Buying in Bozeman’s Historic District

Posted by Emily Coombs on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021 at 7:07pm.

There is no doubt that part of Bozeman’s charm comes from its historic architecture. It is quaint neighborhoods such as the Bon Ton District, with its high style, Art Deco architecture, or the Cooper District, with Bungalows, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival style homes.

Some areas, such as the Bozeman Brewery District, have seen a resurgence of business. The Lehrkind Brewery operated here, using the railroad spur to bring in raw materials and then ship kegs of beer around Montana. Today, a mix of breweries, eateries, and some galleries make this part of town bustle. There are several historic districts in Bozeman; you can read about them in more detail here.

In addition to the beautiful homes, buying in a historic district has several benefits. Generally, buying in a historic district means you are more immune to the fluctuations of the market. The nature of the community and the neighborhood is established. You can be confident it will retain the value and character over time versus a new neighborhood that may not be as cohesive in design, materials, or structure.

There are also some things to consider when buying an older home. In Bozeman, anything in the original city limits (called the overlay) is subject to a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) when doing any renovation. The COA exists to ensure homeowners are maintaining the character of the neighborhood. If your home is in the historic district, you are subject to more scrutiny.

The city maintains a historic registry, meaning historians evaluate the buildings around town to see if there are structures worth preserving. This record is public and is referenced when people apply for the COA.

The City of Bozeman requires you to have an architect for historical renovations, which is wise. If you live in a house with historical significance, any maintenance or additions must match the character. There is a little more flexibility in auxiliary buildings.

When buying a historic home, there are some things to evaluate. The foundation is essential. Many older homes have rubble foundations, meaning stacked stone with concrete. Some of those are still good, but some are not. Another common foundation was a full unreinforced basement, where the concrete can move.

Insulation is another critical thing to check. Many homes weren’t insulated or insulated with shredded newspaper, and there could be gaps. The quality of the walls and ceiling are essential, as well as the plumbing and electrical. Check for updated wiring and the number of outlets. If you need to make improvements, there are limitations on what you can do, and it can become expensive. Also look into the utilities, such as sewer and water, to be sure there aren’t any current problems.

Fortunately, many historic homes in Bozeman have been renovated or have been well taken care of. But it’s important to do your homework beforehand to anticipate any upcoming improvements and evaluate the cost-benefit.

For more information about Historic Preservation in the City of Bozeman, check out:

https://www.bozeman.net/government/historic-preservation

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