Before taking on any maintenance projects or making alterations to your heritage building, it is important to consider how changes may affect your building’s heritage character and significance as well as its performance. Too many historic buildings have suffered from poor planning and hasty renovations. Good planning can ensure you achieve your goals while retaining the endearing charm of your old building. There are professionals that can help you with every step. VHF recommends gaining professional advice and services from qualified individuals experienced with heritage. This guide will help in understanding key considerations and steps when planning a project whether it is a small repair or large rehabilitation.
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1. Get familiar with the National Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
2. Review other conservation resources.
a. Heritage Conservation 101 provides a good synopsis of heritage conservation in Canada.
b. Rehab: Yes or No? and What is Historic Character? are two interactive guides to heritage conservation. One takes you through a series of common renovation scenarios, the other helps you assess heritage features. Although created by the USA National Park Service, the principles apply to Canadian heritage as well.
c. Practical Guidelines for the Sustainable Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings in Canada advises on how to upgrade historic buildings in a sustainable manner while maintaining historic fabric and character.
3. Learn more about your building’s history & historic architectural character.
Use our guide to researching heritage buildings and investigate when your house or building was built, who lived there and how the neighbourhood has evolved. Also, explore Vancouver House Styles and other architecture resources to decipher your building’s style and heritage features. Finally, remember to consider how the building fits with the surrounding landscape and if there are elements of the site that impact the building’s heritage character. Perhaps the original landscaping was thoughtfully integrated with the building’s architecture, like in this West Coast Modern home described in the video below.
4. Document the current condition of your building.
5. Consider how proposed interventions will affect heritage features & building performance.
6. Determine whether your building is on the Vancouver Heritage Register, is municipally designated, or within a heritage conservation area.
7. Learn about the policies & By-Laws that apply to your building.
8. Decide whether your project requires professional consultation.
9. Develop a financial strategy & find funding for your heritage project.
Regular maintenance can keep your building in good condition and prevent the need for large costly projects. However, even the best maintained home or building eventually needs a new furnace or roof, for example. Having a financial plan that goes hand in hand with your maintenance plan and incorporates your lifestyle goals can save you major headaches.
When planning, also make sure to look for financial incentives available to heritage buildings! VHF offers grants for painting, restoration and energy efficient retrofits. Visit our granting page to learn more.
10. Finally, remember to keep a log of alterations and maintenance projects.
Keeping a record of alterations helps track maintenance needs and streamline future planning.