Heritage home enthusiast Nick Russell stands outside his Toronto Street home.

For the love of heritage homes

Heritage house enthusiast Nick Russell discusses the good and bad of purchasing an old home.

You’ve had that dream.

Driving past the old house, somewhat neglected but with all those interesting old features: stained glass, wood floors, dormer windows.

What if you bought it, fixed it up, returned it to its former glory? Not just a home but a unique historic home.

Then the questions start.

Will it be too expensive? What renovation challenges will we face? What are some hidden problems lurking we may not know about?

What does a heritage designation mean?

Can we do the work ourselves or will we need expensive contractors?

Victoria resident Nick Russell, a heritage home enthusiast, lives in a Toronto Street house built in 1891 that he changed from sad to stunning.

He’s an advocate of of older homes, attracted by the ambience and atmosphere of such structures.

A few of the features that Russell enjoys in older homes are the high ceilings, large windows, pocket doors and original fixtures.

He is especially drawn to old window glass with “imperfections that creates a slightly distorted look, an almost magical view” of the world.

He is also aware of the problems that a buyer can face when purchasing an older home. He advised to look for “good bones” and to imagine what the house will look like when renovated.

“If the basics of the structure are solid it can be restored,” Russell said.

New buyers in the older home market are often put off by stories they’ve heard of unexpected repairs that crop up after moving in.

A home inspection should find any problems in a home before you make the decision to purchase.

That information will alert you to work that is needed and extra budget issues you need to factor into the home purchase.

Russell’s house, when first seen, had ugly and potentially hazardous asbestos shingles on it. What seemed like a big problem was “much easier to fix than feared;” a specialist roofing company removed the shingles in a single day.

Age alone does not create a heritage home. Heritage homes receive that designation from the city.

A heritage designation can actually provide a financial benefit. There are financial incentives available though the  Victoria Heritage Foundation (online at victoriaheritagefoundation.ca) to assist with renos to those properties.

Some buyers fear that such a designation will prevent needed changes to a house. Russell said that isn’t so. A heritage designation prevents wholesale changes to the look of a building but doesn’t stop you from upgrading a kitchen or fixing old wiring and plumbing issues if they exist.

Russell said you have to remember that  “a house is not a museum, it is a place to live in.”

 

ddent

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million

Transport Canada bans ships until end of October in response to COVID-19

Point-guard lobs no-look, three-pointer for Oak Bay High video

Trick-shot only took three times, says Oak Bay teen

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Phase-by-phase look at how Greater Victoria Public Libraries will reopen

GVPL to quarantine returned material for a minimum of 72 hours before lending again

Langford pitches Westhills as Canadian Premier League soccer hub

Langford could host all eight teams for August matches

VIDEO: Victoria dental staff dance to *NSYNC to promote reopening

Urban Smiles staff ‘want you back’ after closure in response to pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read