Typically, when a family moves, the house stays put and the family goes elsewhere. For Tony Dean and Yvonne Perrault, they quite literally moved the four walls and roof.
The couple recently became the proud owners of the Copper Cottage, a 1908 heritage home that has now been moved three blocks away from its original location to avoid demolition.
“It just feels like home for us,” Perrault said.
Dean and Perrault, both grew up in heritage homes and both of their mothers (Stella Jo and Barb) were stalwart advocates for heritage while serving on City of North Vancouver council.
The couple were mid-way through the planning process for building a new home when they saw a story in the North Shore News, reporting that the Copper Cottage at was slated for demolition unless someone came to pick it up in a hurry.
“And we immediately changed our plans,” Dean said. “I honestly felt that my late mom Stella was channelling through the North Shore News. You know, ‘It'll be sustainable. Go with heritage.’”
Dean and Perrault even salvaged some original shrubs from outside the Copper Cottage. The mature trees that had to come down for the move have been milled and the lumber will be used for the restoration of the interior.
Over several days this week, contractors from Nickel Bros jacked the house up onto steel I-beams and then attached wheels to the frame, essentially making a custom flatbed trailer. On Friday morning, they hauled the home at about two kilometres per hour from its original location on the 300-block of East Ninth Street to its new home on the 500 block of East 10th. There, it will share the lot with a 1916 home at the back of the property.
During the morning of the move there was a circus-like atmosphere in the area. The City of North Vancouver closed the streets. Neighbours poured out onto the sidewalks to snap pictures with their phones. Utilities workers used long poles to gently raise telephone and hydro wires so they wouldn’t get snagged on the roof. A reality TV crew was on hand with drones and cameras to document the move. As the convoy passed by Ridgeway Elementary, another heritage landmark, teachers brought their students out to watch.
When word of the “free” house got out, North Shore Heritage got 60 expressions of interest. But Dean and Perrault had the wherewithal to get the move done the fastest. It typically takes about six months to find a new owner, get all the permits and make the move happen. This took closer to three.
“I just gave them the loonie this morning,” Dean said.
But out-door-costs are substantially more. As home moves go, this one was relatively simple and came at a cost about $70,000. By the time you factor in renovations, a new foundation and permit fees, it’s about on par with building new, Dean said. A recycled home can typically be delivered and installed by Nickel Bros for $75 to $120 per square foot.
Still, Perrault said she would recommend it for heritage lovers.
“For us, it's worth it. We love this vintage house. It's part of North Vancouver history,” she said,
As a rule, North Shore Heritage prefers to see homes kept where they are and restored but this was the next best thing, said Jennifer Clay, vice-president of the group.
“The provenance of a house is important too, so the closer it can stick to its original location, the better,” she said, “If it was going to get demolished anyway, it's the best possible solution to relocate the house within the same general area where it gets to go to the front of the property where it can continue to be appreciated by the general public. Hopefully for years to come.”
Those who missed out on the Copper Cottage now have a shot at another character home. The 1000-square foot 1951 King Residence on the 700-block of East 15th Street has a date with a bulldozer in May.
“We are desperately looking for a taker,” Clay said. “It's one of the few West Coast Modern houses in the city.”
Anyone with an interest in the recently renovated home should contact the group via northshoreheritage.org