If you are thinking of restorations or renovations on your property, getting to know your house, and the historical materials, construction and design that make it distinct, is important.
Questions to help you start:
» Glossary of House Styles, Types and Terminology (this is a general resource, not BC specific)
» Your Old House : Heritage BC Guides
Research your house to learn what are the historic materials – try to find primary sources : deeds, original photos, construction documents. Your local library and community archives are great places to start.
If your own research reveals little, learn about historic house styles. Once you learn your house’s style, you can learn about what similar homes in your area were built with. Read the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Vancouver House Style Guide for materials related to historic north west coast house styles. If you can’t find your house style there, try Antique Home Style, which provides an overview of broadly American historic homes.
Using original materials can be expensive, and at times unfeasible. Evaluate what parts of your house are key to its historic character and heritage value. These are its Character Defining Elements. Try your best to keep those elements as close to the historic materials as possible, as they will be integral in preserving the heritage value of your home.
In 2010, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation launched a Vancouver House Styles Guide that will have relevancy for homes in the lower mainland and beyond. We recommend exploring it to see if your house aligns with any of their examples.
Otherwise, it is best to go to the source material for historic references. Look for primary sources – such as floor plans for historic homes, and historic photos that show the original exteriors. Many resources available online are American, but can offer general insights into types of homes. Use sites that provide bibliographies, or otherwise cite their sources.
For those interested in staying true to the historic look of their home : Be wary of blog posts that share beautiful historic homes, such as on realty sites or pinterest. They will not share the restoration process, and could be providing examples of homes that removed character defining features, changed the original colour palette, or more.