Rehabilitation Requirements

General Principles

The Victoria Heritage Foundation’s Rehabilitation Requirements are based on the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, a manual of heritage conservation practice. VHF has assembled these guidelines and requirements for its House Grants Program.

Ensure that your project and quotes conform to the VHF Rehabilitation Requirements. Adherance to the Rehabilitation Requirements is mandatory. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure that work is done per the requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements will likely affect payment of your grant in full or part. To ensure full compliance, please provide prospecitve contractors with a copy of the applicable requirements for the project and ask them to specify these requirements in their quotes. The contractor's on-site representative should also be provided with a copy before work commences.

Use contractors who have experience working on heritage houses and with positive references you can personally verify.

  • An overall rehabilitation plan is highly recommended.

  • Ongoing maintenance will minimize the need for extensive repairs.

  • Repairs to the basic structure, foundations and roofs should be done first.

  • Repair of historic materials is preferable to replacement with new work.

  • If original detail is missing or replacement is necessary, new work should accurately match the original forms, materials and detailing, based on sufficient physical or documented evidence.

  • Use products with proven performance records.

  • All surface cleaning should be undertaken with the gentlest method possible.

  • Use contractors who have experience working on heritage houses and positive references you can personally verify. Although owner's labour is not eligible for grant, materials are eligible.

  • When obtaining quotes for a project, make sure you have considered all aspects of the job. Additional costs may not be funded.

While every effort is made by the Victoria Heritage Foundation to provide correct information and guidance to homeowners in making applications, neither VHF nor its members or staff individually guarantees the information given.

Victoria is in a high-risk earthquake zone. VHF urges homeowners to consider seismic upgrading both for personal safety and protection of their investment in Victoria’s irreplaceable historic housing stock. VHF strongly recommends that homeowners purchase Earthquake Insurance.

Although the 2012 Building Code includes prescriptive seismic guidelines for new construction, these are most likely not directly applicable to heritage-type buildings.

  • Seismic upgrading for foundations of heritage-type construction, masonry chimneys and roof structures must be designed by a Professional Stuctural Engineer in order to be eligible for a grant.

  • Where seismic upgrading is planned, homeowners can expedite the process by obtaining the required engineering design along with the contractors’ quotes, and submit these with the grant application. The cost of the engineering documentation is elegible as an additional grant to that allotted to the construction (see Special Grants in Application Guidelines & Conditions).

Download or print Foundations & Seismic Upgrade Requirements

VHF funds foundation repair as well as some new foundations.
  • Foundations as part of major basement renovations may not be funded and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis after all City permits are approved.

  • Any foundation that raises the house will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Reconstruction of foundation skirting should replicate the original, including water table elements.

Download or print Foundations & Seismic Upgrade Requirements

VHF funds only exterior brick and masonry work. Make sure your contractor is familiar with historic masonry work.

  • When rebuilding chimney, reuse original bricks or stone wherever possible.

  • Replacement bricks or stone, if required, should closely match original in profile, colour, texture and size.

  • Do not use soot-stained bricks on exterior.

  • Cleaning or paint removal should be undertaken with the gentlest method possible.

  • Media (e.g. sand) blasting and power washing are not acceptable.

  • When repointing mortar joints, power tools are not recommended for use on vertical joints and considerable care is required for their use on horizontal joints.

  • Strength, composition, colour, texture and profile of mortar joints or pointing should closely match original.

  • Mortar should be weaker than the bricks. Historic brick construction used soft lime mortars with a minimum of Portland cement.

  • Counter-flashing on brick chimney sides should include stepped (rather than continuous) and inserted into horizontal mortar joints and re-mortared. If previous counter-flashing was set into a diagonal groove cut into bricks, this must be repaired with colour-matched mortar.
  • Profile and material of chimney cap and chimney pots should closely match original; try to find old photographs. Beware of reproducing a chimney which has been rebuilt incorrectly in previous years.

  • If installing flue liners (not funded by VHF), use minimum projection above chimney.

Download or print Chimney, Masonry & Stucco Requirements

  • Gutter replacement should be coordinated with re-roofing, and both should precede painting.

  • Fascia boards and rafter tails should be checked for rot, and repairs included in quotes.

  • Do not allow contractors to cut off the exposed or notched rafter tails (typically found on Craftsman houses) to allow installation of larger gutters.

  • Do not allow contractors to cut into the watertable when attaching downspouts.

  • Built-in gutters should be repaired and retained rather than attaching new ones.

  • When repairing or replacing deteriorated woodwork, use the same wood species (likely fir or cedar) as the original and ensure that the exact profile of the original material is replicated. (Most modern stock lumber has rounded edges and is likely smaller that the original and may not be an acceptable replacement.)

