing the value of any remaining homes.

    In a historic district, all homes are held to similar requirements and drastic changes to the neighborhood are less of a threat. While the IBO mentions that some homeowners fear the loss of property rights that occur in a historic district, their report shows that those restrictions don't negatively impact home values.

    Tax Benefits

    In many cases, federal tax benefits exist for the purchasing or rehabilitation of homes in historic districts. This incentive not only makes historic districts more attractive to buyers but may also increase the value of the property for resale. These tax benefits should be partially capitalized into the price of the historic property.

    Neighborhood Quality

    The aesthetic and charm of a historic neighborhood gives buyers a sense of quality, something that might be lacking in neighborhoods with mixed housing. Districts that are important to a community's history are more likely to be preserved and may represent a specific style or styles of architecture making it more attractive to some buyers. 

    The report's conclusion notes that while the findings support a correlation between home prices and inclusion in a historic district, "there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that districting itself causes higher prices". However, there are some compelling reasons to believe that homes in historic districts will maintain value despite the restrictions that property owners in those district face. Based on this study, properties in historic districts have increased in price at a higher rate than properties not included in historic districts, therefore property value is more likely to appreciate in a historic district.

    For information on the preservation and restoration of historic homes in New York, contact Scott Henson Architect.

  • How Having a Green Roof Can Reduce the Effect of Heat Islands

    How Having a Green Roof Can Reduce the Effect of Heat Islands

    Changes in temperatures can be driven by the development of roads, infrastructure, and large buildings in a small area. Did you know that a “heat island” can be formed by replacing natural vegetation with concrete and urban structures, making a metropolitan area warmer than its surrounding areas? These elevated temperatures during warmer seasons create an increased demand for cooling solutions directly affecting your energy bill.

    How a Heat Island Affects Your Energy Bill 

    Cooling demand in cities is high during the heat island’s hottest seasons. To beat the island heat, engineers developed green roofs to reduce cooling costs in homes and offices. Green roofs have been popular for decades, mainly in European cities and are now becoming more common in the US.

    There are two types of green roofs:

    Extensive Green Roof

    Extensive green roofs feature a thin substrate layer and moss layer vegetation. Known mostly as 'eco-roofs' they are generally chosen for their low maintenance and ability to be self-sustaining. Hundreds of plants can be grown with little maintenance and the vegetation replaces tiles and other conventional roof coverings. Herbs and grasses can be a supplement with a non-permanent irrigation system. Swarthmore College’s David Kemp Hall and the Bronx County Courthouse are great examples of extensive green roofs.

    Intensive Green Roof

    Intensive green roofs feature advanced irrigation systems that require professional maintenance. The roof is characterized by different vegetation from small trees to herbaceous plants, they offer more options for plants providing greater landscape design potential and increased biodiversity. Cruise ships, Chicago’s City Hall and Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature MuseumPeggy Notebaert Nature Museum, are good examples of intensive green roofs.

    The Green Roof Advantage

    Some advantages of having green roofs are:

    • This roof works as a super insulator by reducing cooling expenses inside the building.
    • The building can hold in more heat in winter and keep out the heat in summer.
    • Reduction of noise pollution as the plants and soil combine to absorb and prevent outside noise.
    • Aesthetic value through landscape design, providing shade and food for insects and birds.
    • Durability as the plants and soil mixture guards the waterproof membrane against high heat and direct sunlight.
    • More oxygen and less carbon monoxide emitted in the air. The vegetation collects carbon monoxide and refills the atmosphere with oxygen helping to reduce carbon emissions.

    Green Roof Installation Costs and Maintenance

    The EPA approximate installation charges are $10 per square foot for the extensive roof. An intensive roof is approximately $25 per square foot. Yearly maintenance charges for either roof per square foot can range between 75 cents to $1.50 based on the types of plants chosen and the amount of irrigation, fertilization and maintenance required.

    EPA Study on the Environmental Effect of Green Roofs 

    The EPA study shows green roofs mitigate the heat island effect, reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and helps reduce energy costs. Methodologies are laid out using free tools created by EPA to assess the many benefits of green roofs. Regulatory mandates and voluntary incentives are ways cities pursue green roof implementation, and a long list of cities and communities have already adopted them.

    Beat the island heat with a green roof. Contact us for more details on sustainability.