The VCC helps preserve the “quaint and distinctive” character of the Vieux Carré by regulating changes to their significant features. The VCC does not prevent owners from making changes, but rather works with them to ensure that planned changes are appropriate to the character and style of their buildings.
All work undertaken on the exterior of any building, old or new, in the Vieux Carré, whether it is visible from the street or not, requires a permit from the Commission. The exterior of a building includes all elements exposed to the weather, including front, side and back walls, patios, galleries, balconies, floors, fences, signs, exterior stairs, passageways, carriageways, and sidewalks.
VCC permits are required for the following exterior work:
- Any restoration, alteration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction that affects the property or exterior of a building, if the project requires a permit from the Department of Safety & Permits
- Any project that affects the exterior, even if a permit is not required from the Department of Safety & Permits. This includes any exterior painting (including to match existing), courtyard paving, fencing, weatherboard replacement, roofing, etc.
VCC permits are required for the following interior work:
- Projects that affect the structural design and integrity of a building within the Vieux Carré
- Projects that affect the exterior of a building
To avoid unnecessary expenses the VCC highly recommends not purchasing building materials, millwork, lighting, security cameras, signage, etc. until the applicant is physically in possession of a signed VCC permit. VCC permits are not valid until physically picked up and signed for in the VCC office.
How to apply for a permit
- LOCATE the property on the Vieux Carré Ratings map to determine the architectural and historical significance rating.
- REVIEW the VCC Guidelines for work to the exterior of a property located in the Vieux Carré.
- APPLY online using the One Stop App. Note that permits specifically for VCC Paint and Security Cameras can be applied for directly through the One Stop App. Other work will likely require a permit from other Departments. In those instances use the One Stop App to apply for the Building Permit and the VCC permit will be created internally. For more information on the documents necessary for review, please refer to Submission Requirements. For a list of work exempt from permitting by Safety & Permits, please refer to the document here.
*AS OF SEPTEMBER 2014, THE VCC STAFF WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT EMAILED, FAXED, OR HAND DELIVERED APPLICATIONS. PLEASE SUBMIT ONLINE USING THE ONE STOP APP.
The VCC staff will notify you when the permit is available to be collected.
To avoid unnecessary expenses the VCC highly recommends not purchasing building materials, millwork, lighting, security cameras, signage, etc. until the applicant is phycically in possession of a signed VCC permit. VCC permits are not valid until physically picked up and signed for in the VCC office.
For more information, please review this Application Review Process and to search all permits issued by the City of New Orleans, please visit the One Stop App.
Initiating the Application
Before any exterior work can be undertaken on any property located within the Vieux Carré Historic District, the property owner, owner’s representative, lessee, architect or contractor must first make application to the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC), specifying the anticipated work and the present and proposed use and/or treatment of the property before obtaining a permit from the Commission. Applications must be submitted in OneStop.
Processing by Staff
Upon submission of the application, the Commission’s staff review the work proposed. If the staff determines that the application is for ordinary maintenance and repair or for work which conforms with adopted Commission policies for which the staff has the authority to approve, the staff issues a permit, usually within five to seven (5-7) working days. Please refer to the VCC Design Guidelines for details regarding the work staff is authorized to approve, or review the chart below for quick reference.
If the staff determines work does not conform to policies or is of a nature for which the staff lacks approval authority, the application goes to the Architectural Committee for review at its next meeting, provided that the application is received no later than two weeks prior to that meeting. This time is required for the preparation of staff reports.
Architectural Committee Review
At the Architectural Committee Meeting, members either approve applications or formulate a recommendation to the full Commission on those proposals which require Commission review and approval. Applicants will be notified in writing of Architectural Committee actions and recommendations. Please refer to the VCC Administrative Procedures for details regarding the work the Committee is authorized to approve.
Any action of the Committee may be appealed by the applicant to the Commission within thirty (30) days of the date that the VCC notifies the applicant, in writing, of its actions. The matter will be heard before the full Commission at its next monthly Commission meeting.
Full Commission Assessment
When an application goes to a full Commission meeting, after a staff presentation and public comment, the Commission votes in public to either approve, deny or defer action on the application. The applicant is notified in writing of the Commission's decision. Please refer to the VCC Administrative Procedures for details regarding the work the Commission is authorized to approve.
Any action of the Commission may be appealed by the applicant to the New Orleans City Council within thirty (30) days of the date that the Commission notifies the applicant, in writing, of its actions. When a proposed demolition is involved, the Commission usually requires that said proposal lay over for one month before taking final action.
