Before you start…

Before starting work on your heritage property, read this advice from people who have learned the hard way.*

Be an informed property owner

  • Read up on best practices.
  • Know that simpler is often better.
  • Learn to do easy repairs yourself.
  • Save your money for the big jobs.

Aim for realistic projects

  • Break big projects into manageable parts.
  • Set priorities.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed.

Hire a qualified contractor

  • Ask for a list of previous projects.
  • Ask for references.
  • Check them out.

Don’t replace if you can repair

  • Respect your building’s character.
  • Keep it authentic.
  • Remember, old wood is denser and higher quality than new.

Appreciate your home’s character

  • People want the character and charm of heritage homes.
  • Embrace its creaks, cracks, and signs of age.
  • Don’t try to make it look new.

Don’t over-restore

  • Don’t let a contractor sell you more than you need.
  • Limit repairs to the parts that need it: e.g. don’t repoint your whole house if only one wall is damaged.
  • Overusing new materials can cheapen the look and durability of your home.

Document, document, document!

  • Take lots of notes and photos before, during, and after your project.
  • Give yourself – and future owners – a baseline for further restoration.
  • Eliminate future guess work.

* Tips compiled from a 2013 survey of Region of Waterloo heritage property owners and professionals.

Consult the Region of Waterloo’s Resources for Heritage Property Owners.