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 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.