  • All new woodwork must be primed with alkyd (oil) primer on all sides at time of installation.

  • Original gutter and downspout materials are preferred (i.e. wood, galvanized metal), but pre-finished enameled steel or aluminium is acceptable if compatible with colour scheme of house. Gutter and downspout colour must be an appropriate heritage colour and sympathetic to the colour scheme of the house.

  • Original profile of gutters (typically ogee or K-style) and downspouts should be replicated.

  • Downspouts in Victoria were typically round (3" is available locally). Square downspouts will not be funded unless there is documentary evidence that they were original to the house.

Download or print Fascia, Gutters & Downspout Requirements

VHF funds repairs to historic stucco. VHF also funds removal of stucco, asphalt, asbestos, aluminum or vinyl siding where original siding has been covered by these materials.

  • Ensure that any textured or decorative stucco is accurately recorded before undertaking repairs (i.e. note texture, thickness and colour).

  • Strength, composition, colour and texture of historic stucco should be carefully matched.

  • Consider repairing entire wall panel or section, but generally do not remove sound stucco.

Download or print Chimney, Masonry & Stucco Requirements

When obtaining estimates for roofing, it is important to provide roofers with a copy of these VHF requirements and ensure that they specify the applicable requirements in their written quotes.

General Guidelines
  • VHF funds repairs to roofing including flashing.

  • VHF is able to fund re-roofing of a house once every 30 years.

  • VHF will fund re-roofing with historic material as well as compatible substitutes.

  • Substitute roofing material should reflect the historic material in design, colour, exposure, size and other visual qualities. A sample of proposed material, if new to VHF, must be submitted for review and approval.

  • Roofing and gutter replacement should be coordinated (see Fascia, Gutter & Downspout requirements).

  • Masonry chimneys require repointing; this should be done prior to re-roofing (see Chimneys & Masonry requirements).

  • Ensure that nail length for roof overhang on exposed eaves is correct to avoid protruding nails.

  • All new elements (including vents) should be fitted as discreetly as possible.

  • Vents must be installed to BC Building Code requirements. Contractor should indicate the number of required vents and discuss placement of the vents.

  • Ensure chemical and physical compatibility between roofing material, fastenings and flashings (i.e. do not use copper with galvanized material).

  • Low-pitched roofs have specific requirements: refer to BC Building Code or specialist.

  • Original ridge capping may have been metal or wood and should be reinstated, if known.
    If there is documentation of original rooftop decoration or missing features such as cresting or finials, consider replacing at time of re-roofing (see Special Grants in Application Requirements document).

Roofing/Flashing Requirements

  • All layers of old roofing must be removed prior to application of new roofing material. Photographic verification or VHF inspection is required.

  • Any known problems in roof structure must be repaired prior to re-roofing.

  • Sheathing where required, must be plywood. If there is previous oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing, it must be removed and replaced with plywood.

  • All old flashing must be replaced with new. If flashings are missing, they are to be installed.

  • Flashing at roof-wall intersections must be under siding – not surface mounted. There should be approximately 2” clearance between the roof shingles and the wall cladding.This may require careful trimming or selective replacement of wall cladding.

  • Counter flashings on sides of brick chimney should be stepped (rather than continuous) and inserted into horizontal mortar joints and re-mortared. If previous counter-flashing was set into a diagonal groove cut into bricks, this must be repaired with colour-matched mortar.

  • Plumbing stack flashing must be lead (rather Neoprene rubber).

  • Gable (rake) edge drip flashing must cover plywood sheathing edges.

  • Roof valleys must have open valley shingling with exposed flashing.

  • Metal rain diverters must be installed at bottom of gable edges where bargeboards extend beyond roofline.

  • Ridge cap shingles should be high profile if fibreglass laminate shingles are used.

  • Attic box vents must be metal (rather than plastic)..

  • Consider using continuous ridge vents as they reduce the required number of attic box vents.

Download or print Roofing & Flashing Requirements

  • It is always preferable to repair original material where feasible.

  • Where the design of missing woodwork elements is unknown, documentary evidence must be provided from buildings of a similar style and era to demonstrate that replicated elements will be appropriate. To ensure historical accuracy, it is recommended that homeowners consult widely with those knowledgeable in the field before undertaking the replacement of missing elements (e.g. heritage architects, designers or engineers, City of Victoria Heritage Planners, VHF House Grants Inspectors). Such preparatory consultations can assist the homeowner in avoiding inaccurate design choices as well as the use of inappropriate materials.

  • When repairing or replacing deteriorated woodwork, use like materials (wood species) and ensure that the exact profile of the original material is replicated. (Most modern stock lumber has rounded edges and is likely thinner than the original and may not be an acceptable replacement.)

  • Rotted or structurally deteriorated woodwork must be repaired or replaced prior to applying paint.

