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Old 05-12-2011, 07:58 PM
31,580 posts, read 32,501,229 times
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Which is better?

For some reason I have only lived in older houses, although I don't believe that was conscious choice. They just happened to be where I wanted to live.

Anyway, since all I know about is old places, I'll give you my list of pros and cons. First, the good:

(1) Old houses tend to have a comfy "feel" that I like. That's hard to define, but you can see it in the patina of old hardwood floors, mature landscapes, and lots of daylight. They're usually shady and cool.

(2) Old houses tend to be built in areas that were developed a long time ago and I enjoy the density and proximity to the city center.

(3) For the same reason, old houses are often more convenient to transit.

(4) I enjoy renovating and restoring. And not just for the house itself but becasue it feels like you're having more impact on your community.

(5) Sometimes you can develop a significant "sweat equity" by fixing up an old place.

(6) Solid wood doors, weird but interesting windows and lots of cool woodwork. Which will have to be painted.

Now the bad:

(7) It seems like something always needs fixing in an old house.

(8) Tearing out and replacing things like plumbing and electrical systems and re-doing kitchens can be extremely expensive. And unless you can tolerate construction crews firiing up a Skil saw while you''re toasting your bagel, you need to move out.

(9) Every old house seems to have a garage floor stained with motor oil.

(10) People a long time ago must have been really skinny or contortionists because their basement stairs are horrible.

And a couple of uglies:

(11) You're gonna need a new roof.

(12) Not a lot of closets, unless you build them.

So what do y'all think? Do you prefer an oldie, or is brand new your style?

Last edited by arjay57; 05-12-2011 at 08:21 PM..
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:10 PM
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I like old houses. And by old I mean 80+ years.

Yes, they have few closets and those they have are small.

Yes, bedrooms are small.

Yes, bathrooms are small and often strangely situated.

Yes, kitchens are small and not open

But I like the feel of history they have. I like renovating and working on an old house. I like having hardwood floors in every single room except the bathrooms. I like weird spaces like butler's pantries. I like the enormous number of windows. I like the weird pulley windows. I like the porches and balconies. I like the old neighborhoods and the density, etc.

I grew up in what I now realize was an older house. Built in the early 50s, my parents bought it in the early 70s and expanded it. I always felt like it was a new house. My cousins lived in an old historic home in Old Metairie, Louisiana and I loved their house. From the time I was about 12 I knew that I wanted an old creaky house one day. And I finally got one and I love it.

My dad? Hates em. Always asking me when I am going to trade up out of my "starter home". Forget the fact it's my second home. Or that it cost me a pretty penny. He sees that it's old and doesn't have modern amenities and he thinks it's a used house that I need to upgrade from. Booooo!

That being said...my sibs have newer homes and it's fun to visit them and hang out in the new big open kitchen and I marvel over the huge bathrooms. So, I can see the appeal in both.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:15 PM
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I like older homes vs new. Older homes tend to be in very interesting areas of town and the lot has not been cleared. I also like that you can do renovations that are unique and different to your home and not get the cookie cutter options that come with new homes. In my comparison to new home I am not considering a total 100% custom home.

However, if you are going to live in a house that needs renovating you need to like renovating your home. You also need to be someone that is happy to think about projects in terms of 5 year plans or more. You might do the kitchen this year and the landscaping next year and the basement after that. If you are someone that wants it all done today so you can move on with other things in life, an older home will be a chore and not a joy.

Last edited by lorilove; 05-12-2011 at 08:18 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:19 PM
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I'm in the "old house" camp too. I love the quirks like the retired fuel oil furnace, the cast iron pipes (that do rust, but still....), and most of all, the flotsam of people who have preceded me.

My favorite feature of my old house is the door jamb where no less than three families have recorded the ever-increasing height of their growing children. I even can tell you how tall some previous owner's four legged "Ellie" was in 1976.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by plessthanpointohfive View Post
I like old houses. And by old I mean 80+ years.
I don't think I've ever in my entire life lived in a house that was built after the 1920s.

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Old 05-13-2011, 06:30 AM
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Having first bought a brand new house back in 2007 and having just recently bought and moved in a house built in 1964s I am definitely loving the "old house" more.

Yes... small closets, small bathrooms, electrical that needs updating, etc. But me and my wife see it as a chance to put in our own touches to the home... in fact we are doing a complete kitchen remodel now.

I also love the neighborhood since the houses (even though it looks like they were built by the same builder) don't look exactly alike, and there are also new houses that have sprouted up to add more variety to the neighborhood.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:33 AM
Location: St Simons Island, GA
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I love old houses; funny to me, though, that the oldest house I've ever lived in was built in 1951. Go figure.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:42 AM
Location: Atlanta, GA
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My thoughts:

Old houses
Pros - any issues/settling were obvious years ago, typically more sound construction structurally, can renovate to your taste without feeling bad for removing newly built parts, typically on larger lots with mature landscaping/trees

Cons - typically have short basements and may not be adequately water proofed, you have no clue what hack jobs have done cheap/bad renovations previously, may have to upgrade plumbing/electrical which is $, have to worry about asbestos and lead with any removal projects, aging appliances, hvac, roof, etc. can cost a lot of $ as well.

New houses
Pros - feels clean and fresh, SHOULDN'T have any glaring issues, if brand new you can call the shots on materials, sort of a blank canvas, typically basements are huge and designed as living space, many advances of modern building will be present (especially for energy saving and moisture control).

Cons - usually cookie-cutter designs or really poor architecture (aka, bastardization of many "in" styles), poorer materials if very recent as builders look to cut corners, don't know what structural issues may rear their head, clear cut lots are sort of depressing and usually lots are smaller.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:00 AM
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Speaking of basements....our house has an old-fashioned basement....meaning it's made of dirt. At some point in its history somebody shored up the house by putting a concrete floor to support the old iron pilons. But the walls are still dirt. The walls of the house start about 4 feet back from the edge of the dirt wall, which apparently was code back in the day.

So, that's my house's foundation. It is very stable.

However, when we moved in the house came with tons of junk in the basement. We've slowly cleaned it out as we've needed the space to store our own junk. In the process of doing this we found an unopened crate of coal.

Yes, coal.

When we bought the place the upstairs was heated by a 60+ year old gas furnace, an old gravity system. It would be my guess that whenever they installed that old furnace was the day they shoved that leftover box of coal in the corner and forgot about it.

...and yes, we replaced that old furnace. It leaked CO like steam through cheesecloth.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:51 AM
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Yes, as several of you have said, one of the cool things about old houses is discovering what went on before. When we were replacing windows we found that they were non-standard. So we went to the Atlanta History Center and pulled the old building permits and found the original invoice. It was from Randall Brothers on Marietta St. and it turns out they still had the drawings and were able to readily make up new windows.

We also found a great cache of green Depression glass in the cellar. It was all boxed up and completely intact except for a couple of broken pieces which we were eventually able to replace. Once you set the table with period pieces you can easily imagine yourself back in the 1930s.
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