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Some Common Questions About Landmarks Commission Review 

Will the Landmarks Commission make me spend a lot more money than I can Afford?

The Landmarks Commission is sensitive to the ever-increasing costs of all construction projects. When alternative design solutions exist, cost is a factor that is weighted very carefully. In many cases, the preservation approach is the less expensive alternative because preservation encourages maintenance and repair of the original fabric rather than replacement with new materials.

Does the Landmarks Commission review projects that will not be visible from the street?

Yes, the Landmarks Commission reviews all projects that will change the appearance of the building, whether visible from the street or from a neighbor's backyard.

Can the Landmarks Commission dictate what color I can paint my house?

The Landmarks Commission does not have the authority to review paint colors. It also does not review roofing colors. If you would like advice on the proper paint or roofing colors for your house, the Landmarks Commission staff would be happy to assist.

Who built my house, when was it built, and who was the architect?

The City is undertaking a survey of historic buildings throughout Madison, which includes basic historical information on many of the houses in Madison's historic districts. Call the Landmarks Commission staff to see if research has been conducted on your house. The staff can also give you ideas on other research sources.

Are there are financial incentives for rehabilitating my historic building?

The most important financial incentives are the state and national tax credit programs.  For more information see the tax credit sections on this site.

The City of Madison also provides financial assistance for renovating the facades of commercial buildings in many of Madison's commercial districts. for facade renovations in our main commercial districts.  For more information on these grants, see, or call Craig Wilson at 266-6557.

The City of Madison has home owner's assistance available for families of low and moderate income.  For more information call Craig Wilson at 266-6557.

Where can I get more information about techniques for renovating my house?

The Landmarks Commission staff is happy to advise owners on old house maintenance and rehabilitation. The most valuable printed source of information is the monthly publication, The Old House Journal. A complete set of back issues is on file at the Madison Public Library, as are indices and The Old House Journal's Restoration Directory, a compilation of renovation products and services.  For more information, see

Can I sandblast my house to remove old paint or dirt?

The Madison General Ordinances prohibit sandblasting or other abrasive methods of removing paint and dirt from historic buildings. Sandblasting not only removes old paint and dirt, but also removes the hard outside layer of the masonry wall, creating a pitted surface that will attract more moisture and dirt and hasten the deterioration of the building. The Landmarks Commission staff can assist you in selecting a cleaning and/or paint removal method that will not damage the exterior walls of the building.

How can I find a designer or contractor who will understand old house renovation?

The Landmarks Commission staff does not recommend specific contractors. Your best bet is to ask friends and neighbors who have had work done.

City of Madison
Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development