Character merit assessment

A character merit assessment reviews the front and street-facing sides of a house to determine if it retains character features.

Apply for assessment before renovating, redeveloping, or demolishing a house built before 1940.  

Why you need an assessment

An assessment determines:

  • If a house is eligible for conditional aspects of zoning, such as additional floor area
  • The level of recycling required if a house is going to be demolished

In R1-1, an assessment is not required to determine eligibility for new building options or recycling rates. It is only required if the applicant is pursuing an (optional) character house retention proposal.

Project scope and documentation

Read the administrative bulletin (838 KB) to get direction on the general scope and documentation needed for projects proposing the retention and renovation of character merit buildings.

Character house features

Character buildings can be defined by a number of criteria.

Some zones – RT-3, RT-7/8, RT-10, RM-1, and RT-11 – use the construction date as the first measure of character merit.

Character feature examples

By City of Vancouver

In most zones, any building constructed before 1940 is considered a character building if it has surviving authentic or period features.

  • Original massing

    By City of Vancouver

    Overall shape, form, and size of the house.

  • Primary roof form

    By City of Vancouver

    Shape of the original roof and dormers (windows that project from a sloping roof).

  • Entry

    By City of Vancouver

    Original open front porch or veranda, or only partially filled in, or other original entry feature.

  • Cladding (exterior wall materials)

    By City of Vancouver

    Original cladding or replacement exterior wall material consistent with pre-1940 house.

  • Window openings

    By City of Vancouver

    Original location, size, and shape. The windows themselves do not necessarily need to be original.

  • Period details

    By City of Vancouver

    Examples include fascia, window casing or trim, eave brackets, soffits, exposed beam or joist ends, half-timbering, decorative shingling, porch columns, original wood doors, entry transom or sidelights, decorative or feature windows (special shapes, bay windows, crafted or leaded glass), stone chimneys, piers or foundations, secondary porch, turrets, etc.

  • Streetscape (context)

    By City of Vancouver

    House is part of a streetscape with 2 or more character houses.

Special considerations

In these special cases, conditional zoning provisions may be supported at the discretion of the Director of Planning.