Agendas for both Architectural Committee and Commission meetings are sent to the applicant, the property owner and the architect. Also copies of the agenda are available at the Commission's office during the week prior to the meeting or online. All Architectural Committee and Commission meetings are open to the public
Based upon the nature of most work applications, it is expected that support materials will be needed to fully explain whatever work is proposed. Support materials explain through a series of illustrations, drawings, photographs, plans and other documents the scope and purpose of the proposed project.
The submittal should clarify all aspects of the project in detail, not only to the VCC or its Architectural Committee (AC), but also to members of the public at large who frequently have interest and attend the Commission’s meetings.
Submittals need to address the extent to which the project will affect, or in any way transform the visual and/or physical character of the subject property. Also, a submittal should include any aspects or concerns of health, safety, and public welfare. After accepting a submittal, the staff will review the documents and may conduct interviews or site visits with the applicant so as to become educated and familiar with the goals of the project.
Projects that entail substantial work may require architectural drawings, and the following should be submitted:
- Documents prepared in an architectural style of presentation, sized on full-size pages measuring 24” x 36” or half size, 11” x 17”; either are acceptable.
- Bordered drawings bearing a title block containing the project name, location, name of designer/architect, date and date of revision(s).
- Application/drawings/documents clearly indicating owner of property, beneficial applicant, and the applicant if different from the owner and beneficial applicant.
- Dimensioned site plan, survey or block plats to accurately indicate property size.
- Cause for application especially if related to deficiencies or variances required (i.e. building code, ADA, NFPA regulations, etc.).
Drawings, indicating existing conditions and proposed changes in separate drawings, shall:
- be drawn to scale and with a graphic scale indicated on each;
- contain a site & roof plan showing vents, skylights, mechanical equipment, etc.;
- contain floor plans of sufficient detail;
- show façade and elevation(s) wherever any change is proposed along with adjacent structures to each side;
- show thru-building sections to interpret design intent;
- show all special details;
- show signs; and
- all structural drawings shall be stamped by an engineer licensed in the State of Louisiana.
Additional support materials should include further documents to augment that required above, such as photographs, catalogue cut-sheets, or material samples.
All aspects of work indicating any electrical or mechanical changes should be noted, including but not limited to internal venting and exhaust systems. Furthermore, all exterior lighting details, signage specifications, and/or security provisions, such as cameras, should be delineated.
Structural drawings shall indicate all aspects of foundation work including, but not limited to, any removal of existing foundations and installation of new piers, piles, footings, grade beams and slabs. Any disturbance of subsoil conditions for the above installations or removals should be shown on the structural drawings. Structural drawings shall also indicate any necessary mitigation techniques to insure structural and aesthetic integrity of any adjacent properties. Furthermore, any interior structural modifications to any building should be submitted for review, in an effort to mitigate damage to surrounding properties. Furthermore, to insure the safety of the general public, final structural designs must be sealed by the appropriate agent, confirming that the proposed methods have been reviewed by a registered professional.
Effective July 1st 2012, all submittals for any proposal to be reviewed by either the AC of the VCC MUST be submitted digitally, preferably in PDF form. Additionally, applicants are required to submit three copies of the physical documents.
Proposals submitted without digitized drawings in either jpeg or pdf format will NOT be placed on the agenda. VCC staff will NOT scan documents for any proposal or applicant. NO EXCEPTIONS. The scanned materials will be required in order to process an application. Without them, the application will be returned to the applicant until all required materials are submitted as well.
Submissions for Change of Use Hearings
In regard to applications that also relate to proposed changes of use, and in accordance with Article 8, Section 8.1 of the 1996 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance for the City of New Orleans, the VCC requires that all alterations related to the use change be documented with such a request, i.e. all exterior changes (as noted above) plus any interior changes such as floor plans, room arrangements, kitchen layout, handicapped restrooms, venting/exhaust systems, table arrangements, menus, descriptions of operations (hours, etc.) and so forth.
For a checklist of requirements please see the Submittal Requirements.
All proposed use changes must comply with the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO); refer to the Vieux Carré zoning map and CZO to determine the approved uses for each structure.
*Please note that due to the public review process and in order to provide the Commission with complete materials for a thorough understanding of any proposal, the staff will schedule the subject property application for a hearing only after all the necessary materials have been provided.
The VCC permit fees are incorporated into fees charged by the Department of Safety & Permits. The fees apply as follows:
- Permit Fee: $60 + ($5 per $1000 of work to be performed)
- Plan Review Fee: $1 per $1000 of work to be performed
- VCC Surcharge: 50% of permit fee, calculated from above items
If the proposed project does not also require a permit from the Department of Safety & Permits, it will most likely not have a VCC fee. Common work that does not charge a fee includes painting, roofing work, and minor repairs (unless a permit is necessary by Department of Public Works to close the public right of way). Fees will be charged for work started without a proper VCC permit.