  • All new woodwork must be primed with alkyd (oil) primer on all sides at time of installation (including concealed areas such as stair treads, etc).

  • Contemporary products suitable for preservation of deteriorated woodwork should be researched for your projects.

  • Composite materials (e.g. plywood, OSB, fibre-cement board) should not be used for exterior cladding without prior VHF approval.

  • Most original porches in Victoria between 1900-WWII were decked with Douglas fir tongue and groove flooring, with a standard visible floor width of approximately 3 1/2 inches and ran parallel to the slope. They should be replaced with like materials whenever possible..

  • Stair treads should be bull-nosed; cove moulding under the treads may be historically correct for your house.

  • Stair and porch replacements may require a Building and/or Heritage Alteration Permit. Homeowners are advised to inquire with the City of Victoria for any potential permits prior to application.

Download or print Woodwork & Trim Requirements

It is preferable to repair rather than replace original wood sash windows. The key to window longevity is the quality of the original material and construction techniques, combined with regular maintenance. These general guidelines for historic windows also apply to the repair, restoration and replication of historic doors..

  • VHF funds repair and restoration of historic windows.

  • VHF funds replication of historic windows where the original windows are missing or beyond repair.

  • VHF does not fund double-glazed or thermal units.

  • Replacement windows must replicate the original windows in material, overall frame size, sash profile and size, muntin profile and size, glass colour and reflective qualities.

  • Replace windows with historically appropriate or vintage glass.

  • Windows require stainless steel hardware.

  • Woodwork will require priming where there is bare wood.

  • Wood muntin bars separate pieces of glass. They are not placed over one large pane of glass.

  • Loose and deteriorated window putty must be removed and replaced with linseed oil glazing putty. Linseed oil putty requires 2-4 weeks drying time before painting with oil or alkyd primer.

  • It is recommended that visible hardware such as hinges, door handles, locks and escutcheons be appropriate to the period and style of the house.

  • Modern weather stripping, door sweeps and deadbolts should be as unobtrusive as possible when viewed from the exterior.

  • To be eligible for VHF funding, weatherstripping should be durable and not visibly alter the profile of the window/door or jamb. Some examples include:
    - Silicone tube seal set in a groove
    - Spring bronze
    - Interlocking metal

  • Recommended: Consider using historic “wavy” glass appropriate to the period of the house be used rather than modern float glass.

Storm Windows

Storm windows can increase the life of historic windows by providing protection from the elements as well as heat and sound insulation. To obtain the highest efficiency from a wood storm, the existing window should be well maintained, operable, tight fitting and retrofitted with weatherstripping.

  • VHF funds fixed and opening traditionally-constructed (jointed with through-mortise and tenon joinery) wood storm windows.

  • Storms must be attached with non-invasive hardware such as storm hangers.

  • It is recommended that all storm hardware be attached with stainless steel screws.

  • New storms must be primed on all sides and finish-painted before installation.

  • Storms must be painted in gloss or semi-gloss paint the same colour as the exterior face of the sash underneath.

    Recommended: Attach storm hardware with stainless steel screws.

Recommended: For safety reasons, some storms should be openable from the interior.

Download or print Windows, Doors & Storm Window Requirements

Quality Assurance Inspection by MPDA

To be eligible for VHF funding, preparation and painting must be approved by the Master Painters & Decorator’s As-sociation (MPDA). This nonprofit quality assurance company will provide the specifictions for your house and conduct inspections on your behalf to ensure a high-quality, long-lasting paint job. The cost for the MPDA inspector should be included in the painter’s quotes. MPDA involvement is a contractional relationship between the homeowner and the MPDA. VHF will not act as a mediator between the two entities. No funds can be advanced until all MPDA fees are paid, and confirmation that those fees have been paid are submitted. If you plan to apply for a VHF grant for painting, you must ensure the painters are familiar with the following documents when obtaining quotes:

Technical Specifications (revised January 2023)

Bidding & Contract Requirements


The following are general guidelines for painting a historic wood house:

  • Exterior repairs should be completed before exterior painting: i.e. foundation, roofing, drainage, windows, woodwork and trim repairs.

  • Woodwork repairs to rotten siding or window sills should be completed before painting.

  • Loose or warped siding or shingles must be nailed flush with surface using appropriate nails.

  • Loose or deteriorated window putty must be removed and replaced with linseed oil glazing putty. This will need to be done by others, as linseed oil putty requires several weeks drying time before alkyd/oil primer can be applied.

  • Doors and trim molding are to be MPI Gloss level 5 or higher.

  • Exterior painting should be done when air and surface temperatures remain above 10°C for at least 24 hours before, during and after paint application.

  • Wood moisture content should not exceed 15%; use a moisture meter.

