Heritage is pricey

Fred Soofi - CRaig Hodge/the tri-city newS
Fred Soofi
— image credit: CRaig Hodge/the tri-city newS

It’s not cheap to save a heritage home in the Tri-Cities. Anyone with the dream of saving a lovely older house from the wreckers needs a large line of credit or a lottery win. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade these houses to modern standards even with just the basics, such as new windows, electrical and plumbing, and even more if you want to restore the home to its former glory.

And what do you get for your efforts? A plaque but little else even if you painstakingly restore old stonework or make other improvements to keep the home intact.

If you want to modernize with a few subtle improvements, forget it. BC Building Code requirements are stringent and if you want to renovate, be prepared to shell out some significant dollars. A city heritage designation might even prevent you from making some changes that would make the home more saleable in the future.

Saving heritage is a tricky business indeed and it takes deep pockets, even though everybody says they need heritage in their city.

Efforts to save heritage-quality buildings in the Tri-Cities have so far mostly failed due to lack of funds. The New View Society, for example, needed $1 million to upgrade the Charles Lobb House in Port Coquitlam, but couldn’t raise the cash and a motivated neighbour would have moved the home to his Gulf Islands property but it turned out to be too expensive. It was torn down and a new building is going up in its place.

Port Moody has had better luck with deep-pocketed entrepreneurs moving buildings to save them but still the costs of saving heritage are daunting. Restaurant owner Fred Soofi, for example, has been saving older houses for some years and is about to do so again, moving a lovely older home from St. Johns Street to George Street and restoring it, along with the another home on the property. The move, plus renovations, will cost $500,000 or more.

He may get back some of his investment when he sells the vacated property but there aren’t a lot of people with the kind of finances required to do such a deal.

Save heritage, sure, but it’s not for everyone.

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