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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Survey & Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it work?
A locality competes to participate in the program by submitting a proposal to survey historic properties, prepare national register nominations, or develop preservation plans for its jurisdiction. The department will match the amount of money the locality is willing to commit for the project. Department staff will assume the administrative burden of the project by hiring a consultant to do the work and, through its field offices, closely monitor the project to ensure it meets the needs and expectations of both the locality and the department.

How long has the program been available to Virginia localities?
The cost share program was launched in 1991, with over 100 localities participating to date.

This dwelling was one of the buildings documented through a Cost Share survey of the Forestville Historic District in Shenandoah Co. Forestville is one of the most well-developed and best-preserved mill villages in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

How does the program assist local governments?
The Code of Virginia directs each jurisdiction to develop a comprehensive plan and to update it every five years. Additional legislation calls for each locality to incorporate cultural resources into its comprehensive plans. Surveys conducted under this program can go a long way toward establishing a usable cultural resource database. The database facilitates the environmental review process and helps avoid costly delays for both state and federal agencies and for developers. Moreover, the resulting database and accompanying report can be critical tools in developing heritage tourism. The survey report provides written and visual information for use in both formal and general education outreach programs. National register nominations offer the opportunity for owners of historic properties to use the state and federal preservation tax credits, which can lead to community revitalization. Survey projects include the creation of a scripted slide presentation for use throughout the area to inform residents of important historic properties in their community and to stimulate interest in learning about their locality’s history.

When does a locality submit a proposal?
Generally a mailing goes out to all local governments in the spring of each year inviting proposals from local governments. Localities have about 60 days to prepare proposals that the department will evaluate on a competitive basis. The criteria for the evaluation include the need for survey and other preservation activities in that particular area, comprehensiveness, and responsiveness of the proposal.     

How long does the process take?
Evaluation of the proposals usually takes about a month. During the following two months, the department works closely with the selected local governments to develop a scope of work and advertises for consultants to carry out the projects, using the Request for Proposal (RFP) method. The scope of work calls for at least two public meetings in the locality, along with ongoing dialogue with county, city, or town officials who have been designated as contacts by the local government. The consultants’ proposals are evaluated and a contract award is made. The general time frame for completing each project is 15 months from the time a consultant is selected.

How does a successful cost share project benefit a locality?
A Cost Share project:

  • Stimulates a community’s interest in its cultural resources—historical, architectural, and archaeological;
  • Complements planning information for the locality;
  • Offers an opportunity for interested volunteer organizations and their members to make a substantive contribution to their community by supporting the projects;
  • Provides the local government with an illustrated narrative report with a history of the locality and a comprehensive list of historic properties;
  • Results in a scripted slide show for use by local groups and organizations and in public schools that presents a visual look at the history and cultural resources of a community;
  • Makes owners of historic properties eligible for substantial government tax credits for rehabilitating their historic homes and other buildings in cases where historic districts are successfully nominated to the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places.

What are some of the typical total costs for a Cost Share project?

  • $15,000–$18,000: Covers a survey of about 150 historic properties representing a select number of historical themes, maps showing all properties more than 50  years of age, an illustrated report, electronic data and photographs for each surveyed property, a scripted slide presentation, and two public meetings for the community.
  • $18,000–$21,000: Covers a survey of 175 buildings in a town or city and the preparation of a National Register nomination for a historic district.
  • $24,000–$28,000: Covers a survey of 200 buildings, including architectural data, maps and photographs—with a comprehensive illustrated report, a scripted slide presentation, maps identifying all properties more than 50 years old, and electronic data.
  • $25,000–$30,000: Covers an intensive archaeological survey assessment of a county or city and a draft preservation plan.
  • $40,000–$45,000: Covers a survey of 250 architectural properties and an archaeological survey of approximately 300 acres in areas of high development potential, maps indicating all properties more than 50 years old, a scripted slide presentation, and a complete illustrated report.

These costs are estimates only and should only be used as a general guideline. The department does not guarantee the prices but is willing to work with the local governments to modify budgets or scopes of work to assure a mutually satisfactory product.

In most cases, the local government provides at least one half of the cash for these projects, but DHR will entertain all proposals, regardless of the amount of local match offered. Local portions are often supplemented with funds from local historical societies and other private entities. Project proposals can be enhanced when local governments can offer office space, lodging, use of government vehicles, computers, or volunteer hours. However, in-kind services cannot be substituted for the cash contribution.

For further information regarding the Cost Share Program, contact Blake McDonald at (804) 482-6086.

 Updated 5.5.17