Virginia State Seal

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 our field offices closely monitor the project. Projects need to meet the expectations of 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.

 Photo
This dwelling was documented through a Cost Share survey of the Forestville Historic District (Shenandoah Co.), 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 Cost Share can establish a usable cultural resource database. The database facilitates the environmental review process and helps avoid costly delays for state and federal agencies and for developers. Moreover, the resulting database and accompanying report can be critical tools in supportng or developing heritage tourism.
   The survey report provides written and visual information for use in formal and general education outreach programs. A successful National Register nomination offers owners of historic properties the opportunity to pursue state and federal historic preservation tax credits. Tax credit projects can lead boost revitalization efforts in communities. Other survey projects include the creation of a scripted slide presentation for use in informing area residents of important historic community properties, and to stimulate interest in learning more about their locality's history.

When does a locality submit a proposal?
Generally, each spring DHR mails all local governments and invitation to submit Cost Share proposals. Localities have about 60 days to prepare proposals that the department will evaluate on a competitive basis. Criteria applied when evaluting a proposal includes the need for survey and other preservation activities in the applicant's area, and how comprehensive and responsive the proposal is to the particular needs of an area.     

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 contributions to their community by supporting the projects;
  • Provides the local government with an illustrated narrative report about the 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; the slide show presents a visual overview of the history and cultural resources of a community;
  • Opens eligibility to owners of historic properties for substantial tax credits for rehabilitating their historic homes and other buildings when 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 a project's scope 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 10.19.17