Old Houses Guides for New Owners?
September 11, 2019 4:33 AM   Subscribe

We bought a house! We're closing on a wonderful house, built in 1936. We want to be wise and diligent owners, but we've never owned a house and we know little about maintaining one. We want to have a manual for things like repairs, maintenance, winterization, common problems, etc. Ideally, it'd have a checklist and we'd just keep going through it. If you live in a well-maintained old home, do you have a go-to guide for it?
posted by skookumsaurus rex to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
I asked a question a few years ago that might be relevant.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:12 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Go to a used book store or goodwill and look for home improvement books. A lot of those old 1970's Sears handyman books are still floating around. The info in them is still very relevant to my 1940's built house.
posted by sanka at 5:32 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Building a little library is a good idea. But I find myself turning less and less to the home maintenance books and mostly just Googling the specific problem. There are YouTube videos on how to change a lightbulb, in case you need help with that, but also on common but more complicated problems like plumbing issues, plaster repair, etc. This Old House has lots of good stuff. Also, your state's energy efficiency program probably offers free audits that will give you a checklist of things you can do to reduce your energy usage.
posted by beagle at 5:38 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


We bought a 1930s house in the early 2000s that ended up qualifying for a major lead paint abatement grant from our city, which renovated large portions of our house (and made it safe for our then-toddler!) Depending on how a house has been maintained, your income, and your municipality, there may be opportunities to have the housing department inspect ( and maybe help stabilize or improve) your old house.
posted by bendybendy at 5:51 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


For specific repairs, Youtube videos have been invaluable to us- somewhere out there there is someone with your same exact problem who has figured out how to solve it. We usually cross reference advice with "This Old House" clips since they usually handle issues specific to older homes.

Good luck, and probably the most important (and hardest) thing is knowing your limits, and when to hire a tradesperson to do the work.
posted by larthegreat at 5:52 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Although it's not a whole-house guide, if you happen to have a steam heat system and want to understand why it's clanking in the night, or hissing, or not working, or just about anything else, nothing beats the Dan Holohan book We Got Steam Heat!
posted by bassomatic at 7:38 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]




I thought of The Gold Hive blog when I read your question; the author does a lot of really detailed posts about things like DIY repair of historic stucco, getting building permits for historic homes, and installing a new roof. Maybe not as checklist-y as you'd requested but perhaps useful down the road!
posted by stellaluna at 9:34 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Thanks to all, especially Zamboni! My Google-Fu was weak, but I appreciate all the help. Onward to adulting!
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 4:51 AM on September 12


Although it's not a whole-house guide, if you happen to have a steam heat system and want to understand why it's clanking in the night, or hissing, or not working, or just about anything else, nothing beats the Dan Holohan book We Got Steam Heat!

Came here to say this. That and his other book, The Lost Art of Steam Heating are absolutely necessary if you own a house with this kind of heating system.

If you have hot water radiators, he also has books about those, and his website Heating Help has a message board full of owners and experts.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:47 PM on September 12


« Older How can I access the data inside a dead external...   |   Why are my bacon and eggs tasting so foul so often... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments