are uniquely decorated in a style reflecting a different 20th century decade, from the 1900s to the 1960s. The main floor features five lavish parlours and Michael pointed out the beautiful patterned wood floor that was installed at great expense throughout the dining area. Neil is a talented glass artist, and many stained glass windows throughout the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House feature Neil’s artwork.
Michael explained that he is very active in Nova Scotia’s heritage community and mentioned that he is a member of two historic organizations: he serves on the Board of Directors of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia whose mission it is to preserve and protect the heritage properties in the province. Both the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House are provincially registered heritage properties. Michael is also a member of the Provincial Heritage Owners Southern Maine Architect Association of Nova Scotia which encompasses 265 provincial heritage properties. Both inns have won several awards, including the 2005 Restoration Award from the Yarmouth County Historical Society and the L.B. Jenson Award as a contribution to the development and economic health of the Yarmouth Heritage Community.
In addition to the two inns, Michael is also currently renovating the property right next door to the MacKinnon-Cann Inn, another Victorian heritage property which he is thinking of turning into a restaurant that will serve the tourists and local community of Yarmouth. The fourth recently renovated property owned by Michael and Neil is a blue-coloured Victorian heritage property located right between the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House. In essence, Michael and Neil have single-handedly transformed an entire street block, rescued four historic properties and turned them into stunning examples of architectural revival.
As an astute tourism marketer, Michael Tavares is also the President of the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns, a collective marketing and branding group that promotes upscale heritage tourism in unique historic properties. Michael is generally responsible for the inn’s marketing while Neil’s responsibilities focus more on hospitality and innkeeping.
Michael’s restoration mindset is based on a commitment to the preservation of buildings and a respect for the historical integrity of the property. He approaches his projects with a certain humility which he says many renovators today are missing since they are only looking for the highest return on investment. He is a strong believer that the cultural renaissance and economic revival of a town begins with heritage restoration and then trickles down to Main Street.
At the same time he also recognizes the need for protecting his investments, and as a member of the local Yarmouth Town Planning Council he has a chance to participate in shaping the future of this town. Michael and Neil have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless thousands of hours in their heritage properties and business ventures. Their efforts make a significant contribution to the economic well-being of the town.
Concerns for existing structures
It is important for owners of older properties to check with their local building and zoning departments prior to pursuing any construction or repair activities, not only to ensure what permit requirements may be necessary, if any, but also to obtain knowledge of any pre-existing conditions or new requirements that may affect the project or use. Any use or structure that does not conform to current codes or requirements for similar uses or structures would be considered non-conforming or that which does not conform. For example, in Florida, there are windstorm requirements for the installation of shutters or safety approved windows for new construction due to the changes in the Florida building code due to need for building safety from hurricane force winds and related effects of these storms. For an existing structure with older windows that do not conform to the latest safety standards, if the replacement of these windows becomes necessary, in order to meet this requirement, it may be required to upgrade all the windows or provide proper window safety coverings installed over the windows on the entire structure. Because of the life-safety and property protection nature of this requirement the existing windows on your property may not be grandfathered-in due to this requirement. However, the local building department would be able to advise if an exemption to this requirement would be allowed for only minor repairs for broken window panes or a replacement of only one window is needed.
Another scenario could involve the repair of an existing accessory structure, such as a fence, where there has been a change in permit requirements or new restrictions limiting size or location of new fences, the grandfathering provision may also not apply. Just because the fence may already be in existence and previously permitted, modifications or major repair may constitute adherence to any new regulations or requirements adopted by a local jurisdiction, change in building or zoning code or sometimes even a local neighborhood restriction as an architectural guideline or neighborhood enhancement standard. Often when existing structures are not in conformance with current code, such as one that may restrict the location of new fences in front yards, when an existing fences that are located in front yard need to be replaced, this may cause this existing fences to now be required to conform to the current neighborhood standards. Unless there is a minor repair provision, usually repairs to an existing structure that exceeds a preset percentage of the structure, such as a certain value of the work such as exceeding 50% or more or the area of the structure or value of the work or if a new building or zoning permit is required will require the structure to now be brought into conformance with current code requirements. This is how a neighborhood progresses towards all properties conforming to current neighborhood standards by requiring adherence to current codes when it makes sense and only exempting those properties that truly remain grandfathered-in by maintaining their nonconforming status either because no major repair or modifications requiring permits where necessary or changes to the a structure or use have remained within prescribed limitations. Be very wary of any contractor that tells you that a project does not require obtaining any permits or local jurisdiction approvals or homeowner association reviews unless it is for minor repairs or you are absolutely sure that it does not because if it does or it may affect a grandfathering status, it may cost you more money and headache in the long run if it is to be corrected after the fact.