Grants and Guidance for Character Home Renovations

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Your character home plays a significant role in your country’s history, reminding people of their past while also enhancing the value of the neighbourhood it’s in. There are many resources out there to help you get started on a renovation project that can introduce all of the modern comforts available today while respecting the home’s classic aesthetic. Here’s our overview to get you started. 


Redefining heritage is best!

Heritage and character homes are both culturally valuable and breathtakingly beautiful. Preserving their integrity while updating with a modern feel is a way to respect the past and give back to society, and gives your home the fringe benefit of looking unique and eye-catching.

You may think that restoring an old house is more expensive than just building an entirely new one, but with careful planning, you might actually be able to spend less. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation (VHF) even offers programs and grants to help ease your renovation spending:

  • Restore it Grant: helps to repair or restore the original exterior of a heritage building
  • True Colours Grant: cash grant for the painting of the original exterior in colours from the Vancouver True Colours palette, or the colours that were used in Vancouver buildings from the 1880s to the 1920s
  • House Call Grant: helps building owners in planning the maintenance or repair of their building and for development permit applications
  • Get it On the Register Grant: helps cover the application costs for a Heritage Assessment, which will put you on the city’s Heritage Register


Maintaining some style is important

Because your property is old, chances are you’re going to need to make certain repairs that weren’t around in the old days. However, you should make sure that you’re still preserving the space’s general aesthetic, else your heritage home won’t have much heritage at all. Read up and look for the best repair methods for the materials around your house. VHF has helpful resources about maintaining and conserving heritage buildings, which you can find here.


Your permit and legal responsibilities

In maintaining, repairing, and restoring your home, you also have to keep in mind the guidelines and policies that the City of Vancouver has in place. For example, the law requires owners to apply for a heritage alteration permit before making changes that would alter your property’s exterior, make a structural change to the building, or move the building somewhere else, among others. You can find the complete list of requirements here.


Types of character home renovation experts to consider

As you can tell, there are many things to think about when restoring your heritage or character home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a professional to help you. They’ll know what you need to make your house sturdy while also preserving its historic and architectural value. If you don’t know where to start, the VHF has an index of directories of people to contact here. They also suggest the following professionals to reach out to: 

  • Heritage Consultants – For advice on heritage matters, including statements of significance & conservation planning
  • Architects – For help with architectural planning services
  • Landscape Architects – For figuring out your home’s gardens, particularly on natural, cultural & historic landscape conservation & planning
  • Craft & Trade Specialists – For understanding built heritage restoration & conservation
  • Certified Energy Advisors – For offering building energy evaluations that will make your home energy efficient
  • Historians – For historical research, analysis & interpretation – who knows, they might even teach you something new about your old home!
  • Archaeologists – For archaeological assessments & impact mitigation, ensuring you preserve as much as you can without harming the property


Got questions? Reach out to us for more information, we love hearing about new and exciting projects.