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Interest-free loans for renovations and repairs

Home owners who live in listed buildings are being encouraged to take advantage of interest-free loans for renovations and repairs.

Up to $100,000 per property per year is available under the scheme, which is not taken advantage of as much as it could be, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The interest-free loan programme, which began in 2001, is a way by which the Bermuda Government and Butterfield Bank can directly assist in the preservation and enhancement of Bermuda's architectural heritage,” said Senator Michael Fahy, Minister of Home Affairs.

“We want to get rid of the stigma of listed buildings being seen as a headache, and so we offer several incentives to anyone looking to renovate a listed building — for example, with listed buildings you will not be charged a planning or building permit fee.

“Additionally, applications are fast-tracked and typically take four to six weeks to process from the date of receipt.”

The loans are on offer to the owners of buildings listed as being of special historical or architectural interest under section 30 (3) of the Development and Planning Act 1974.

The funds can be used for the cost of major repairs, renovations, maintenance, restoration or approved alterations to preserve or enhance a listed building.

The upgrades can include work to the walls, roof, windows, window frames, shutters, chimneys, porches and doors.

If repairs are not possible, replacement windows, frames, shutters and external doors should be made from a material that matches the original.

The maximum repayment time for the loan is normally five years.

Topwood, in Paget, is among the listed buildings renovated thanks to an interest-free loan from the Department of Planning.

Owned by the Hatfield family, the Grade 3 listed home was built by William Gosling in 1952 and is part of the original Highwood property.

It boasts traditional Bermudian features including gable ends and a buttery in the entrance.

Stratton Hatfield said: “We didn't want to use PVC or aluminium and decided to go with wood to preserve the look of the property.

“The project amount was not inexpensive and we required a loan to complete the works. Our architect and some friends informed us of the interest free loan scheme and we commenced the application process.

“After submitting three bids from contractors we received approval from the Department of Planning and were able to approach Butterfield Bank with a certificate. Since then we have worked with Butterfield to secure an interest-free loan to fabricate and install 32 new windows in the house made with Accoya maintenance free wood built on-Island. The loan process took about two months.”

Homeowners Chris and Holly Flook are also taking advantage of an interest-free loan to assist with the cost of renovating their Grade 1 listed home, Ambleside.

“Our home was built between 1750 and 1780,” Mrs Flook said. “The building had fallen into disrepair over the years and we felt committed to saving this very special place.

“Written history leads us to believe the single-room structure housed the St David's lighthouse keeper at one point.”

Their refurbishment included replacing deconditioned doors, windows and an old bread oven.

Loans will not be given for an extension or addition to a listed building that is not part of a restoration or does not preserve or enhance the character of the building.

This will be determined by the Historic Buildings Advisory Committee.

Funding will not be available for work to the interior of a building, unless for structural work or to preserve an exceptional period feature, such as a staircase.

Those interested in applying for a loan should contact the Heritage Officer, Richard Lowry, at rmlowry@gov.bm or call 297-7781.

State of disrepair: Owners of the historic Queen of the East building on East Broadway would be eligable for the $100,000 loan scheme

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Published July 02, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 02, 2014 at 11:24 am)

Interest-free loans for renovations and repairs

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