Buying and Restoring a Heritage Home in Ontario

That charming Queen Anne is calling your name — buying a heritage home in Ontario  may be right up your alley. Be forewarned: it’s best to be handy, or have time (and money) on your hands for a heritage home restoration in Ontario.

Aching for Adventure in Ontario’s Small Places

Summer’s here. The living is easy watching HGTV designer Sarah Richardson and design assistant Tommy Smythe buying a heritage home in Ontario. Putting that weathered backyard barn back together with elbow grease and custom, double-height windows in Season 2 of Sarah Off the Grid got Creemore (population 1,170 thanks to the 2016 Census) on the map.  

Repainting tips for heritage restorations.  

Jumping Head First into a Heritage Home Restoration

Sarah Richardson “jumped head first into a new project”, according to the show’s news release. Apparently so did Creemore residents, who thronged around Richardson to see the heritage home restoration transform the century-old Victorian into luxury vacation digs. Solar panels took it off the grid no less! Using solar photovoltaic energy for a heritage home restoration in Ontario. 

Big City Nearness Without the Price

Ontario’s small towns can be a pleasure. So much to do and see without the big city prices. Antique shopping, gossiping with friendly neighbours over a white picket fence. Buying a heritage home in Ontario sounds like the perfect antidote to big city traffic jams and property tax pandemonium. Reduce your taxes when you buy a farm. 

Mortgage a farm or lake lot. 

Not for the Budget Minded

Those red brick, storied Victorians, and lakeside clapboard cottages are definitely a project waiting to happen. Just what every enthusiast intent on buying a heritage home in Ontario is looking for. Richardson says they’re not exactly an economical choice. The Creemore Echo reports Richardson’s folly, if you could call it that, was a labour of love, but definitely “not a good investment….” The heritage home restoration was a way to give back to Creemore. Richardson donated proceeds from house tours to a local arts and heritage group.

Making Your Money Back With Rentals

A Cobourg couple took a similarly big financial risk rebuilding The College Grand in 2018. The 1904 homestead went from a battered, vacant shell to contemporary, loft-style rental units. The grand new design features exposed brick, gas fireplaces, high ceilings, and expansive gardens. What with concierge services, it’s a dream reno.

Profit from an Ontario income property. 

Going Over the Top

Veteran home renovator Scott McGillivray of Buyers Bootcamp warns home buyers not to go too high end with small town finishes. By all means winterize and update old knob and tube electrical wiring, copper kitchen plumbing, and newspaper or wood chip insulation, he says. Marble countertops and multi-burner gas stoves though probably won’t command the return they would in big city ‘burbs. Is knob and tube wiring legal?

Why Have a Pool at the Lake?

Some splurges just aren’t worth it. Adding a pool can be a renovator’s costliest blunder, especially for owners buying a heritage home in Ontario. “The only time a pool can add value to a vacation home is when it’s completely landlocked. If you’re on a lake or beach, don’t bother,” , McGillivray cautions.

Odd design mistakes – they oughta sued. 

What is Considered a Heritage Home in Ontario

Is it worth buying a heritage house? For budget-minded buyers, buying a heritage home in Ontario just could be a black hole of financial despair. Not the least of buyer’s worries are those reno restrictions under the Ontario Heritage Act. You could lose (or win big) three ways, if your home is:

  1. On the heritage register.
  2. A designated heritage property.
  3. In a heritage conservation district.

Heritage homes are not necessarily more valuable — they appreciate at about the same rate as other  properties. But for buyers, the value in buying a heritage home in Ontario is the joy of owning something unique. Search the Ontario Heritage Register Act database for designated homes. 

Clean energy grants for rural and remote communities. 

Realtors’ Obligation to Disclose Heritage Status

Realtors have a professional obligation to disclose material facts about a home for sale to potential buyers. That means if a home has heritage restrictions, your realtor should tell you before you make an offer. Your mortgage availability could be affected if extensive renovations are needed but you are limited by what you can do by the Ontario Heritage Act. Check before you buy.

Renos and Your Home’s Heritage 

Yes, you can renovate a heritage home in Ontario, provided you give your municipality at least 60 days’ written notice before destroying or removing your home. Designated heritage properties are protected by municipal bylaw and are part of your community’s history and cultural assets. 

Buyers generally require written municipal consent in advance to make changes and may meet resistance if they affect the home’s heritage attributes. What you can do depends on the bylaw and what parts the municipality expects you to preserve. Submit a notice of change of ownership within 30 days of possession and include building plans with your reno application.

What’s permitted in Toronto’s zoning bylaws

Living in a Heritage Conservation District

Neighbourhoods, buildings, shops, land, or street fixtures can all have historic designations when you live in a heritage conservation district. While you may be able to make minor changes without a municipal permit, check before you do anything. Better to have your permit in hand than get a rude awakening after buying a heritage home. 

Reno Funding for Seniors, People with Disabilities

Good news for seniors and family members with disabilities: Ontario Renovates offers provincial funding for some renovations. Repairs to a home’s structure, such as a foundation, windows or doors, or to make it more accessible by adding ramps or chair lifts can be eligible. Your municipal office or website can confirm your eligibility. Apply for Ontario Renovates funding in Ottawa. 

Basement renovations home buyers look for. 

Tempering Excitement With Reality

Watching TV renos may have you hepped up to get going with buying a heritage home. Temper your excitement with a dose of reality by doing your research first and asking questions (a lot of questions) before you buy. As they say, look before you leap. First time home buyer incentives.

Questions you ask our real estate lawyers.

Affordable Legal Services, Anywhere in Ontario 

Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.

Find a real estate lawyer in Ontario. 

Dial Toll Free for Appointments or Go Online

Whether it’s your first-home or a restoration project, Axess Law Ontario can write up the legal documents for your heritage home purchase. Make an online video conference call  appointment day or evening, at your convenience, 7 days a week. Dial toll-free to 1-877-552-9377 or call 647-479-0118 in Toronto, or use our online booking form. You can visit a licensed real estate lawyer in person at any of our Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa law offices

Axess Law has onsite parking and easy transit access.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.

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