Restore The Charm & Revive The Bottom Line: Tax Credits for Historic Restoration

Boston’s charm is, in part, due to the historic homes and buildings that line the streets, yet maintaining this charm is much more difficult than it might initially appear. Restoration of historic buildings is a specialized area of construction and one that contains many challenges that are often unique to the building in question. 

Often, the biggest challenge is establishing the root cause of a  problem in a historic building’s structure, especially in a city rich with recent and significant infrastructure development. The complexity increases further when developers seek to be true to the original design by keeping materials and techniques used during initial construction. Once the source of the issue is identified, one can arrive at a solution in two ways: (1) use a tried and tested methodology or, (2) innovate in an attempt to establish a new solution. The former is not R&D, the latter is worth further investigation. 

The need for innovation is often caused by the limited existence of a perfect solution that meets the specific challenges such as the site conditions, the structural properties of the building, construction regulations, and restoration principles that need to be adhered to. 

Restoration and innovation are not typically associated with each other, but there is a significant innovation performed in this area. Broadly speaking, you can consider restoration as preserving historical structures; extending the design life of structures; maintaining the desired design performance of a structure or bringing the structure up to its current design performance levels or building codes.

From a construction point of view, we can define restoration as a process where a building is returned to its original condition, whereas renovation is the process where a building is renewed by fixing what’s already present and in some cases, adding new components. Let’s take a stroll through some local projects 

Case Study – North Bennet Street School – Boston, MA

North Bennet Street School

The North Bennet Street School renovation project required interior renovations, base building system upgrades, window replacements, and exterior façade restoration. The renovation of the historic buildings also needed to be in accordance with multiple state and federal regulations and standards. Unique solutions were undertaken including utilizing BIM modeling to model the proposed MEP systems to facilitate clash detection. Mitigation strategies were developed to minimize noise, dust, vibration, odor, and other related disruptions to neighbors within the North End community. Multiple processes were developed in the project’s early stages to identify existing conditions such that potential clashes would be resolved digitally prior to the construction phase of the project. The outcome, a new home for The North Bennett Street School that offers ample space for trade programs plus gathering space for the community, all within a beautifully restored historic setting.

Case Study – Old Chapel, Amherst, MA

Old Chapel at UMass Amherst Restoration

The 135-year old church on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst was a restoration project where innovation was required in order to restore the building and make it accessible to the public once again. The project team encountered a number of technical challenges where experimentation was conducted in order to resolve the challenges presented. One concern was that the building was not compliant with building and life safety codes, so the engineering team focused on revamping the site as a whole while keeping in mind the unique structural material of the church, a granite, and sandstone structure. Additionally, sustainability features were added such as energy-efficient windows and an exhaust air recovery that have contributed to a LEED Gold certification. During the demolition of some structural components, structural integrity needed to be kept in mind. The demolition brought upon issues such as the temporary shoring and beam replacement as well as the need to lower the basement slab in order to fit the new mechanical system but also had to abide by depth restrictions. Continuous revisions to the original designs of different systems were done by the project team in order to satisfy the project schedule and constructability. Ultimately the $21M project serves as an example of how aspects of historic preservation and sustainability can be combined and the historic building has now been restored as a centerpiece of the campus.

More often than not historic renovations or restoration will require extensive experimentation with new processes or techniques, and these processes often come with a hefty price tag. It is worth considering if this activity, and the associated expenses, can be considered for the R&D tax credit. You will be pleasantly surprised with the monetary value it will provide to your business. 

For more information and to see how Leyton can help you, contact Maggie Crowley - - 617-712-6759

Contributor Bio


The construction, design and development industry is continually innovating, yet it is massively under-claiming a lucrative tax incentive – The research and development R&D Tax Credit.

Leyton, the leading R&D Tax Credit Consulting firm for this industry, maximizes the benefit available to this sector. Every year, we help thousands of clients globally to improve their business performance through R&D tax credits and government funding.

Our industry-specific team of highly experienced tax attorneys, engineers and architects provide innovative and sustainable strategies to save our clients’ time and generate a tax benefit. This is achieved by adapting to our clients’ environment and timeline, making Leyton’s service minimally disruptive and highly beneficial. We follow a clear, proven methodology built on tested know-how and in full compliance with current legislation.

Leyton has more than 9,000 clients globally, served from 25 offices worldwide, with a range of companies from start-ups to multi-national organizations.

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