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Vintage Rehab Resources

Contractor Resources

The Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® does not make contractor referrals for rehab projects.  However, the following online resources can help you get a jump start on researching and evaluating contractors that may be right for your vintage rehab project.  You can also check out our “Making It Happen” rehab guide, which provides best practices for working with contractors and evaluating bids.  Also, if you are wondering if you need a building permit for a project, click here to find out.

  • Illinois Restoration Resources Guide – A curated list of preservation-minded contractors maintained by Landmarks Illinois. The list covers everything from architects to masonry repair to window restoration.  
  • Angie’s List – Online platform for crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses, including a variety of rehab contractors.  Note: There is a fee for using the site.
  • City of Chicago Department of Buildings – Review current lists of general,
    electrical, plumbing, and masonry contracts currently licensed by the City of Chicago.  

Financing Vintage Rehab Projects

Finding the right financing for your vintage rehab project is an important as properly prioritizing repairs and hiring the right contractors.  The Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® always recommends that you carefully research and compare financing sources based on fees, terms, technical resources, etc.  If you are a homeowner, a good place start is the bank where you keep checking and saving accounts, independent community banks serving your neighborhood and Neighborhood Lending Services, the lending subsidiary of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago.  If you are a community-minded investor, financing resources are available fromsome Chicago-area non-profits in addition to standard commercial and hard-money lenders.  Here are a few financing resources to help get you started: 

  • Neighborhood Lending Services – NLS, the lending subsidiary of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, provides affordable, fixed-interest financing to income eligible borrowers for the purchase, purchase-rehab, or rehab of owner-occupied, 1-4 units homes.  Clients undertaking rehab projects with NLS financing also receive technical support from NHS’ Construction Support and the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ®
  • Chicago Community Loan Fund – Through its Neighborhood Investor Lending Program, CCLF provides smaller scale for-profit and non-profit developers with support and financing to acquire, rehabilitate, and own 1-4 units buildings to help stabilize lower wealth communities impacted by the foreclosure crisis.  Additionally, in partnership with Elevate Energy, CCLF is offering an Energy Efficiency Loan Option for interested Neighborhood Investor borrowers.  
  • Community Investment Corporation – CIC provides a take-out term loan groups (9-units minimum) of 1-4 unit buildings already purchased and rehabbed by investors to compliment public and private redevelopment efforts in low-and-moderate income communities.  

Rehab Ready Resources

Our Rehab Ready Resources are practical, accessible guides to various rehab topics developed by the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ®, sourced from partner organizations, or reused with permission from publications like Old House Journal.

  • Making It Happen – A booklet containing best practices from the Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program ® and the Construction Services Department at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago for selecting contractors and soliciting bids for your next vintage rehab project
  • Discover Your Home’s History – Coming soon!  Even wonder about the unique story of your home?  This handy guide will walk you through the resources and steps needs to uncover this unique history.  
  • Water Water Everywhere – Managing moisture is critical to the health, safety, comfort, and durability of vintage homes.  Check out this one-sheeter for common problem areas that should be regularly monitored and promptly repaired.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose – Check out this handy guide for tips on how to incorporate reclaimed and salvaged materials into your next vintage rehab project, as well as sources for these items in the greater Chicago area.
  • Saving Sash Window – A great how-two article, republished here with permission from Old House Journal, for repairing and maintaining vintage wooden sash windows.

Greystone & Vintage Home Publications

Preservation Briefs

The Technical Preservation Services at the National Park Services publishes more than 40 different Preservation Briefs providing guidance on specific aspects of preserving, rehabilitating and restoring vintage buildings.  Below are links to the Preservation Briefs we most commonly refer to when working on projects.  You can find printer-friendly PDFs of the Preservation Briefs here.

Historic Tax Incentives

There are two primary tax incentives available for owners of eligible, historically-designated undertaking substantial home rehab projects: the State of Illinois Property Tax Incentive Freeze for Historic Residences and the 20% Federal Historic Tax Credit.  To be eligible for these incentives, a home must first be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or designated a City of Chicago Landmark.  Listing on the National Register potentially provides access to both the tax freeze and tax credit, while Chicago Landmark designation only provides access to the tax freeze.  To initially determine if your property has been officially historically designated, visit the City of Chicago’s zoning map website: type in your address and then use identify tool at left to click on your specific address, a box will pop-up with property information including historic designation.

  • State of Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program for Historic Residences – This program provides a 12 year property tax assessment freeze for owner-occupied residences one to six units in size that complete a minimum dollar value of historically-sensitive rehab. Owners of multi-unit buildings less than six units in size can access the tax credit (see below) along with the tax freeze.  The Illinois Historic Preservation agency oversees the application and review process for the tax freeze.
  • 20% Federal Historic Tax Credit – This program provides a tax credit for the historically-sensitive rehab of income producing properties.  This includes residential buildings.  Owner-occupied buildings are eligible for the tax credit, but it would only apply to costs incurred during the rehab of rental units and common spaces – that is, not the owner’s unit.  Owners of one to six unit buildings can access the tax freeze (see above) with the tax credit. The National Park Service oversees the application and review process for the tax credit.  

Friends, Partners, & Collaborators

Historic Preservation

Energy Efficiency Resources/Incentives


Masonry Repair Resources/Training

Material Salvage/Reuse

Landscape & Gardening