Moving a house in the Dunbar area of Vancouver to save it from Demolition

Dunbar character home Vancouver
Dunbar character home

Our latest residential home build/development has had an
interesting start compared to the others. Typically new homes are designed and built to satisfy demand in the market and ultimately replace old homes that have little value left. These homes are demolished to make way for something that is better designed with energy efficiency in mind.

On this site, just west of Dunbar, there was a beautiful 1915 character home that was in great shape considering its age. So much so that the city of Vancouver identified it as having heritage significance and placed it on the Heritage “B” Registry. After several meetings with city development and heritage planners we learned that an owner of a house that has been listed on the Heritage “B” Registry in an RS zone has the option to demolish it if they are building a new house that satisfies outright use under the applicable City of Vancouver Zoning Bylaw (in this case RS-5).

Although we were free to demolish the house we wanted to explore all options of retaining it into a new build first, as we have done on similar projects;(Glenliving) and (La Tessa). In this case, the cost to raise the house enough to build a new foundation, full height basement, new roof and extended dormers for increased living space upstairs, and an addition on the rear of the house for more space on the main while structurally opening up the floorplan, was cost prohibitive considering the estimated market value upon completion.

The heritage planners understood the constraints we were dealing with and appreciated our proactive approach of including them in our development process. After we determined the house had to go in order to allow for a new build we pursued two options simultaneously.


We contacted Nickel Brothers, a house mover we have used in the past on house raises to find a buyer for the house and move it to a new owners site. This is a huge undertaking and the chances of everything working out perfectly to move the house were not great, but we were anxious to pursue as it would be very fulfilling if it was indeed feasible. The way the deal works on these types of arrangements is Nickel Brothers takes care of everything including insurance and risk for the house raise and move. They receive all proceeds from the sale of the house and in exchange we have a house removed from our site at no cost to us.


In order to pursue with our building permit for the new home, a demolition permit had to be obtained as well, as we would have had no choice but to demolish if the house could not be moved. We felt the best we could do if we had to demo the house was recycle the materials that would normally go to a landfill. The city of Vancouver recently introduced advanced deconstruction permits that are awarded to builders prior to a building permit being issued. The caveat is for the builder to follow a controlled process of recycling 75% or more of the materials from the original house that would normally be sent to the landfill. As per our application to recycle the house we were granted the 2nd ever advanced deconstruction permit in Vancouver.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to use the demolition permit and are excited to go with our first option and be a part of the house move on July 26th…

Here’s a quick article featuring the move in The Province with a bit more info on what is involved. Read more.

For those of you looking for houses for sale in Vancouver, this Dunbar home will be be hot on the market very shortly! We have been working in conjunction with The Wilson Ho Group to market and sell the new Dunbar homeSee more for information about the new home!