LETTER: Heritage properties carry hidden costs

I agree that preservation of heritage structures adds much to the character of Victoria. I own a heritage designated home on Fernwood Road – not only is the home designated but the land and all structures on the property, only two properties are designated this way.

My first and major complaint has to do with city retention of all records, engineering drawings and reports, architectural drawings, electrical permits, plumbing and building permits. I had a fire at the house in which all my original copies were destroyed; not to worry, I thought the city has all relevant copies. To my surprise the city had either lost or misplaced all this relevant information, forcing me to go through the entire process yet again. It cost me in excess of $60,000 to have new engineering (mechanical, electrical, structural) done again so I could proceed with reconstruction.

What many people do not realize is the associated cost in meeting new code and bylaw charges and in my case will exceed $180,000. Most insurance companies will not insure heritage structures and will only pay up to $40,000 code costs. I am fortunate my insurer suggested I have what is called a high value policy where the insurer will pay up to 15 per cent of assessed house value to cover related code and bylaw costs which includes full replacement value on all goods with no depreciation.

Five years before the fire my insurance cost was around $1,100 per year but the high value policy increased to $3,000 per year, which was well worth it in my case in being in a position to do a complete restoration.

Yes it is lovely to own a heritage structure, but my advice to homeowners is to make sure they have adequate insurance because owning such a property comes at an expense.

Gary Lang


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