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Old 08-06-2014, 09:38 AM
 
6,498 posts, read 8,230,370 times
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I'll give my two cents on the closet space issue since my experience is apparently different. In my 95 year old small two bedroom house I feel like I have plenty of closet space. One bedroom has two average size closets, and the other has one closet that is only as wide as the doorway, but is 7' deep. There is also a coat closet near the front door, and the entire attic. All of it is original and I don't feel short on storage space at all (now living space on the other hand...)
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:37 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
41,040 posts, read 53,314,128 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferraris View Post
I'll give my two cents on the closet space issue since my experience is apparently different. In my 95 year old small two bedroom house I feel like I have plenty of closet space. One bedroom has two average size closets, and the other has one closet that is only as wide as the doorway, but is 7' deep. There is also a coat closet near the front door, and the entire attic. All of it is original and I don't feel short on storage space at all (now living space on the other hand...)
That's because your closets are so damn big.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,346 posts, read 114,951,466 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodjules View Post
Not all new homes are crap, and not all old homes were well-built. But modern tract homes built by the hundreds or thousands are often somewhat shoddy. A custom built new home or a home from a reputable developer who builds smaller quantities can often be as good or better than an old house.

Many older homes have been thoughtfully upgraded and have modern conveniences like central AC and updated kitchens and baths. My house was built in 1900 and had been fairly well maintained throughout its life. But as the former owners aged, they let some things go. They did install central heat & air and left the radiator system intact. Essentially they added the central system to all the rooms that didn't have radiators. The next owners replaced all the knob and tube wiring and put in dual pane windows. They ended up selling the house to me before finishing any other upgrades. I've remodeled the kitchen, added an upstairs laundry room, and insulated everything. Other than big closets, I think my house has the best of both worlds; the old school quality and craftsmanship and most of the modern conveniences you'd want in a newer home.

Not all old houses that need work are money pits, far from it. And just because a home is new or newer doesn't mean it will be problem free. You have to do your due diligence when buying any home.
Taking it from the top:

I disagree about modern tract houses being "somewhat shoddy". People have been saying stuff like this for decades; I remember my parents saying that in the 1950s! Now, these 50s houses are called "Mid-Century Modern" and they're considered quite chic, in some circles anyway. I would think that a large builder would have lots of experience and be able to obtain some good discounts. A small builder, OTOH, might not really know what s/he is doing. Of course, it goes both ways.

Many older homes have been upgraded poorly, too. I've been a visiting nurse. I've been in a LOT of homes, in different parts of the country, from Pittsburgh to Denver, and in between. Since visiting nurses visit elderly and/or low-income people in many cases, I've seen the good the bad and the ugly.

Many old houses are money pits. There are always surprises. I like to joke that I grew up in "This Old House" back in Beaver County. (Patterson Hts borough with a Beaver Falls address) I won't bore you with all the details. eschaton is right though, it's the closets, and the bathrooms that can be major issues. I once saw a "TOH" magazine with a cover-story article about a house just like my parents'. Yes, even in 1918, when that house was built, there were "cookie cutter" houses. This one was in Kentucky. I wanted to see how they made it a little more "user-friendly". My parents' house had no bathroom on the first floor, and no family room. Well, what they did was build an addition almost the same size as the house!

Agree about "due diligence".

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferraris View Post
Older homes are sturdy and generally hold up better to settling, leaks, and wear and tear. New homes are built to modern standards, so it's easier to do things like rewire, replace windows, replace/repair plumbing fixtures, replace doors, etc.
Seriously? Older houses have generally done a lot of settling, but that sometimes causes leaks and cracks. Wear and tear comes from a house being well, lived in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valleygal View Post
I live in Florida now and most consider anything built prior to 1998 "old". It makes me laugh cause that is still "new" by Pittsburgh standards.
LOL! In metro Denver there is very little in the suburbs built before WW II, and even in the city, not much from before ~ 1920.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:17 PM
 
6,498 posts, read 8,230,370 times
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Seriously? Older houses have generally done a lot of settling, but that sometimes causes leaks and cracks. Wear and tear comes from a house being well, lived in.
They can handle settling better because they are usually overbuilt. The lumber, steel, and masonry is more than what would be considered necessary today. Old homes were built with the expectation of water in the basement, so nothing is getting ruined there unless it's been remodeled. Even if water gets in elsewhere, it causes less damage to plaster and air than to drywall and insulation. Wear and tear is typically harder on laminate, vinyl, and linoleum than on hardwoods and tile, even new hardwood is supposedly less "hard" because it's not from old growth forests. Not all wear and tear is from living in a place; a slate roof is more reliable and requires less maintenance than an asphalt shingle roof; metal pipes hold up a little better to freezing, and if they do burst the crack is localized. Have you ever seen a burst PVC pipe? The crack can run until the next joint, which could easily be as much as 10 feet away.

