Documentation Requirements for Certification Applications

diagram of a photo key
Example of a photo key


Applications must include photographs documenting the appearance and condition of the building’s exterior, interior, site and environment prior to the start of rehabilitation (Parts 1 and 2) and after rehabilitation is complete (Part 3). Where such documentation is not provided, review and evaluation cannot be completed, resulting in denial of the requested certification.

Photographs must be clear and must have sufficient resolution to show the details required for review of rehabilitation work. Photographs must be in color and taken at a high resolution.

Applications with photographs that are not adequate for review will be placed on hold, and applicants will need to submit better quality photographs before NPS can complete review of the application.

Number of photographs

Applicants must use their judgment as to how many photographs adequately "tell the story" of their building. Large or complex projects often require more photographs to illustrate the various elements and areas the building and site. In all cases, applications must include photos that fully document the exterior and the interior of the historic building as well as its site and environment.

Format of photos

Applicants have two options for submission of photo documentation. For either option, applicants must submit a photo key as a separate PDF file.

Option 1: Photos are contained in a PDF file with no more than two photos per page. Each photo must be at least 4” x 6” in size. The property name, address, date of photos, and application part (i.e., Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Amendment) must be listed at the top of each page. The photo number (labeled according to a Photo Key) and caption must be listed under each photo. The caption must include the view shown (e.g., north side) and a description of the view (e.g., plaster damage in dining room, north wall). There is not a limitation on the number of photos that can be contained in the PDF file.

Option 2: NPS will accept individual photo files, limited to no more than 20 JPEG or TIFF files for a submission. Only JPEG and TIFF file formats will be accepted. Individual photo files must be saved within their own folder and named according to the NPS Naming Conventions. This option works best for small projects and / or small buildings that can be fully documented in 20 photos. If 20 individual photos are not sufficient to fully document the building, the applicant will be required to submit the photos in a PDF file.

Photos must be keyed to both the description of proposed work in the application and photo keyed plans of the building and site. The photo key must be a separate PDF file.

See the Historic Preservation Certification Application Instructions and Electronic Submission of Certification Applications for additional information on photo requirements.

Architectural Drawings

Drawings or sketches are required for proposed work to show planned alterations or new construction. They must be sufficiently detailed to show existing wall configurations and anticipated changes. Documentation should include floor plans and, where necessary, sections and elevations. Dimensions and notes must be clearly legible. For small projects, sketches may suffice. All drawings and sketches must be numbered and keyed to the application narrative.

Do not include unnecessary drawings. Typically, mechanical, plumbing and electrical plans generally do not contain information that is pertinent to this review. However, the placement and size of these features often impacts the character of historic buildings. A detailed description of the location, size, and finish of these features should be included in the narrative. SHPO staff can assist with the determination as to what drawings would be helpful in a particular project.

Where replacement windows are proposed, applicants must demonstrate that the existing historic windows are deteriorated beyond repair. Detailed drawings of both the historic and the new windows must be submitted with the Part 2 application. Drawings must include the elevations and vertical and horizontal sections showing the windows in relationship to the wall assembly. Additional information is available in Documentation Requirements for Proposed Window Replacement.

Architectural plans and drawings must be flattened and submitted as PDFs in order to reduce file size and facilitate faster uploading and downloading.

The quantity of materials submitted in electronic format should generally be the same as that submitted with hard-copy applications prior to the August 2023 transition to electronic submission and review. Drawings are not a substitute for the detailed description of the scope of work in the application narrative. Applicant teams should reduce drawings to only the appropriate and necessary level of information, supplementing the written narrative.

See Electronic Submission of Certification Applications for additional information on drawing requirements.

Maps and Site Plans

A map of the historic district, clearly identifying the lot on which the building is located, is required in Part 1 of the application. If certification is being sought for one or more of a group of buildings that are listed together in the National Register or seeking a preliminary determination of eligibility, a site plan of the group is necessary.

Each map or site plan must be an individual PDF.

Last updated: May 14, 2024