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What problems could arise in historic buildings?

Historic buildings offer unique charm and significance to communities. However, they can also present some legal and financial headaches for people who wish to open businesses, renovate or lease these structures.

If you have plans to lease, buy or start construction in an historic building, then you should be aware of some possible obstacles that may arise. 

Costs of bringing it up to code

Older buildings are often outdated and do not meet current building codes, especially with regard to hurricane protection. Elevators, stairwells, plumbing and even the structure itself may need to be brought up to current standards. This responsibility can fall on new owners or tenants wishing to renovate.

Limitations in making changes

In historic buildings, you could be limited in the materials you use and the elements you can change. For instance, you may not be able to tear down more than a specific percentage of the building, or you might have to find a way to heat and cool a building without adding ductwork. A business owner may need to adjust their branding patterns to align with any limitations for signage or color schemes that may exist in an historic building.

Leasing conditions

Space in an historic building can come at a premium price, so be prepared to spend more in rent. Also, pay close attention to terms stating who is responsible for costs like utilities and renovations. Finally, be sure you understand the defined process for getting changes approved, as it could be lengthier and more complicated than you expect.


Older buildings could go hand-in-hand with ownership confusion, so it may be necessary to secure quiet titles and review any easements or boundary issues that exist.

There are ways to overcome these challenges - and minimize the expense of doing so - but it can be legally complex. As such, it is important to consult an attorney before you agree to anything in these properties to identify any potential issues or costly caveats. 

Quote for the day:

test outlined by Abraham Lincoln:  "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

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