  • No exterior painting should be done when the relative humidity is above 85% or when the dew point is less than 3°C variance between the air temperature.

  • Downspouts and other removable hardware should be removed prior to painting and reinstalled upon completion.

Painting Preparation

The most important aspect of a paint job is preparation of the surface to be painted. An improperly prepared surface will not hold paint. If done correctly the first time, then maintenance will be less frequent and subsequently much easier.

  • Proper safety procedures should be observed when removing existing paint or surface coatings..

  • Remove damaged or deteriorated paint to the next sound layer using the gentlest method possible (scraping and sanding).

  • No media (e.g. sand) blasting.

  • No stripping by torch

  • Ensure a clean surface, free of grease, dirt, mildew, etc. by washing wall surfaces, overhangs, porch ceilings and eavestroughs, inside and out, by hand with environment-friendly cleaners. Rinse thoroughly.

  • Washing is acceptable by hand and garden hose.

  • Crystalline deposits, which develop under eaves and protected areas, are a major cause of peeling; remove by washing and rinsing as above.

  • Power washing historic wood is not recommended and should never be used as a means of removing paint.

  • If power washing, ensure that operator is experienced with historic wood and that low pressure below 600 psi is used.

  • Water spray should always be directed downward and kept away from openings in the siding.

  • House must dry between washing and painting to ensure surface will not resist new paint. Wood moisture content should not exceed 15%; use a moisture meter.

  • Areas of heavy paint build-up, alligatoring, blistering, scaling and peeling, or areas which show a moderate to heavy chalk deposit must be thoroughly prepared to ensure paint adhesion. Remove to a sound substrate by scraping, wire brushing and sanding.

  • No grinding or heavy abrasive sanding that damages wood surface.

  • Glossy surfaces under eaves and protected areas that are not exposed to normal weathering should be dulled by sanding.

  • Where bare wood is exposed, prime with a high quality alkyd (oil) primer.

  • Loose or warped siding and shingles must be nailed flush with surface using appropriate nails.

  • Fill all crevices, nail holes and cracks.

  • All loose or split caulking is to be removed and replaced. Re-caulk with flexible, paintable caulking, and then prime.

  • Do not apply paint in direct sunlight.

Painting or Staining Shingle Siding

  • Shingle siding should be stained unless already painted.

  • Stains penetrate the wood surface and are less likely to peel.

  • On rough-sawn textured shingles, previously stained weathered surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned with a stiff fibre brush and a mild, biodegradable remover such as sodium hydroxide, to remove “dead” wood fibres.

Paint Types

  • A minimum of two coats of top-quality paint should be applied; film thickness as per material specifications.

  • Choice of paint will depend on condition of surface, the existing undercoat, location on house and design of house.

  • Window sashes, doors, frames and trim must be done in gloss or semi-gloss.

  • Doors and trim moldings are to be MPI Gloss level 5 or higher.

  • Old stains in wood will leach through latex paint. Wood must be sealed with an alkyd (oil) primer.

  • Half-timbering was likely meant to have a flat finish, to simulate an aged, medieval, rough-hewn look.

Historic Colour Schemes

Changes to colour schemes require approval through a Delegated Heritage Alteration Permit (DHAP) from the City. This is an expedited process and there is no fee.

A historically-appropriate colour scheme approved for funding by VHF must be one of the following:

    1.    Professionally-documented original colours. 
    2.    Historically-appropriate colour schemes. Please refer to Your Old House, True Colours and Historical True Colours for Western Canada for more information including correct colour placement. Be sure to understand what style your house is (e.g. Queen Anne, Italianate, Craftsman, etc.) when referring to these sources.

VHF Colour Scheme Requirements

Submit the following for consideration and approval by VHF:

  • Copy of DHAP application submitted to the City if colours changed.
  • Sketch or coloured-in photocopy illustrating colours and their placement on the architectural elements of the house.

Lead Paint

If you are planning to paint the exterior of your house, you should be informed about the dangers of lead paint. Lead was common in exterior paint manufactured before 1990. You should assume that any home built before 1990 contains some lead paint. Lead in paint becomes a hazard when it is breathed in as dust created by sanding, grinding or cutting, or is otherwise ingested as chips, flakes or from residue rubbing off onto food through dusty/contaminated hands. You, your children, your neighbours and the workers can be exposed to lead any time you breathe lead dust, fumes, or swallow anything that contains lead. While lead in paint can be a serious danger, it can be safely removed.

Worksafe BC requires proper testing and procedures for handling and the disposal of lead paint. VHF will reimburse homeowners applying for a painting grant for lead testing by a qualified hazardous material testing company up to a cost of $250. This should be completed prior to obtaining quotes for painting. Please contact VHF for more info.

Download or print Painting Requirements



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