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Heritage Homes in Victoria, BC

The character homes sprawled throughout Victoria, BC are a part of the city’s charm, and history.  

Some of these character homes, or what we refer to as heritage homes, have been identified and given certain protections intended to maintain their integrity.

Registered vs. Designated

There are two types of heritage homes:

– Registered Heritage Homes

– Designated Heritage Homes

Registered heritage homes can be thought of as “Heritage Lite”, as they don’t have as many protections, whereas designated heritage homes have their own separate zoning bylaw. 

Both need council approval before any alterations are made to them, but registered homes are generally easier to demolish.

How Does a Home Become Heritage?

When identifying a home as a heritage home, there are two main components, or criteria, that are considered:

– Architectural

– Historical

Some of the questions that may be asked when considering the architectural components of the building:

Is the building’s style representative of one of the city’s significant development periods?   

Are the building’s special attributes of an aesthetic or functional nature?

Are there unique or uncommon building materials, such as a slate roof?

Did the architect, designer or engineer make a significant contribution to the city, province, or country?

Some of the questions that may be asked when considering the historical components of the building:

Does the building have a direct association with a person, group, institution, event, or activity? Is this association of historical significance?

Is the building associated with broad patterns of local history such as social, political, or economic trends and activities?

What are some the incentives for owning a heritage home?

Grants:

The Victoria Heritage Foundation receives funds from the City of Victoria to help promote the preservation of heritage designated residences.

If the home requires maintenance or repairs that will preserve its integrity, such as redoing the windows, paint, roof, and other structural and aesthetic components, you can apply to have some of these costs covered by a grant.

Unfortunately, you are restricted to one grant a year and it is subject to the Victoria Heritage Foundation’s priorities and the funds available for that year.

Taxes:

There is a tax incentive program that helps offset the seismic upgrading costs.

Homeowners may receive tax exemptions based on the annual property taxes for a period up to ten years to offset the cost of seismic upgrading.

The City of Victoria’s website outlines what work is eligible and application requirements, such as a minimum of two quotes and a letter from a structural engineer.

The term of exemption you will receive will be the cost of seismic upgrading divided by the current taxes.

How are heritage homeowners restricted?

The main restriction of course it that their home is protected by the city. This means that there is a lot of red tape surrounding redevelopment or remodelling of the home.

Owning a heritage home can restrict your potential future use of the property and for this reason, they often appreciate at a lower rate than the average single-family dwelling in Victoria; however, many people appreciate the characteristics of these homes and are happy to maintain their components of significance.

We hope this gave you a better understanding of registered and designated heritage homes and what makes them unique!

We’re always happy to answer your questions and learn more about your homeownership goals, get in touch with us here.

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