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Council grants available for character home renovations

13 June 2008

Do you own or are you looking to purchase a character home that needs a bit of exterior maintenance work? If so, the Christchurch City Council has an incentive for you to get that work done.

On 1 July, applications will open for the Council’s Character Housing Maintenance grant programme. Owners of character homes can receive a maximum of 10 percent of the cost of external maintenance work, up to $5000 exclusive GST.

Last year, the Council received 28 grant applications. Twenty-five grants were offered, and 16 have completed their repairs and received their grants.

The Council wants to help retain character homes and continue its contribution to the identity of our local areas,” says Council Neighbourhood Planner Katie Smith. “We would encourage owners to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Most of the grant money has so far gone towards external paint or roof repairs, but funds have also been used for the replacement or reinstatement of stained glass windows, wood sashes and ornamental fretwork.

A passion for the past

When looking for a new home in 2003, Bill and Jane Demeter were determined to purchase a character house. Whilst Bill acknowledges that older homes do have their challenges - “the first winter was like living in a refrigerator,” he says -  he was appalled at the lack of quality and distinguishing characteristics in most new homes.

“I thought if I bought a character home and put some money into it, I could have the best qualities of both [old and new construction],” Bill says.

He welcomed Council’s efforts to encourage the maintenance of character housing in Christchurch. “I saw the grant as a gesture by the city to preserve the character of the area.”

The Demeters received their grant last year, which they applied towards the re-roofing of their property and new bargeboards. “The grant helped a great deal; because of it, we were able to get the right and the best people to do the work,” says Bill.

“And the grant process was very seamless, very professional, and the whole thing went quite smoothly.”

Doing it up right

Hans and Nicola Kriek were also aware of the downsides of owning an older house but wouldn’t be swayed from their desire for a character home. After moving here from Wellington, the Krieks spent over a year looking for just the right property.

“When we first looked at it, we knew it was a beautiful building, but we could see that it had more potential,” Hans says. “When we bought the villa, we were determined to do it up right from the beginning.”

The Krieks’ Character Housing Maintenance grant has been used to help pay for roof repairs, but also means they can complete other exterior repairs sooner than they might have otherwise. “We’ll be doing the exterior painting ourselves next summer, so getting receiving the grant will help us get that done, too,” Hans says.

“The villa will look good for decades to come. And the hard work has been done; now it’s just about maintaining what we’ve done.”

Picture Caption:

Renovations being carried out at Council grantee Demeter's character house

See picture


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