How much "trouble" will an old home be?
August 23, 2014 12:14 AM Subscribe
Looking at moving into the city from the burbs. Most houses in the areas we're looking were built in the late 1800s to early 1900s (through 1930). Trying to understand what living in an older house entails.
First house on the agenda - 1890s home, was a funeral home, some updates, some major repairs needed.
posted by [insert clever name here] to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have to move cityward due to health issues, and needing to get out of being isolated in suburbia. Most (all) of the houses in the desired neighborhoods are old. Old Old. Our current house is from the 1970s, the home I grew up in is from the 1950s, and my husband grew up in a home built in the 80s. I do have a small amount of experience in older homes, with grandparents living in two very old homes, but only limited recollection.
The house I've fallen in love with was a funeral home when built in the 1890s, and was a duplex not that long ago. Current owner fixed it up to some extent, but it still needs major repairs. The two big ones mentioned were the roof needing replacing, and the basement having water issues. Additional issues we've come to realize are that the house, because it was a duplex, has separate heat and electricity and they really need to be combined. Realtor made that sound like a not big deal but after speaking to friends and family, they helped me see the light on that.
My health is a concern, I have limited mobility (I get tired easily), but can navigate stairs as long as I pace myself. Plus, all major rooms are on the first floor - there is a first floor bedroom, bath, and kitchen along with living and dining room. Most of the living space seems to be in good condition, and is actually quite beautiful. A lot has been restored. Electrical upgraded (though they used the dumb waiter, which is a shame), and the "bones" seem good. But I've been advised by friends that older places are just an never-ending parade of problems.
Moving to one of these areas would be really good for me; I need public transportation and where I am has none. The area we're looking in has a lot of small shops interspersed with residential space, meaning I can get access to stores without a vehicle, something I can't do now. All lawns are small, meaning there is much less yard work which is killing us now. But I don't know if I'm trading problems with being isolated for problems with an older home with lots of repairs.
Assuming we could take care of the major repairs right away, how horrible is living in an older house going to be? Is it going to be? Other houses in that age range? There isn't much on the market that's been really completely redone, and we don't have money to strip down "to the bones" and rebuild, but think we could reasonably make an offer that allowed us enough to do the necessary repairs right away.
This is Milwaukee, WI, so weather is Hot in the summer and Cold in the winter. Some homes are broilers, others updated to forced air. The one I like has a broiler for the first floor and forced are on the second floor, from it's days as a duplex.