Two houses recently sold in our neighbourhood. One, the one we lovingly referred to as “the crack house”, is certainly scheduled for demolition. There hasn’t been any maintenance to that property since mullets were in style (the first time). It is falling to pieces, the yard filled with trash. Soon the big machines will come and tear it down and replace it with a three-storey faux craftsman with a laneway. It was inevitable and to a certain extent, planned-for.
The other house that sold is our neighbours’. The couple who lived there spent much time and love taking care of it. Yes, it drove us crazy to hear their tools fire up early on a week-end morning, but you could see just from looking at the exterior that these people took care of their home. Now the big question on our minds is: “Will the new owners leave as is? Reno? Demolish and rebuild?”
On our block we have seen it all. Perfectly good small houses demolished for behemoths. Aging bungalows given new life with loving renovations. And of course, speculators buying the older, more derelict properties to hold on to for future development (while they rot and attract vermin of all species).
Rumour has it that the house next door has been bought by a family who will be moving into it as is; the tenants in the spacious two-bedroom basement suite are not looking for new accommodations yet. But we won’t truly exhale until the moving trucks pull away, emptied of a household’s goods now placed in their new home. Then we’ll show up with a plate of cookies to welcome them to the new neighbourhood.
But if they want to make changes but don’t want to tear it down, the new owners will be stepping into a quagmire of regulations and rules that is the permit process for renovation in Vancouver. This story in the Globe and Mail sums it up quite nicely.
Additions to the building code include a host of requirements designed to enhance accessibility for the disabled and to make houses more energy efficient. …..
Groups opposed to it are arguing that it will make renovations prohibitively expensive, adding to affordability problems and increasing the number of demolitions
Luckily the new owners wouldn’t have to do anything to bring the house up to code — the current residents have done all that. But what if someone bought the “crack house” to preserve that old-fashioned style of house? They would be screwed. It would cost twice as much as the house would be worth to bring it up to current codes. That’s one of the reasons we are losing these old houses. It’s just too much bother and expense to try to save them.
It’s not “energy efficient” to put a house’s worth of old materials into a landfill. And the drive to make our condo buildings air-tight contributed to the leaky condo crisis we are still trying to fix. Personally I feel people should get some dispensation for trying to save an old house, not just one designated as a heritage home, but a place that was built in the ’60s, the ’50s, and the ’40s. The architecture of those eras deserves to be respected and cherished as much as that of earlier years.
Meantime we will watch and see what changes our neighbourhood will experience in the next few months.