Heritage Home, Modern Comforts

Last month I wrote about some of the latest innovations being shown at the 2011 Home & Garden Show - a topic right in line with what you would expect from a Developer-turned-Realtor. This month, my Kitsilano heritage home listing combined with a visit from my Architect sister-in-law who restored her own heritage home in the UK, has me turning to the past.

As a developer, I have often wondered why someone would renovate a historic home. Often times, it is much easier and almost as cost effective, to demolish the home and start over. But, more than just timber and masonry is lost when a home is demolished. A piece of Vancouver history goes with it.

After seeing 2864 West 3rd Avenue, and listening to the story behind my clients' renovation of their historic home, my views have turned around. I can now appreciate the love and care that goes into making an old home new again. I can understand the joy someone must feel by taking something that is older than we are and preserving it for future generations to enjoy. I can also appreciate the environmental merits of the preservation approach.

There is something special about the character of an old home. Being surrounded by craftsmanship evident in the wainscoting, coffered ceilings, inlaid oak and fir floors, stained glass and antique lighting somehow reminds you that there was a time when things were much simpler and life was less rushed. Having a "library" with wing back chairs in front of a fireplace invites you to enjoy the home in quiet contemplation as well as celebration. The bay windows and generous porch spaces invite you to gaze out to the park and streetscape.

You do not get the same quality of materials with new construction. Today, trusses and wood floors are "engineered"; MDF trim and moldings are small and inconsequential; doors are hollow and light and windows are vinyl and not as attractive. Most of today's materials are manufactured thousands of kilometres away in mass production processes so as to be more economical. A well done heritage home uses a combination of high quality reclaimed and modern materials.

Just because a house is old doesn't mean that it cannot have the modern conveniences that we have come to expect. It is still possible to install new plumbing and electrical systems. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the furnace and "tankless" hot water system for the historic home that I am selling, especially having just written about these in last month's newsletter about the 2001 Home Show. The home also features a remote-control skylight to release steam from the shower and will close upon sensing rain!

Individuals that restore these homes are a different breed altogether. They see their home as not only a place to live, but a never ending quest to preserve something beautiful. What gives you more satisfaction than using your own hands to craft something and bring it back to life? Talk about pride of ownership - a person buying a new home could never be as proud of their home as someone who has restored a heritage home.

If you want to learn more about restoring a historic home, go to my website and click on the listing for 2864 West 3rd Ave. Here you can see the renovation history and documents dating back to 1911 that were found in the walls from when the home was first built. Better yet, come by and see the home with your own eyes. I will be holding an open house from 2 - 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday (April 9th and 10th).


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