Documentation Requirements

Complete documentation—including photographsdrawings, and maps and site plans—are required for review of Historic Preservation Certification Applications.

Please note that photographs and other materials submitted with an application become the property of the National Park Service and may be used in publications and informational materials about the tax incentives program.


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.

diagram of a photo key
Example of a photo key

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.

Labeling photographs

Photographs must be labeled with the following information:

  • Building name and/or address
  • View shown (e.g., north side)
  • Description of the view (e.g., plaster damage in dining room, north wall)
  • Date taken

Photographs must be numbered and keyed to both the description of proposed work in the application and photo keyed plans of the building and site.

Clarity of photographs

Photographs must be clear and must have sufficient resolution to show the details required for review of rehabilitation work. Photographs must be:

  • In color;
  • Taken at a high resolution;
  • Printed on photographic, not photocopy, paper, and
  • Printed at least 4” x 6” in size.

Format of photographs

Photographs must be printed. Photocopied photographs (black and white or color), instant photographs, and photographs smaller than 4” x 6” are not accepted.

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.


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. All drawings and sketches submitted with the application should be numbered and should be keyed to the application narrative.

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.

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.

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.

Last updated: September 19, 2022