Tuesday, May 27, 2014

If you can move this 3,000-square-foot, Victorian Toronto coach house, it’s yours

This "moving coach house" in Toronto was recently reviewed in the National Post 

A 3,000 square-foot Victorian coach house in downtown Toronto can be yours — for free — but only if you can move it somewhere else. “It’s a happy-sad news situation,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam, who first advertised the unusual real estate offer on Twitter Tuesday morning. Ms. Wong-Tam and the property owners are trying to find the two-storey brick structure, built in 1889, a new home so it does not face demolition. “The sad part of course is that we’ll lose the coach house.”

The property, on Isabella Street in the Jarvis and Wellesley area, is owned by Casey House, a palliative care centre for those afflicted with HIV and AIDS, and is being used as medical offices for their facility, which is just across the street. Casey House plans to use the site to construct a new care centre. The Isabella St. coach house, however, does not fit into the plans for the new facility and faces demolition in October. Casey House CEO Stephanie Karapita said that if someone does take the coach house, they can have it in either July or August.

Completion of the Casey House redevelopment is expected to be “towards the end of 2016,” said Ms. Karapita. Toronto real estate agent Arnella Renda says the property was last sold in 1991 for $1.9-million. The property that holds the add-on garage was sold in 1993 for $795,000. The land value of the property is worth more than the house itself. “It will be an expensive proposition up front,” said Ms. Wong-Tam, who would prefer that the coach house be kept intact. “These beautiful character homes are very, very valuable. Whatever the cost it is to relocate the property and to rebuild, it [would probably] increase the value of a neighbourhood.”

The red brick building has large glass windows, with hand carved wooden trim along the edges of the roof. It was styled to match many other Victorian era homes in the neighbourhood.
Of course, the hitch in this proposition is the high cost — and high risk — of jacking up an antique structure in a densely populated part of downtown Toronto and moving it, intact, elsewhere.
There is no average cost of moving houses in Toronto. Not only does it not happen often, but many factors affect each house differently. The existing foundation, strength of the structure and amount of work that needs to be done to stabilize the building are all factors that can increase costs drastically.
According to Rick Picard, sales manager at Nickel Bros House Moving, the L-shape of the building will pose the most trouble because it requires the building to be split and moved in two sections. This doubles the cost. He estimates that if it isn’t moving too far, costs would start around $100,000. “It’s not a simple undertaking,” he said. “All the stuff above ground has to come down. So the wires, trees, you name it.” The move itself would require road closures and special permits to carry the oversized load through the streets. There is also the cost of disconnecting and reconnecting all plumbing and electrical systems, the cost of the land where the building would go, and a new foundation, which can cost upwards of $20,000.

So the coach house is “free,” but the ultimate cost is far from it.

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