FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Visit our About Us page to learn more about our history and our services. The Cleveland Restoration Society is the non-profit our program is operated under. We are a non-profit organization operating in Northeast Ohio, mostly focusing in Cuyahoga County. Participating cities and communities in the Heritage Home Program pay for our resources to be available for free to their homeowners based on the number of eligible homes in their community.
Until further notice, the Heritage Home Program will be working remotely. If possible, please email us at email@example.com or leave us a message at 216-426-3116.
The Heritage Home Program does not do any home repairs. We can provide contractor information; however, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to call the contractor for work to be done. Our program can offer advice on projects and help with completing them through our contractor database and low-interest rate loan for homeowners that qualify.
The Heritage Home Program is not a general contractor, nor do we have any on staff. We can provide you with contact information for general contractors, or you may be your own general contractor.
The Heritage Home Program can assist with finding resources to get the needed repairs completed. Homeowners can also use the Heritage Home Program Loan for the repairs.
The Heritage Home Program is offered in many cities throughout Cuyahoga County as well as certain cities outside the county. Please check our current list of Participating Communities to see if your city or ward is a part of our program.
The best way to add your community to our program is to speak to your local government!
If you would like an advocacy letter to send to your mayor or councilperson, we can provide one. Contact the Heritage Home Program Manager, Jessica Beam, at 216-426-3107 for more information.
Please note that the 50 year age restriction is on the age of the house, not the age of the homeowner. Our technical assistance is available for any homeowners with homes over 50 years old in a participating community.
The HHP is limited to residential properties including condominiums but not including apartment buildings or houses with more than 3 residential units. The Cleveland Restoration Society may have more resources for owners of commercial buildings.
A site visit is a free service offered to residents of participating communities. To find out if your home is in a participating community, click here.
During your site visit, a construction specialist will come to your home to discuss your rehab projects and ideas, and provide advice or guidance. You do not need to apply for the loan to take advantage of this service.
For the safety of homeowners and staff, we have options for conducting our site visits:
- Video call
- Phone call
- In-person visit
To sign up for any of the options above, click here.
You can schedule a site visit on this page.
You can also schedule a site visit over the phone by calling our office at 216-426-3116
Your site visit will be conducted by our Construction Specialist. The Heritage Home Program Construction Specialists have backgrounds in home remodeling and repair for older homes in Northeast Ohio. Their backgrounds in home remodeling are very helpful for homeowners at any stage of their projects or possible projects.
Site visits are a free service offered to homeowners in our Participating Communities.
If you live in a Non-Participating Community but would still like a site visit, there is a $50.00 fee. Contact the Heritage Home Program Manager at 216-426-3107 for information about site visits for non-participating communities.
The online system that we use to schedule site visits sends out an email reminder before your scheduled time. If you would like a call as well, please contact the Heritage Home Program office at 216-426-3116 or let the Heritage Home Program staff know when you are scheduling. We can add a reminder to our construction specialists' calendars to have them call before they head over. If you do not answer the door for your scheduled visit, they will try calling to reach you.
Our construction specialists take notes during their visit and send those notes to the Heritage Home Program office. Our Heritage Home Program Assistants take those notes and look through our small database of contractors to find names that fit each individual project. We send the contact information for the contractors out to a homeowner via email or mail (if specified).
Contractors can submit a Contractor Qualification Form to be reviewed and added to our database. We look at the references that a contractor has provided, as well as other available information about them to determine if they would be helpful to homeowners. There are contractors in our database that we have seen projects completed with, and had good reviews from homeowners for. We do not work exclusively with certain contractors, or recommend them, nor can we guarantee their work. Our database is a good starting point for homeowners that are not sure who to start reaching out to.
We recommend that homeowners ask for references and do their research into finding a good contractor for their project. We have tips for what to look for what searching for a contractor in our Program Resources.
You do not need to mention the Heritage Home Program when reaching out to contractors.
Some contractors do charge for site visits. When calling any contractor to get an estimate, ask them before they head out if they charge for site visits. They should be clear on any costs required before you bring them to your home.
Deciding on a contractor can be tricky. There are a lot of factors to think about that include the costs, timeframe, and personality. If you are not comfortable with a contractor, then it is not recommended that you hire them. They will be in or around your home for a possible extended amount of time so you want to hire someone that you are comfortable speaking with and having in or around your home. The lowest or highest cost might not be the best option, and asking contractors when they would be able to start work or what the deposit cost may be is important. Ask contractors the same questions so you can better decide who is the best fit for you.
