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Old 02-11-2012, 08:03 AM
 
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Hello ---- We purchased an older home in Virginia about four months ago and originally thought we'd be able to move into it by mid summer...However, do to some unforeseen circumstances it looks like we won't be able to move there/in until early next spring 2013. Now two things to keep in mind --- We have someone taking care of the lawn and exterior grounds. We also own the home completely outright. So our question for those with similar experience is -- Will the home's interior suffer any / much damage from being unoccupied for about 18 months. The location is inside the city limits and gets about 37 inches of rainfall a year and about 20 inches of snow....



Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:09 AM
 
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Well, just things like bugs, mice, etc. are a concern. Pipes freezing would be a major concern. Even with someone cutting your grass, it wouldn't be hard to figure out no one is living there and that might invite unwanted visitors. I would look into renting out the house until you can move in. Get a reputable property management company to deal with finding renters, etc.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:03 AM
Status: "Working on the lake house" (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: At the lake house in sunny Florida
15,989 posts, read 16,013,947 times
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Is your house in a neighborhood or is it rural?

Do you plan on visiting or staying in the house at all before you move in?


You do need to have someone you can trust to check the inside once in awhile. Maybe the Realtor who sold it to you can help you out. Water is a big issue. Pipes can freeze and burst in the winter if the heat is not on. You can also winterize the home and turn off the water to be on the safe side.

In the summer you will also want to set the A/C so it doesn't get too hot and you don't have mold issues. It doesn't need to be cold but you don't want it to stay too hot.

Then of course you might also need to worry about a break in or someone squatting in your home...that depends on your area.


With a house you just never know what may happen while you are gone.

My DH and I went away for a month from our NC home and came home to a water leak from a burst pipe.

One time in FL the water heater broke and flooded the garage.

Another time, another house in FL the AC went out while we were on vacation. That wasn't damaging but something did go wrong.

Another house in FL, while we were up north for the summer...the was a water main break outside which flooded our lawn and kept pumping water out for a $900.00 water bill that month. That was caused by a tree root breaking the underground water pipe.

Another house we left in the care of our maintenance man. He let the lawn go and cinch bugs destroyed it and the pool turned green. Obviously he did not do the job he was paid for.

Another time we found out the skylights leaked while we were gone and we had to repair some ceiling damage and fix the skylights.


My point is.....when you are away you just don't know what might happen.

On a good note. We have also left our home in TN for 3 winters in a row and the worst thing that happened was we had some dead flies and some spiders in the house.

We had another house that was for sale years ago and it sat empty for 7 months and we had no problems. The Realtor and our neighbor checked on it.


Basically....nothing could go wrong or you might get a surprise. Just make sure you have people you can trust to do their job and also check the inside of the house occasionally.

You can rent it and use a management company but that is no guarantee that the tenants won't cause more damage.

Good luck.
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Old 02-11-2012, 12:35 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle, originally from SF Bay Area
14,451 posts, read 17,381,414 times
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The biggest concern is that if something happens inside you won't know about it until the damage is far worse than if caught immediately. For more than 6 months I agree with renting it out, a few nail holes in the walls and wear on the floors is nothing compared to water damage, mold, or pest infestation.
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Old 02-11-2012, 06:15 PM
 
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I can't find the exact picture I was looking for but a couple years ago there was a news story about a family in our state that came home from vacation to find a pipe had burst in their house causing major water damage. A lot of the water had leaked out under doors, etc. and the lower back half of their house was one solid icicle. This photo is similar:

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Old 02-11-2012, 06:21 PM
 
3,528 posts, read 5,738,411 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
I can't find the exact picture I was looking for but a couple years ago there was a news story about a family in our state that came home from vacation to find a pipe had burst in their house causing major water damage. A lot of the water had leaked out under doors, etc. and the lower back half of their house was one solid icicle. This photo is similar:
All I can say is wow! Anything else I would say on seeing this would be censored!

TO the OP - definately have someone check in on the property at least ever couple of weeks. Have them run water down all the sinks and flush the toilets to keep the traps full. have them also adjust the interior temperture as needed. Before you do move in, I'd also suggest having a pest company come out, do an inspection and spray if necessary.
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:38 AM
 
18 posts, read 22,513 times
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Thanks for all the commentary so far. The water was shut off at the main over a year ago when the place was foreclosed on. And unfortunately my partner is dead set against renting until we can get out there.

