Certificate of Appropriateness (COA)

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Historic Development and Landmarks Prerequisites Approvals or Permits Issued Key Steps in the Process Submittal Requirements Additional Information Expected Processing Time Fees Next Steps

Historic Development and Landmarks

Historic designation is designed to protect and enhance the existing character of the community. Through historic district overlay zoning, an area of a community neighborhood is protected from unmanaged change by a review process based on established Design Guidelines.

Historic landmark designation protects individual sites of significance. Any exterior change within a General Historic Overlay District (HOD-G) or Streetside Historic Overlay District (HOD-S) or to a Raleigh Historic Landmark must receive a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) prior to beginning the work, regardless of other required city permits.

  • Minor Work COA applications are reviewed and approved by staff.
  • Major Work COA applications are reviewed by the COA Committee of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission in a quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing held once per month. 
  • COA meeting dates and deadlines: The application deadline for Major Works is 30 business days prior to the meeting of the COA Committee. Staff reports are prepared in advance of the meeting and distributed with the agenda.
  • Major Work COA cases and decisions are on the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) Cases page. 


The application must be for exterior work involving a Raleigh Historic Landmark or property in a Historic Overlay District. To determine if a property is located within a Historic Overlay District or is a Raleigh Historic Landmark, use the iMAPS web application.

The layers to activate are the General Historic Overlay District (HOD-G), Streetside Historic Overlay District (HOD-S), and Raleigh Historic Landmarks.

Approvals or Permits Issued

  • Certificate of Appropriateness

Key Steps in the Process

  1. Read the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts and Landmarks to ensure the proposed work complies with them PRIOR to applying for a project.
  2. Applicants are encouraged to consult with staff and review the Certificate of Appropriateness List of Work to determine whether his or her project is classified as "minor work" or "major work.”
  3. Applications are made, and fees paid using the Permit and Development Portal. The application form, color photographs, and written description are required attachments.
  4. After submission through the portal staff will make an initial review to determine completeness and if any additional information is required to make a decision. A delay in review time may occur if additional documentation is required.
  5. Minor Work applications are approved by historic preservation staff upon determining that the proposed work meets the Design Guidelines for Raleigh Historic Districts and Landmarks, or after working with the applicant to modify the project to meet these guidelines. After approval, staff will contact the applicant regarding pick-up of a copy of the approved application and the blue placard form of the COA. The applicant must then post this placard in public view while performing the approved work. Any minor work application that staff is unable to approve due to conflict with the Design Guidelines must be converted to a Major Work application to be reviewed by the COA Committee.
  6. Major Work applications are placed on the next COA Committee agenda, based upon which COA application deadline date they meet. The applicant receives a copy of the meeting agenda and staff report at least 10 days before the meeting and will have a public notice sign posted on the property. The owners of properties within 100 feet of the subject property will be sent a letter and agenda as their notification of the hearing. Notice of the meeting is also published as a legal ad in the newspaper.
  7. Staff typically will visit the property as part of the review process. Members of the COA Committee also visit the property as part of their review.
  8. At the COA Committee meeting, the applicant and any other parties who wish to speak do so when the case is called during the evidentiary portion of the quasi-judicial hearing. The COA Evidentiary Hearing Procedure describes the process for the quasi-judicial portion of the meeting. The COA Committee then decides to approve, approve with conditions, defer (usually to provide the applicant an opportunity to gather additional information supporting his/her application), or deny the application.
  9. After the meeting, the applicant will receive the following: a letter stating the decision that was made, a draft of the Certified Record for the application, and the COA approval placard, if the committee approved the application without conditions. If a Major Work is approved with conditions that some items be reviewed and approved by staff, all of the items to be reviewed should be submitted at the same time in one package rather than provided piecemeal, which can lengthen the process considerably and result in additional re-review fees. If the approval includes conditions to be completed prior to the issuance of permits, the applicant must act to meet these conditions before the COA approval placard is released. The placard must be posted in public view while the approved work is being performed.

Submittal Requirements

Type Description
Required for Submittal
Required for Some Projects
  • Scaled drawing (See sample) - Show existing and proposed; Use accurate measurements. Note: Not needed for changing paint color or re-roofing
  • Description of materials/material samples
  • Dimensioned plan, elevation, and detail drawings (existing and proposed)
  • Detailed manufacturers information for new items to be used (doors, windows, etc.) and material samples
  • Tree protection plan
  • Paint Color Schedule
  • Major Work requires 10 hard copies after the initial staff review
  • Major Work requires addressed, stamped envelopes. Use the UDO Mailing List Generator to determine the addresses.
Recommended for a Successful Review
  • Photographs of completed work similar to the proposed project within the district

Expected Processing Time

  • Applications for Minor Work generally take 10 business days upon receipt of complete application to process.
  • Applications for Major Work usually take between 30 to 60 business days to process, depending upon the complexity of the project and whether or not the application is detailed enough that conditions for further staff review are not placed upon the approval. In rare exceptions where an applicant has difficulty fulfilling conditions or supplying information needed by the committee to make a decision, this time period may be extended up to 180 days.


  • Application fees are due at the time of submittal.
  • Submittals are made using the Permit and Development Portal  
  • Development Fee Guide provides specific fees associated with the defined project type (minor work, major work, additions greater than 25% of building square footage, new building, demolition).
  • Re-review fees for Major Work applications requiring more than one staff review of condition fulfillment materials are required to be paid prior to issuance of the COA approval placard. 

Next Steps

Apply for appropriate building permits

Lead Department:
Planning and Development
Service Categories:
Historic Preservation