Real Estate

Buying a designated heritage house in GTA

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 28, 2010
841 posts
366 upvotes
Toronto

Buying a designated heritage house in GTA

Interested in a very nicely done designate heritage house on west side with a generous lot size - typical of some of these properties.

What are the pros and cons of getting into a heritage property? This is in Burlington if that helps.

From limited knowledge: I believe we cannot make changes to the exterior of the building, but can do inside - although we would only re-do flooring if had to?
Also, it seems there are some property tax breaks for heritage properties - not sure if that is significant.

Any real life experiences? Is there a different/higher maintenance and care investment for such properties, periodic inspections to maintain the status etc..
15 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
4427 posts
2929 upvotes
Karma2000 wrote: Interested in a very nicely done designate heritage house on west side with a generous lot size - typical of some of these properties.

What are the pros and cons of getting into a heritage property? This is in Burlington if that helps.

From limited knowledge: I believe we cannot make changes to the exterior of the building, but can do inside - although we would only re-do flooring if had to?
Also, it seems there are some property tax breaks for heritage properties - not sure if that is significant.

Any real life experiences? Is there a different/higher maintenance and care investment for such properties, periodic inspections to maintain the status etc..
When was the last time the exterior has been redone? It costs alot more to remove exterior and reuse them when the mortar gets old.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 28, 2010
841 posts
366 upvotes
Toronto
cristianosham wrote: When was the last time the exterior has been redone? It costs alot more to remove exterior and reuse them when the mortar gets old.
Not sure, but exterior is stonework in decent shape...couple of houses next door are similar. From google street view, not many changes since 2011. Roof does look newer
I believe the city maintains a catalog for any changes to heritages properties. Will see if can find anything like that.
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
4427 posts
2929 upvotes
Another thing is do you have these ornamental flashing or tin work on the roof? I had to replace some when I had the front stones redone. You need a tinsmith to custom make to original that too costs $$$. I remembering paying $5k for a piece that was no more than 1 metered squared area of tin.
The bad thing about these heritage buildings is you cannot alter the existing look, design or appearance. Exterior wall you got to use same type of stones which again will be custom cut. Just remember custom means alot more $$$$
Heat loss is greater and cannot reinstated to present code unless you got all the inside walls, more $$$.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 28, 2010
841 posts
366 upvotes
Toronto
cristianosham wrote: Another thing is do you have these ornamental flashing or tin work on the roof? I had to replace some when I had the front stones redone. You need a tinsmith to custom make to original that too costs $$$. I remembering paying $5k for a piece that was no more than 1 metered squared area of tin.
The bad thing about these heritage buildings is you cannot alter the existing look, design or appearance. Exterior wall you got to use same type of stones which again will be custom cut. Just remember custom means alot more $$$$
Heat loss is greater and cannot reinstated to present code unless you got all the inside walls, more $$$.
wow..that's a lot of efforts and $$$ to keep it as it is.
It's like owning something (understood it's not paid off) , but yet unable to touch or mend it to your liking. Would you have to seek approval before using any materials and then further inspections and approvals once done? I get your point, we should vet the exterior of building as good as the interior.
At the same time are there any special incentives from city for such properties? All these restrictive rules and upkeep should be rewarded in some way.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jan 14, 2007
637 posts
253 upvotes
GTA North
No experience with Heritage home but based on the comments above in regard to repair I would think your insurance needs may be different and likely more costly. Check with your provider.
Deal Addict
May 12, 2014
3289 posts
3270 upvotes
Montreal
You should definitely count on regulations getting more onerous, not less, over time (ie things you are allowed to do today you won't be able to do in the future).

I would never buy a heritage property.
Deal Addict
Feb 19, 2019
1700 posts
2614 upvotes
Stouffville ON
Resale - no developer or builder will touch it with a ten foot pole. How many times do you see new subdivisions with one old house left standing?

