Heritage home, First time buyers


Dear David,

It’s my understanding that if you own a heritage home, you can’t change the outside but can do anything you want to the interior. Is that correct? – HISTORY BUFF

DEAR HISTORY: Well, yes and no. There are different designations under the Ontario Heritage Act and individual homes may have unique considerations.

Cities can identify specific neighbourhoods as “historically significant” under Part V of the Act. When this happens, design guidelines may be put in place to conserve aspects that have cultural or historical importance. While these rules vary, a homeowner in a Part V designated area should consult with their local Heritage Planner if they wish to alter the outside of their home.

A Part IV heritage designation applies to individual properties, identifying specific features that should be preserved (either exterior or interior).

I just spent two years restoring a century home with a Part IV designation. I worked in consultation with Heritage Kitchener. To ensure the process ran smoothly, we met with planners before getting started and applied for permits well in advance regarding the preservation/restoration of the porch, windows, banister, floors, baseboards and vintage front door (we received no input regarding our exterior trim colours and complete kitchen and bathroom renovations). Pro Tip: There may be grant programs worth checking out if you own a heritage designated property in Waterloo region. Heritage planners are a great resource for this information!

Dear David,

We are first time buyers. How will we know when we’ve found the right home? – NERVOUS

DEAR NERVOUS: I compare many aspects of the house hunting process to dating. If you were to go on 10 first dates, you would likely meet 10 very different people — and there could be more than one who catches your eye. Likewise, when house hunting, you’ll likely find a number of good matches. From there, you’ll know the right home when you see it.

When it comes to houses, there’s never just one “perfect fit”. For some clients, the home-buying process involves submitting an offer on more than one house, each of which would be a great place for them to live. These homes often share similarities, as they are chosen based on consistent factors like price, location and number of bedrooms. But each is also unique and brings its own “special something”.

Searching for a home on the MLS system is like internet dating. We start by picking listings that look good on paper, which gets us two-thirds of the way there. We then follow with a showing (a first date, so to speak) so you can see the property in person. Pro Tip: When you find “the one” you’ll know it, and we’ll do everything we can to make it yours. #AskDavid