Homeowner says heritage requirements would triple cost to replace windows
The owner of a St. John’s property at the centre of a fight over heritage status says city hall’s requirements would triple his cost of replacing windows.
The owner of 133 Gower Street in downtown St. John’s, Lionel West, says he shouldn't have to put larger, more costly windows on his property because of heritage rules. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Lionel West — who ran for city council last fall — said Monday replacing the windows he has now on his Gower Street rental property with heritage committee-approved windows would require redesigning and restructuring the front of the house, while the windows he wants to put in would fit the current spaces.
“What they’re asking us to do is put in single-hung windows that are much longer and in some cases wider than the current windows we have there,” he said. “That means we would have to ask our contractor to basically restructure the entire front of our house. It means creating what they call new rough openings for the windows to go in. To do that, they’ll have to strip all the clapboard off the front and put new clapboard on.”
Interior work would also have to be done, including putting up new drywall and window coverings and redecorating. The job West wants done will cost about $2,500, and he estimates the work the city would require would triple that.
The windows he has proposed are, he says, in keeping with the heritage style of the neighbourhood, and he wonders whether the city’s heritage regulations are practical — or enforced consistently. “There are many kinds of windows within the neighbourhood,” he said. “Four doors down from the house we have, there’s a house that has windows very similar to what we want to put in.”
What they’re asking us to do is put in single-hung windows that are much longer and in some cases wider than the current windows we have there. That means we would have to ask our contractor to basically restructure the entire front of our house. Homeowner Lionel West
When the city’s heritage committee wanted to reject West’s preferred windows, he appealed to ward councillor Jonathan Galgay, and the resulting split vote at council allowed West an exception. Since then, city staff have told council that the city’s heritage regulations don’t allow for them to make exceptions, and councillors next week will vote on a motion to reverse that exception.
If the city does reverse its decision, West — who said he wants to replace the windows because his tenants have found them drafty — says he’ll have to talk to his contractor again.
“(We’ll) see if there’s any alternative in terms of trying to work around the issue and see if we can somehow make some adjustments inside the house and leave the current windows there,” he said.
“At this stage, we’re not prepared to spend that sort of money on the house, because we just don’t have it, and I certainly don’t want to be passing costs on to my tenants.”