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Old 09-27-2007, 08:44 AM
 
458 posts, read 2,133,337 times
Reputation: 105

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As I search the internet for properties, I keep being drawn to charming houses made of stone and/or brick that are older homes. Are these generally hard to maintain? What are the red flags to look for with these kinds of homes? Also, what about log cabins (which I haven't really seen in my modest price range.) Are those a headache? I'm interested in something with character and charm and the newer developments are a bit dull to me, but we are not the handiest family in the world and don't want a money pit.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Far Western KY
1,833 posts, read 5,873,385 times
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Stone - look for weak, loose morter and settlement cracks and or shifting of the stone, crack for water damage and drainage.
Log homes ... nice and high maintenance. If you are not handy steer clear of these home, much wood upkeep, sealing, cleaning, checking chinking, etc etc ... but I like them.
Stone can be a lot of upkeep as can any house, the main thing is to buy what you can afford and afford what you buy ... meaning being able to maintain it properly.
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:02 AM
 
458 posts, read 2,133,337 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davart View Post
Stone - look for weak, loose morter and settlement cracks and or shifting of the stone, crack for water damage and drainage.
Log homes ... nice and high maintenance. If you are not handy steer clear of these home, much wood upkeep, sealing, cleaning, checking chinking, etc etc ... but I like them.
Stone can be a lot of upkeep as can any house, the main thing is to buy what you can afford and afford what you buy ... meaning being able to maintain it properly.
Thanks for those tips--I think I will end up steering clear of log cabins after all...it's a romantic idea anyway:-)

I am wondering if any standard home inspector can handle an older stone home or if I would need to get a specialist of some kind.

Thanks,
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Kentucky
6,749 posts, read 19,964,144 times
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I dunno if you saw my post about the historic homes for sale but you may wanna check it out
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:25 AM
 
458 posts, read 2,133,337 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missymomof3 View Post
I dunno if you saw my post about the historic homes for sale but you may wanna check it out
Thanks, I did. They seem to be a bit far for me. I'm looking in and around Lexington. But thanks!
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Kentucky
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I didn't see where they were. Good luck to you!
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Old 10-03-2007, 01:44 PM
 
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Have you looked in "Fairway"? So pretty! I'm fanatical about late 20s tudors and that's the only place in Lexington where I've found them. I'm not sure about the elementary school, but for junior high is Morton ...
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:27 PM
 
458 posts, read 2,133,337 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenmom7500 View Post
Have you looked in "Fairway"? So pretty! I'm fanatical about late 20s tudors and that's the only place in Lexington where I've found them. I'm not sure about the elementary school, but for junior high is Morton ...
I'll keep my eye open there--it's seems to be a bit pricey for me, but you never know when something might show up!
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Old 10-05-2007, 10:49 AM
 
688 posts, read 2,773,837 times
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I'm certainly not an expert, but I've lived in both historic homes (including two in Lexington, one a craftsman style from about 1910 and the other a charming stone cottage from the early 1930's) and new construction homes. I certainly agree about the charm factor - we are currently in a newer home and it is pretty but doesn't have the grace and charm of the historic homes. We're tempted to buy an historic home, but we recently we always end up buying new and it is always for convenience.

We are actually pretty handy, but don't have a lot of time. And with the older homes, there is always SOMETHING, even in the most well-cared for home. So you either have to have a decent amount of $$ in your monthly budget to hire pros, or you have to be resigned to doing it yourself.

Some things to consider: plumbing, wiring, and other basic essentials, if they haven't been recently renovated, will likely give you headaches. Trying to run a modern home (with computers, entertainment systems, electric dryers, etc) on 1930's wiring is often hopeless. And original plumbing will break down, corrode, and even crack or leak. Water pressure is often a problem. And don't forget, it isn't just the interior plumbing, but the main intake and sewer pipes leading to and from the house underground. In one of our homes, the entire intake line needed to be replaced, and that consisted of digging up a huge chunk of yard, burrowing under the existing garage, and replacing parts of the driveway. In other words, a big mess, lots of heavy machinery, and lots of $$$. And it was certainly a job for the pros - we aren't THAT handy! Foundation problems can also be significant, and expensive.

We also found that our two older homes never were properly insulated (nothing in exterior walls, etc). We literally had a heating bill (in Lexington) of almost $1000/month because of an outdated heating system and no insulation. There was no easy way to add insulation to the walls - we were told our best option would be to drill holes in the plaster in each wall segment to blow insulation in. That left about 20 holes in the walls of each room that had to be repaired (with plaster!) and repainted. Some of the quirks that we adored in our original naive mindset, like the original coal chutes, ended up being a hassle when they let critters in and and warm air out. And add in factors like rotten roof trusses, cracked plaster walls, and oh-so-charming but highly ineffecient original windows, and you can get a handful of headaches very quickly.

