Restoring an old home can be exciting and fun… or a nightmare. Either way, the process is expensive, costing both time and money. That is why we think it is time for a frank conversation about this endeavour.

The costs of restoring an old home

Right now, you’ll find a series of recent news articles about “free” character homes being available. These homes are not free though. You still have to pay for permits and to have the home moved. Then there are the renovations. Restoring an old home can be costly. In fact, at times, it can cost more to renovate an old home than to build a new one.

Restoring an old home can also cost a lot in terms of time. Even just getting a free character home takes time as you have to call Homeowners to track down options. For some people, finding a home can be a multi-year process. You may have to spend even longer to find a home you want. On top of that, it will take time and energy to manage the restoration process. In the end, you will probably spend significantly more time restoring your home than building it.

On the other hand, in many Municipalities, you will receive relaxations or incentives if you restore a character home, for example in the City of Vancouver you may be granted additional floor space and even front verandas or rear decks that are far larger than you are now allowed to have. So long as the elements were on a permit somewhere in the past you can usually keep those elements and potentially enhance them.

How to tell if restoring an old home is right for you

Before restoring an old home, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you want a character home?

A character home is not going to be free, even if it is promoted that way. Given that, you should only choose to get a character home if you really want one. If you are not sure, think about the situation – and do not make a commitment until you are sure about how you feel.

2. Are you willing and able to wait for a home?

Do you have a place to stay while you wait for a home? Are you willing to live where you are now for several years? If you have to move into a home quickly, restoring an old house is probably not for you.

3. Are you ready to put significant time and energy into restoring an old home?

Restoring an old home is a significant commitment. Given this, it is important to see if that is a commitment you can take on. If you cannot afford the time or money, do not start down the restoration path. Instead, look at newer homes or consider Custom Home Design.

If you do want to take on restoring an old home, ask a lot of questions before deciding on a house! Make sure you have a team of professionals – and trust the advice they give you. This will give you the best chance of having a positive renovation experience.