Vancouver Heritage Foundation Weekly: Vancouver Specials Re-Imagined


The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.

A Re-interpretation of a 1961 Original Special on tour this Saturday

What is people’s usual reaction when a Vancouver Special is mentioned? Animosity? Aversion? Or, an
appreciation of the potential coolness in these houses? Join us on Saturday September 22nd to check
out 5 reimagined and renovated Specials, where the homeowners maximized their potential! Aside from there being roughly 10,000 of them in Vancouver, they are unique to the Lower Mainland and five residents are going to share just how awesome they can really be. Our Vancouver Special house tour highlights this once infamous and now lovable building style by showing examples of how they have been updated to look contemporary, and insulated and often mechanically retrofitted to be super energy efficient. Specials were originally intended to be economical starter homes, and in today’s real estate market, their adaptability to being two living units makes them attractive – half the home can be made into a rental unit to help with that mortgage. As single or two family dwellings, the Vancouver Special offers a lot of space and flexibility – you will be blown away with how adaptable, modern and truly awesome these houses can be!

Come join us this Saturday for the 4th Annual Vancouver Special House Tour  1-5pm, and spend the afternoon exploring 5 Van Specials in the West and East sides of the city!

Ooh-la-la updated kitchen space

What is a “Vancouver Special”?

Some say it derives from the “Rancher” turned sideways, to adapt to Vancouver’s narrow lots. Popular and quick to build, thousands of “Vancouver Specials” were constructed in the 1960s and 70s in neighbourhoods all over the Lower Mainland, and have become a dominant house type in Vancouver. We are excited to see this stock gain respect and value, so Specials are retained and not sent to the landfill. The highest volume of landfill today is coming from demolished buildings.

If you’ve not been inside a revamped Special, come out on Saturday, and let us know what you think.  We think Vancouver Specials are pretty awesome, and hope you will too!

Here’s a photo of tour goers enjoying a fabulous backyard on last year’s 2011 Van Special House Tour

On tour this year, a 1969 classic Special radically updated!

Click here to buy tickets. You can pick up your ticket at our office #402- 510 West Hastings (at Richards) until Friday 5pm. After that it’s TOUR DAY:  Sat 22nd,  drop by our Info Booth & Ticket Sales/Pickup  from 12-3pm at the SE corner of Trout Lake Park, near E 19th Ave and Gladstone (a block or so away from one of the houses on tour!). Call us at 604.264.9642 if you have any questions! We’re always happy to chat!

And, if you live in an awesomely renovated Special, or have seen some amazing renos in your neighbourhood, let us know! We’re always looking for houses and awesome owners who will share their special Van Special on future tours!

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Vancouver Heritage Foundation promotes the appreciation and conservation of our city’s historic places for current and future generations.