Finally, we often had trouble getting approved for home insurance. Evidently, once a home is past a certain age, many companies just flat-out refuse to offer insurance on it.

Of course, a lot of the problems depend on the individual home. A home that has been well-cared for, carefully restored, and modernized through the years can make a big difference. Of course, those are the homes that you're going to pay the most for. And a good home inspector can help point out a lot of the issues. And yes, there are some that specialize in older homes and I highly recommend using one of them because the issues are so unique.

One of the benefits to an older home is that it's particular kinks and quirks are pretty obvious. For example, if the ground settles too much and knocks the foundation off, it will be clearly evident after 50+ years. A newer home? You never know what kind of issues might arise until after the home has aged and settled a bit. Same for the neighborhood/surrounding areas. For example, when you look at older homes in Lexington you can get a clear idea of the neighborhood and whether it is well-kept or rundown. Newer neighborhoods are always iffy - their long-term standing seems very volatile and dependent on many things that aren't under your control.

We would certainly consider buying an older home in the future. But, we would need to be able to comfortably afford both the initial price and also a hefty maintenance fund. Unfortunately, when you take into consideration those factors, it can eliminate a lot of options. In the meantime, we are enjoying our modern air conditioning, low utility bills, and fresh new kitchens and baths of our newer home!
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:35 PM
 
458 posts, read 2,133,337 times
Reputation: 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by nlschr0 View Post
I'm certainly not an expert, but I've lived in both historic homes (including two in Lexington, one a craftsman style from about 1910 and the other a charming stone cottage from the early 1930's) and new construction homes. I certainly agree about the charm factor - we are currently in a newer home and it is pretty but doesn't have the grace and charm of the historic homes. We're tempted to buy an historic home, but we recently we always end up buying new and it is always for convenience.

We are actually pretty handy, but don't have a lot of time. And with the older homes, there is always SOMETHING, even in the most well-cared for home. So you either have to have a decent amount of $$ in your monthly budget to hire pros, or you have to be resigned to doing it yourself.

Some things to consider: plumbing, wiring, and other basic essentials, if they haven't been recently renovated, will likely give you headaches. Trying to run a modern home (with computers, entertainment systems, electric dryers, etc) on 1930's wiring is often hopeless. And original plumbing will break down, corrode, and even crack or leak. Water pressure is often a problem. And don't forget, it isn't just the interior plumbing, but the main intake and sewer pipes leading to and from the house underground. In one of our homes, the entire intake line needed to be replaced, and that consisted of digging up a huge chunk of yard, burrowing under the existing garage, and replacing parts of the driveway. In other words, a big mess, lots of heavy machinery, and lots of $$$. And it was certainly a job for the pros - we aren't THAT handy! Foundation problems can also be significant, and expensive.

We also found that our two older homes never were properly insulated (nothing in exterior walls, etc). We literally had a heating bill (in Lexington) of almost $1000/month because of an outdated heating system and no insulation. There was no easy way to add insulation to the walls - we were told our best option would be to drill holes in the plaster in each wall segment to blow insulation in. That left about 20 holes in the walls of each room that had to be repaired (with plaster!) and repainted. Some of the quirks that we adored in our original naive mindset, like the original coal chutes, ended up being a hassle when they let critters in and and warm air out. And add in factors like rotten roof trusses, cracked plaster walls, and oh-so-charming but highly ineffecient original windows, and you can get a handful of headaches very quickly.

Finally, we often had trouble getting approved for home insurance. Evidently, once a home is past a certain age, many companies just flat-out refuse to offer insurance on it.

Of course, a lot of the problems depend on the individual home. A home that has been well-cared for, carefully restored, and modernized through the years can make a big difference. Of course, those are the homes that you're going to pay the most for. And a good home inspector can help point out a lot of the issues. And yes, there are some that specialize in older homes and I highly recommend using one of them because the issues are so unique.

One of the benefits to an older home is that it's particular kinks and quirks are pretty obvious. For example, if the ground settles too much and knocks the foundation off, it will be clearly evident after 50+ years. A newer home? You never know what kind of issues might arise until after the home has aged and settled a bit. Same for the neighborhood/surrounding areas. For example, when you look at older homes in Lexington you can get a clear idea of the neighborhood and whether it is well-kept or rundown. Newer neighborhoods are always iffy - their long-term standing seems very volatile and dependent on many things that aren't under your control.

We would certainly consider buying an older home in the future. But, we would need to be able to comfortably afford both the initial price and also a hefty maintenance fund. Unfortunately, when you take into consideration those factors, it can eliminate a lot of options. In the meantime, we are enjoying our modern air conditioning, low utility bills, and fresh new kitchens and baths of our newer home!
That is so very helpful. I have a romantic idea of owning an older home, but a small budget and a less than handy skill set. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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