Something about that old house
Are you in an older home? Are you about to buy, but not even thinking about an older home? Over the next few weeks I hope to write about some of my thoughts about the good and not so good things on buying old verses buying new. Many families are out house hunting for that perfect home. I've met many home buyers trying to decide between old and new. I have lived in a new house, a five year old house, and a house built in the mid 60's-- our final and forever home. All houses have their good points and their bad points but it really depends on what you-- the buyer, home maker and dreamer-- are looking for.
When Tim and I were young and first married, we didn't even think about buying an old house. We wanted something new! We wanted fresh paint, new trim, a new neighborhood. Everything new! We were too young to worry about anything going wrong. So we bought a cute little starter home that was built for us, move in ready! We lived there two years, and didn't have anything bad to say about the sweet little home. The truth is we were just in awe of another area. We wanted trees! We wanted a little more space and we wanted a neighborhood that would feel like we could stretch out our arms and say this is our piece of earth!
After a third move, we settled down with an older house in 1999 when our daughter was barely two years old. It was built in 1967 and it needed so much work! Many people get scared off by old homes like the one we bought, but my dad went along with me on the first look and he told us if we bought in the right neighborhood and got a good price the blood, sweat, and tears would all pay off in the end. Dad new a lot about property as he managed a finance company, and he also knew a lot about renovating. My granddad ,his father, was a contractor. While looking at this old house, dad started telling me stories I had never heard before. Like about how he used to go with his dad during the summers and help him when he would build not only homes and businesses but wine cellars for people. He would use knotty pine and dad recalled one with a captain's wheel in it. As dad told the story, he put his hand on the old den wall while we looked at the room. He told me NEVER paint over this wood-- it is something you just don't find anymore. Another den area was made from Solid oak panels. I did think that was really pretty and in a way masculine. Dad repeated that we should never touch the walls with paint. As we went through this old house, dad seemed to light up. He was pointing out how well built the house was. He pointed out the huge metal beams in the basement. The floors were all oak and it would take some sanding to get them back to their original beauty. He pointed out the marble entrance flooring and how much that would cost to reproduce today. There was a huge screened porch that needed work but dad told me right away how nice that would be and he noted the brick flooring. He talked about how it could be easily finished into living space some day. As we walked through he was talking about what a great house it was. All brick but the added closing of the screen porch. Dad loved EVERYTHING he saw. It was kind of funny how my first impressions of the old house changed. What I saw in the ugly wall paper suddenly became an image of painted walls and plenty of space to have a REAL living room area for all my collections. Or maybe future music room. The ugly, unfinished fireplace could be finished and those built in bookcases of solid oak could hold old books or anything else I wanted. The kitchen only needed new flooring and those old olive appliances could be painted till they needed to be replaced. I mean heck, dad said that was the Rolls-Royce of double ovens in the day. Those old bathrooms of 60's colors were not so bad when I realized they were all not too small, held solid marble counters,double vanities and had heated flooring. The wall hung toilets were something I had never seen and. I mean, think how easy it is to clean around them! Lighting hanging from chains were that cool vintage look. Every closet was of cedar! Huge bedrooms! I never would have thought it, but this old house was the home of my dreams!
As dad and I walked outside we looked around the old sad yard and my heart leaped. THIS was my blank canvas! The yard of all yards!! I had lots of space to garden and my imagination ran wild. Nothing we had seen had anything like this old home! Looking at the neighborhood it could not get any better. So next step: bring Tim.
As I mentioned, some of the features you might get with older home are larger yards! As in our case, we have over 5 acres in the heart of Clarksville. Other homes I have listed recently and in the past are anywhere from one acre to many acres. Not all older homes hold acreage but most have larger yards than the new neighborhoods we see today. Remember, you can change a house in many ways but you can not add land to it. You might find that many older homes have bigger bedrooms and larger family rooms, or they have divided rooms that just need a wall down to make them huge.. Sure, the bathrooms sometimes are not as big, but you are paying for that dead space in the bathroom in the size of a small bedroom. Though many people love those magnificent bathrooms, others may just want a bathroom of regular size if it means a trade off for something else. Besides you just need to look carefully and you may find the space to make that master bathroom larger in a few years when you invest in some upgrading.
Something else to consider when you get into an old house is the neighborhood. Usually they have plenty of trees that are already beautiful and mature. They have established shrubs and yards already happy with green grass. They may need some fertilizing, but hey you should do that either way, right?
These are just a few of the good qualities I love about an older home. I am not saying it is for everyone and my friends all thought we were nuts leaving our perfectly nice newer home in the lovely area we were in. But adding on would be costly and we could not see it as our forever home.
My childhood friend decided to go back to our old stomping grounds and buy near family. This is a huge remodel but they are taking their own time and working on it one day at a time. It may not be their forever home, but sometimes we do things to be close to our parents to help out in their senior years. I think they are doing a wonderful job. You can call it sweat equity! You may enjoy my friend Kathy's blog as they show progress every couple weeks or so on their older house they are renovating at Kathy's Blog
So next time you think about an old house think about the details. Think about what it can be again and not what people before you have done. You might see that old house in a new light.
"If you can dream it, you can do it".. ~Walt Disney