Standards for Historic Structure Survey Reports

Three spiral bound architectural survey reports spread out on a table.These Standards (Effective September 30, 2019) are to be used for any historic structure survey reports submitted to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (HPO) to fulfill the requirements for identification and evaluation of properties as part of the Section 106/110, or Environmental Review process.

Depending on the federal agency for which the report is prepared and submitted to the HPO, it may be called a “Historic Structure Survey Report,” “Determination of Eligibility,” “Section 106/110 Compliance Report,” or some other title. Whatever its title, the report will need to fulfill these Standards and provide the information necessary to fully evaluate the National Register status of properties within an undertaking’s Area of Potential Effects (APE). If a project is not undertaken within 5 years of a report, an update of the survey and findings may be required.

Expand the headings below to learn more about the Standards and be sure to complete the deliverables checklist at the end. All deliverables are required for report submittal; review will not commence until all deliverables have been received. Questions? Contact the NC HPO ER Staff.


Environmental Review Branch Staff


**Please note that architecture survey reports and archaeology survey reports must be submitted separately. Archaeology survey reports must meet the Office of State Archaeology (OSA) Standards and Guidelines. For questions regarding archaeology surveys and reports, contact OSA.**

Transmittal Letter

Transmittal Letter

A transmittal letter must accompany the historic architecture survey report, revised report, or addendum submittal.
  • ER Tracking Number and Project Name

    • All incoming reports should be associated with a project that has already been submitted for environmental review and has received an HPO ER Tracking Number, for example, ER 19-1856.

    • If the project does not have an ER Tracking number it must be submitted to the Environmental Review branch before a survey report will be accepted.

    • To submit a project for Environmental Review, follow the instructions at the Project Review Checklist page.

  • Your contact information: complete address, email, and telephone number.

  • The project applicant's name (point of contact), email, and telephone number. Depending on the client, the applicant may prefer to submit the report themselves.

  • A description of the project, survey report and listing of the deliverables included in the submittal.

Report Text/Body

Report Text/Body

One hard copy and one digital copy (PDF only) of the survey report must be submitted for review and comment. 
  • Cover

    • The report cover should include the name of the project, its location, author(s), and date.

  • Management Summary/Introduction

    • The project or purpose of the report should be clearly defined.

    • A map of the APE (see mapping requirements) and description of the area should be provided.

    • Provide a table that lists each intensively-surveyed property in the report. Table headings must include: Survey Site Number (SSN), Property Name, Evaluation (NR/DOE status) and Criteria for eligibility.

    • The HPO prefers that effects not be included in the survey report. Consult with ER Branch staff prior to including effects in the report.

    • If directed by the agency/client to include effects of the undertaking in the report, include the effect for each listed or eligible property on the table described above.

  • Historic background/Context

    • Should include time periods and information relevant to the area and types of properties being surveyed.

    • At a minimum architectural context at the county level should be provided. Depending on the APE, additional more localized context may be warranted.

    • Architectural context will help to strengthen eligibility evaluations. Comparable properties, which are required, can be discussed in this section and referred back to in later property evaluation/assessments.

    • Consult the Practical Guide for Recording Historic Resources for guidance on expectations of survey work conducted in North Carolina.

  • Property Evaluations/Assessments

    • Any property 50 years old or older within the APE (typically a 0.5 mile radius unless otherwise set by FCC for cell towers or determined through consultation with HPO) should be surveyed, assessed, and its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places evaluated.

    • Evaluations must be supported with discussion of no less than 2-3 comparable properties (where feasible).

    • Based on property type, comparable properties should be chosen from the local level first, expanded to county if needed; and, finally to the region, if finding comps proves particularly difficult. See photographs section for comparable photo instructions. The most helpful comps are ones already listed on the NRHP, determined eligible for listing (DOE), on the State Study List (SL), or designated in some way as historic.

    • Assessment Template Coming Soon!



GIS data should be created for all project reports and submitted in a digital database format.
  • An Esri geodatabase or shapefile(s) is preferred, although other commonly used geographic vector data file types – such as KML and DXF – are acceptable.

  • GIS data should be included for every individually surveyed resource (as points) and every surveyed district (as polygons) - regardless of whether a Determination of Eligibility is made for them; boundaries of properties recommended as eligible (as polygons); and the APE (as a polygon).

  • Those without the ability to create geospatial data (via GIS software, Google Earth, or the like) should contact the HPO for an alternative method of satisfing the spatial data requirement.

  • GIS attribute tables for surveyed resources and districts need not contain every field identified within the Microsoft Access Project Database (described below). However, the tables should, at a minimum, include a field containing the SSN to allow database linking.

  • There are no field requirements for the APE attribute table.

  • HPO prefers that GIS data be created using the WGS 1984 coordinate system or projected to the NAD 1983 North Carolina State Plane coordinate system.

  • HPO will provide baseline historic resource GIS data (point and polygon locations for previously recorded individual resources and historic districts) for a given project area upon request.  

  • Monthly extractions of the HPO GIS datasets – for the entire state – are also available for download at any time from the HPO GIS Maps & Data webpage. Click the link to view our data download options. HPO GIS Data Downloads

For mapping assistance, contact Andrew Edmonds at or 919-814-6592.

Survey Site Forms and Database

Survey Site Forms and Database

A digital copy of the updated Survey Database data must be submitted with the report. A hard copy of each of the Survey Site forms (Property Survey Reports) created or updated during the survey must be printed from the completed database. 
  • Consultants for projects for which there are previously recorded properties within the APE should request a project database which includes existing database records for those properties. The consultant will update and populate existing records as well as create new records for newly recorded properties.

  • Consultants for projects with no previously recorded properties and only a few newly recorded properties may use the empty, generic Project Survey Database (2021) (available in ACCDB or MDB file format).

  • If the APE has no previously recorded properties but includes many newly recorded properties, the consultant may request a customized project database with default values for county, town, quad, road names, and other fields that may facilitate data entry.

  • The populated database MUST be submitted with the report and include every property covered in the report.

  • Instructions for data entry can be found in the How to Populate the HPO Historic Property Data Entry Form (April 2021) manual.  At a minimum, database records shall include:

    • The survey site number (SSN) provided by the HPO.

    • Property Name (John Q. Public House, XYZ Company Building, Sweet Hope Baptist Church, etc.). If a specific name is not known, the generic property type is an acceptable alternative: House, Commercial Building, Church, Barn, etc.  

    • Street address or location

    • A construction date or circa date (date field) and brief description (narrative summary field).

    • The “Actions” record should be completed for all properties with author’s name, month and year, and project name.  Project databases customized by the HPO will include this information (except month) as default values in the Actions record.

  • A Property Summary Report - also known as the Survey Site Form - for every property, along with the digital photo proof sheet. (The Property Summary Report is generated and printed from the database.  Multiple reports can be printed at once from the Reports section of the database menu.)
  • Hard Copies must be single-sided and collated with the photo proof sheets. Property Summary Reports should NEVER be fastened together using staples or bound in the report unless expressly instructed to do so by HPO ER staff.

For Project Survey Database assistance, contact Andrew Edmonds at or 919-814-6592.

Survey Site Numbers (SSN)

Survey Site Numbers (SSN)

SSNs must be assigned to ALL properties in the report and used in the submitted database.
  • When referencing SSNs, use the standard convention, two (2) letter county abbreviation and four (4) numeral property number.  Include leading zero(s), such as WA0003, CD1589, or PT0258 - but no spaces.

  • To request SSNs for newly recorded properties, submit a spreadsheet with property name, address, town or vicinity, pin ID, and author’s temporary ID number(s). Include a map of the identified properties with this request. Include any properties already assigned SSNs in the spreadsheet.

  • All districts or neighborhoods will be assigned a SSN, if not already assigned; including expansions to existing districts.

  • Properties moved from their originally recorded location require a new survey site number for the new location.

  • Do not create individual site folders unless instructed to do so by HPO file room staff.

**SSNs cannot be changed without the prior approval of HPO’s Chandrea Burch. This is especially important, if a draft report was previously submitted to HPO**

For SSN or file room assistance, contact Chandrea Burch at or 919-814-6593.



Digital photo proof sheets (printed on bright white paper; no less than 241b weight) and the original photo files (JPEG) must be submitted for ALL properties included in the report. A Property Summary Report must be printed from the completed database to accompany the proof sheets.
  • Surveyed Structure Photos

    • Photos used in the assessment of a structure should clearly show each elevation of the property, as well as any architectural elements or details that exhibit distinctive historic character.

    • Outbuildings that may contribute to a property's significance must also be documented.

    • If the consultant is unable to access the property, photographs taken from the public right-of-way are acceptable but only if they show enough detail to make an accurate evaluation. It must also be noted in the evaluation that the surveyor was unable to access the property and therefore could not take the HPO preferred photographs. 

  • Comparable Properties Photos

    • As previously discussed, comparable properties are required. Photos of these properties should be taken during survey. 

    • Some property types may have very few comparables, which may also be an unreasonable distance away from the APE for the surveyor to travel. In general, if a comparable property is more than a county away, or at some great distance, the surveyor is not required to physically visit and record the property. They are however still required to provide recent photographs of the property. This may include images found through online map street-views, realty websites, county tax records, and others. Source and date of the photograph must be included.  

  • Photograph file names should be named using the format described in HPO digital photo policy

  • Prepare printed photo proofs sheets for each property. Submit the images for each property in separate folders on the CD. (ID0456, ID0455, ID0457, etc.). Collate photo proof sheets with printed site forms.

    Deliverables Checklist

    Deliverables Checklist

    All deliverables listed below must be submitted in order for a report, revised report, or addendum, to be accepted and processed. Missing deliverables will cause a delay in review and comment timelines.  

    Digital Copy

    Provide digital deliverables on a single CD. If data is too large, burn photographs to a separate disc. Thumb/flash drives cannot be accepted without prior approval from HPO ER Staff. Separate digital deliverables into their own folders. A template of the expected CD - with sample files, folders, and pdf instructions - can be downloaded from here (38 MB zipped file).

    • Full copy of report in PDF format.

    • GIS Data/Databases

    • Survey Site Database

    • Photographs - JPEG preferred. Files should be labeled according to HPO Policy and organized into subfolders by property, using the SSN as the folder label. 


    Hard Copy

    See the table below for physical submittal addresses. Be sure to use the address appropriate to your chosen delivery method, as submittals may become delayed or lost if addressed incorrectly.

    • Transmittal Letter

    • Full copy of report

    • Photo proof sheets

    • Site Forms/Property Summary Reports

    By US Postal Service: By FedEx, UPS, or courier:
    Renee Gledhill-Earley
    State Historic Preservation Office
    4617 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699-4617
    Renee Gledhill-Earley
    State Historic Preservation Office
    109 East Jones Street, Room 258
    Raleigh, NC 27601


    Standards Page revised April 15, 2021

    Associated Files