Buyers who are familiar with the costs and headaches will also shy away.
Full Time and Full Service Realtor
Jr. Member
Sep 26, 2016
142 posts
130 upvotes
Longueuil, QC
FYI, Montreal is even considering banning interior modification for heritage houses. Dont touch it, not worth the risk/inconvenience
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 28, 2010
841 posts
366 upvotes
Toronto
Hmm.. didn't hear any positives of owning a heritage property? So, it's just a tag of owning something unique and perhaps an architecture style that might or might not be wow.
Deal Addict
May 23, 2017
1357 posts
1343 upvotes
Karma2000 wrote: Hmm.. didn't hear any positives of owning a heritage property? So, it's just a tag of owning something unique and perhaps an architecture style that might or might not be wow.
Yuppp. Pretty much. Unless you are a history buff and owning such a property gives you immense joy/thrill/satisfaction (so much so that it makes up for the headaches you have to put up with)...I agree with previous posters, AVOID! Or...if no one else wants to touch it with a 10-foot-pole and the value has sunk to rock-bottom so it's an amazing deal, then maybe see if you want to take it on.

But even in those two cases I'd say really think long and hard about if it's something you want to deal with.

If you just like the architecture, find something similar (older house from same era) that isn't designated heritage. And/or can always renovate another house to make it more similar and include architectural features you like.
Deal Expert
May 30, 2005
47580 posts
8188 upvotes
Richmond Hill
Karma2000 wrote: Hmm.. didn't hear any positives of owning a heritage property? So, it's just a tag of owning something unique and perhaps an architecture style that might or might not be wow.
Well, they used to use better materials, and it's one-of-a-kind, not cookie cutter, is that any positive for you?

In all seriousness, a heritage house has restrictions so there's really no upside to it other than the look. It's not like the city will pay you to maintain a heritage house...
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
4427 posts
2929 upvotes
sunmagic wrote: FYI, Montreal is even considering banning interior modification for heritage houses. Dont touch it, not worth the risk/inconvenience
Oh, that is news to me. I guess if I can still get a good price I should sell.

Jon Lai wrote:
Well, they used to use better materials, and it's one-of-a-kind, not cookie cutter, is that any positive for you?

In all seriousness, a heritage house has restrictions so there's really no upside to it other than the look. It's not like the city will pay you to maintain a heritage house...
I remember a few years back I had to get the front facade redone. Not everyone can do it and there is like 3 main companies that do 95% of the restorations. I contacted Atwill Morin and they wanted 140K for a 3 storey high X 20 feet just the front facade removed and redone. I also submitted subsidy for the work where the city will pay 30K max.
For what it's worth, demolishing all the stones and brick with regular commercial stuff was 15K. So paying 140K is like paying 125K extra. Doesn't make economical sense but that what heritage is.
But once the city got involved to pay part, you have to follow their guidelines and deadlines. Same happen when I changed the windows and asked for subsidy. That is why for some buildings you see them all of a sudden just catch on fire. Then you dont have to follow this heritage bs.
Unless it is like downtown core or very cheap I would reconsider buying a heritage property.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Dec 28, 2010
841 posts
366 upvotes
Toronto
So looks like there are subsidies provided by the city for upgrades. But, then have to adhere to lots of guidelines, which might a huge pain.
The interior of this one is very well done (redone couple of years back) and we would not have needed any immediate upgrades to say... also the lot is very nice size,in a mature neighborhood.

Thanks for all the feedback ! my view of heritage properties is now changed.
Member
Jul 19, 2018
274 posts
168 upvotes
Mississauga
Karma2000 wrote: So looks like there are subsidies provided by the city for upgrades. But, then have to adhere to lots of guidelines, which might a huge pain.
The interior of this one is very well done (redone couple of years back) and we would not have needed any immediate upgrades to say... also the lot is very nice size,in a mature neighborhood.

Thanks for all the feedback ! my view of heritage properties is now changed.
Generally heritage properties are hard to sell. You will have less buyers for it when and if you decide to sell it down the road.

As far as renovations are concerned. Any changes you make inside the house you will need to go to the city and the permit process will take much longer than usual just because it is a heritage property. You will not be allowed to change the exterior or change the design of the windows. If you need to replace the windows you will have to find similar windows or have them custom made which can cost you quite a bit more as well.

A heritage property can be a good opportunity for people and sometimes can be had for less than other houses on the same street. But you have to be prepared to spend extra anytime you do any renovation work and also the resale would be less as well.

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