The Heritage Home Program can review any estimates or bids that you have received. You can send the estimates or bids to the Heritage Home Program office for us to review. We look at the general costs compared to similar projects in your area as well as the detail in the estimate and if contractors have information included about permits or pay schedules.
HERITAGE HOME LOAN
To learn more about the loan process, click here. The first step is to submit an application and any bids or estimates to the Heritage Home Program office. We recommend having bids or estimates for any projects that you would like to be funded by the loan included. The more detailed the better!
Heritage Home Program staff will review your application and estimates then respond to you within 1-2 business days with next steps. We review all of the applications received before homeowners can move forward with the loan. The Heritage Home Program partners with local banks, so homeowners applying must submit their application to the Heritage Home Program office before applying at the bank.
Once your complete application and project estimates are submitted to our office, it will take our staff 1-2 business days to review. After you apply at the bank, it usually takes 30-45 days from application to signing at the bank.
Click here to learn more about the full process.
There are fees associated with the loan. There are no upfront fees paid to the Heritage Home Program or a partner bank, but the fees are rolled into the loan total to be paid as the loan is paid off. Loan fees are detailed in our information packets and may include origination fees, appraisal fees, escrow fees, and HHP Admin fees.
The Heritage Home Program Loan is approved by the Heritage Home Program and a participating bank. The funds are determined by the available equity and the anticipated increase in equity (if any) once the project is complete. The banks do an after-rehab value appraisal, looking at the current value and the bids or estimates provided to determine the after-rehab value. The banks are only lending for the projects that are included when applying, so borrowing is limited to the estimated project total. If there is enough equity, homeowners may be able to borrow a small amount more than the project total outlined in the provided estimate or bid as a contingency. If there are funds remaining in escrow after the applied for projects are complete, then those funds may be used for another project or sent back to the bank to lower the loan principal.
The Heritage Home Program Loan can only be used for upcoming home repair/renovation projects. It cannot be used to pay other loans or pay for work that has already been completed. The funds are lent by the bank to cover the projects that are outlined in the application. The funds, once approved, are sent to the Heritage Home Program to be held in escrow. A Heritage Home Program Associate will work with homeowners and their contractor(s) to release payments with a homeowner's written approval. Our program also requires that contractors pull all required permits for a project and have escrow contracts outlining the program requirements for payments. Items or projects that cannot be funded can be found in our information packets.
The Heritage Home Program Loan can be used by homeowners doing DIY projects to cover the materials cost of the loan. If you are applying for the loan to complete a DIY project, include a detailed summary of the anticipated materials costs with your application.
The Heritage Home Program Construction Specifications are the standards that we have set for projects completed on homes over 50 years old. Older homes sometimes need a little but more than current building practices for newer homes, and the Construction Specifications are there to help homeowners and contractors when working on or with older homes. Much of the information is based on our experiences with materials and the Secretary of the Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. It is very similar to the standards that design review committees use for historic districts throughout Northeast Ohio.
We do not have Interior Construction Specifications, but contractors working on interior projects must be licensed and pull permits are the municipality the home is in requires.
Contractors may not have worked with the Heritage Home Program in a while or at all, so it is possible they don't. Our work specifications are available on our website by clicking here, and we can also send digital or hard copies as well. Our work specifications align with most general building practices and the majority of estimates we see are within our specifications. The work specifications are written into the escrow contracts, so once signed by a homeowner and contractor they are working within the specifications.
The Heritage Home Program acts as an escrow agent. The funds, once approved, are sent from the bank to the Heritage Home Program to be held in escrow. The Heritage Home Program Associates work with homeowners to release funds to a contractor (or to reimburse a homeowner) with approvals in writing. We are not project managers and are not on-site during the work. The Heritage Home Program does come out to the home for an initial site visit (generally at or before a loan is signed) and for a final walkthrough at the end of a project before the final funds are released.
Homeowners can request for a Heritage Home Program Construction Specialist or Associate to visit the project while it is in process to see the work or ask questions in person if they have any concerns.
An important part of any successful project is communication between homeowners and contractors. If there is a breakdown in communication or severe issues with a project, homeowners do have steps they can take to cancel the contract or fire a contractor within the Heritage Home Program escrow contracts. If you are having trouble with a contractor, be sure to communicate with your Heritage Home Program Associate. We can assist with communication and direction.
The Heritage Home Program Loan can be used for permanent home repairs and renovations. It cannot be used to pay for work that has been completed, vinyl windows, vinyl siding, non-permanent appliances, landscaping, "luxury" items, or incompatible additions and materials. Incompatible materials include vinyl windows and siding, some composite windows, and the use of inappropriate materials for exterior changes. That can include using decking for a front porch. The Construction Specifications include details on approvable materials for our loan.