My biggest concern is bugs and rodents....but we will employ an exterminator to treat the house before we move in.

It is a 112 year old Victorian that only had two previous owners since it was crafted. The house is all original---with the exception of updated plumbing and wiring-- and in immaculate shape....nothing like most foreclosures. The first owner built the home himself and he and his wife lived in it 71 years before they were both taken to a nursing home. Both outlived all their children The next owner lived in it 38 years until he was 84....and then he moved in with his children. The house is in a neighborhood...and a pretty good one. We are on the other side of the country...and that's the problem.


Again, thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:07 AM
 
43,011 posts, read 49,269,547 times
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Bugs and rodents are the least of the problems that can happen. Then again, an exterminator can't really do much to help you with rat droppings everywhere. Carpets and wood floors could be ruined.

Even with the water main shut off and the pipes drained, you want to keep the furance on at a low setting in the winter. All of that original woodwork can warp if exposed to extreme changes in temperature. That means doors and drawers that don't open/close properly and warped floors, etc. In the summer, you need a dehumidifyer or you won't risk just mold but blistering paint and peeling wallpaper.

Your partner should reconsider renting the property. Even properly winterized, many things can go wrong such as the roof leaking, the sewer system backing up into the basement. If nobody is there to see these things when they happen, your house could be destroyed by the time you move into it.

If the house has copper pipes, theives could break in and steal it all. Copper is worth a lot of money.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:10 AM
 
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We bought a house in WV to retire to but we live in MA, we have been going to the other house about every 3 months to work on it and stuff. Well we went at Labor day this year and did some work, left without shutting off the water.
We went down again at Christmas and guess what, no the pipes did not burst, but there had been a small leak in the pipe under the sink of the third floor bath, it leaked into the second floor bath destroying the wall and floor and then into the living room and dining roomm taking out ceiling and the antique flooring, as well as ruining two area rugs, also all of that had started to mould.



So yes there can be problems with an old unoccupied house. We also have ADT on that house but of course it did not pick up on this.
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:20 AM
 
Location: In the woods
3,286 posts, read 5,141,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathyKay44 View Post
It is a 112 year old Victorian that only had two previous owners since it was crafted. The house is all original---with the exception of updated plumbing and wiring-- and in immaculate shape....nothing like most foreclosures.
Since it's in "immaculate shape" you should try to maintain it by keeping it tempered -- heated, cooled properly, etc. That would mean either (1) keeping utilities on, and/or (2) a renter. Even though you're dead set against it, it depends on who you can rent to. You're in VA -- is there a university, large hospital, etc. nearby? Perhaps you'd be comfortable with an older grad student or medical professional or someone like that. Maybe just 1 person who can keep an eye on things? If it helps, find a good real estate company who does rentals and they can screen candidates for you.

You don't want people to break in and squat in there. People will definitely notice an empty house and it could be awhile before someone detects anything going awry. Even tho it's in a great neighborhood, culprits can drift in from adjoining neighborhoods. The damage could be extensive.

Quote:
The first owner built the home himself and he and his wife lived in it 71 years before they were both taken to a nursing home.
Even though it's been upgraded, you didn't mention the exterior, insulation, type of heating, etc. If it still has radiators as a delivery system, they can burst unless winterized. If it's the original exterior, is it wood? What kind of foundation (prone to flood or dampness)? Gutters, soffits, etc. can age and drop out, thus attracting criters of all kinds (i.e., birds building a nest in the attic, squirrels, mice, etc.).

I own a historic home too (80-yr old though) and live in a historic town (Winchester, VA). We have the gamut of 1700s - early 20th century houses here, in a range of condition, restorations, etc. Our house was also built by the original owner and occupied by their family and the condition (like yours) was exceptional. Many houses have been upgraded but in various states of upgrade/repair. For example, a house may have newly-installed central air but the plumbing system includes some galvanized pipes. The "upgraded" electrical system may have eliminated knob and tube wiring but have only 100 amps. The few problems I mention is something common with all of us here. I even had a problem myslef with some birds who made their way into our attic through a tiny opening somewhere near the roof. And I have a solid brick house and metal roof!
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