When you come across a heritage home listed for sale in Ontario it’s easy to be drawn into the history, character and charm of the property.
However, before you start seriously considering buying a heritage home there are some questions that we recommend you should consider first.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A HERITAGE HOME IN ONTARIO?
You may be wondering what the objective qualifications are for a property to be considered a heritage home such as how old the home is, its previous uses or residents etc,
Well, you may be surprised to know that these standard qualifications do not exist.
Rather, section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA) grants municipalities the authority to designate prosperities “of cultural heritage value or interest” through by-laws.
All that is required is the drafting of a statement of cultural heritage, value and interest followed by a council motion and an ad in a local publication. (2)
This can even be done without the current property owner’s support, consent or involvement.
There does also not seem to be a designated timeline for how long it takes for a home to be designated as a heritage home. It can happen quickly.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HERITAGE DESIGNATION IN ONTARIO?
There are some benefits to owning a heritage home in Ontario that are personal and difficult to quantify but probably come to mind first.
These can include the personal satisfaction of living in and caring for a home with officially recognized cultural and historical significance (as well as the bragging rights, clout and dinner party stories that come with it).
However, there are a couple more tangible benefits to owning a heritage property in Ontario such as:
1/ Property tax relief. Municipal governments have the power to pass a by-law that provides tax relief for heritage homes between 10% – 40%.
2/ Grant programs. Similar to the above, local governments also can offer tax-back grants to heritage property owners. These grants must be used towards approved alternations (renovations) to the heritage home.
If you were considering buying an Ontario heritage home for financial benefits, you may want to think again.
CAN YOU RENOVATE A HERITAGE HOME IN ONTARIO?
Yes, with permission from the city.
Along with the heritage designation comes various protections meant to preserve the character and integrity of the home.
Those protections mean that many renovations for heritage homes can’t be done as simply as renovations for non-heritage homes.
If you own a heritage home, you should contact your local municipality directly when thinking of making any alternations to your property but here is a list of renovation examples that commonly require heritage approval:
- Replacing windows or doors
- Installing a skylight
- Switching roofing materials
- Significant landscape changes
- Heating or cooling systems
- Room additions or demo
Some basic maintenance needs like replacing roofing materials with the same materials or repairs to downspouts would not require heritage approval.
HOW DOES HOME INSURANCE WORK FOR AN ONTARIO HERITAGE HOME?
Ontario home insurance premiums should not be affected by a heritage home designation.
There is no real difference between regular home insurance and heritage home insurance when it comes to insuring your home in Ontario. Claims damage, of course, will often require repairs or replacement and would be subject to the same limitations and guidelines which can sometimes result in higher claim costs and delays in the availability of materials at times.
The costs related to insuring a heritage home may be higher than the provincial average, however, this is most likely due to the age of the home and its special risk considerations and not related to it being a heritage home.
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.