I will concede that modern ball valves are better than old stem valves, though.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,346 posts, read 114,951,466 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferraris View Post
They can handle settling better because they are usually overbuilt. The lumber, steel, and masonry is more than what would be considered necessary today. Old homes were built with the expectation of water in the basement, so nothing is getting ruined there unless it's been remodeled. Even if water gets in elsewhere, it causes less damage to plaster and air than to drywall and insulation. Wear and tear is typically harder on laminate, vinyl, and linoleum than on hardwoods and tile, even new hardwood is supposedly less "hard" because it's not from old growth forests. Not all wear and tear is from living in a place; a slate roof is more reliable and requires less maintenance than an asphalt shingle roof; metal pipes hold up a little better to freezing, and if they do burst the crack is localized. Have you ever seen a burst PVC pipe? The crack can run until the next joint, which could easily be as much as 10 feet away.

I will concede that modern ball valves are better than old stem valves, though.
Oh, baloney! Building codes are constantly being tightened up. Nothing gets ruined in these old basements b/c no one keeps anything that could get ruined in them. At least, that was the case in my parents' TOH. My in-laws put a dehumidifier in their basement b/c they kept so much crap in it. (Omaha, NE)

I'm not a building professional, but that doesn't sound right to me. And insulation is good, not bad. After the "energy crisis" of the 70s, my dad was always trying to improve the insulation on his house, often to no avail no matter what he did.

Not all old houses have hardwood and/or tile (ceramic) floors. My parents' house didn't. That's why "wall to wall" carpet was so popular until recently. There haven't been any old growth forests in PA since about 1900, at the latest. Most old houses don't have slate roofs, though my parents' did.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
618 posts, read 646,135 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Taking it from the top:

I disagree about modern tract houses being "somewhat shoddy". People have been saying stuff like this for decades; I remember my parents saying that in the 1950s! Now, these 50s houses are called "Mid-Century Modern" and they're considered quite chic, in some circles anyway. I would think that a large builder would have lots of experience and be able to obtain some good discounts. A small builder, OTOH, might not really know what s/he is doing. Of course, it goes both ways.

Many older homes have been upgraded poorly, too. I've been a visiting nurse. I've been in a LOT of homes, in different parts of the country, from Pittsburgh to Denver, and in between. Since visiting nurses visit elderly and/or low-income people in many cases, I've seen the good the bad and the ugly.
Chic =/= quality construction. A large builder knows how to cut costs and corners. Discounts come into play but new construction is expensive for quality that can't match up to an older house. The finishes are cheap and the discounts are on the grade of material. New construction, if done right (and expensively) can of course exceed the standards of older homes. But between a beigey tract mini-mansion with vinyl windows, siding, laminate floors and 2 inch MDF moldings and a well-built stone or brick home from the 1900s-1920s, I personally see no contest. Which house will look better in 20 years? Of course there are endless variables and there are not absolute standards on either end.

You can argue there is the money pit potential in an older home, but that is where due diligence is key. The disconnect is often between calling an older home a money pit and assuming a new one is problem free. The problems will occur that can turn a new build into a "money pit" and in a shorter time frame with credit to the shoddier build quality. I am consistently amazed with friends here in Pittsburgh living in relatively new condos that have appliances, pipes, fixtures fail within 3-5 years of it being built. I suppose the expectation is to dispose of it as you would an older car.

In the end, build quality is all a question of money and for my money, I could not afford to have a brick foursquare build with a solid stone foundation, 3 courses of brick and all wood old growth floors and moldings. I can get that here for a fraction of what it would cost to build and for that, I am grateful.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Downtown Cranberry Twp.
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New construction by a quality builder, any day. Having the option of having it built exactly how you want is the best part.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
90,346 posts, read 114,951,466 times
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You can do "due diligence" till h*ll freezes over, and there will still be some surprises. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. When my family moved into our "This Old House" in 1956, at Christmastime the tree lights dimmed when someone went to make a piece of toast. Rewire time! This was 4 months after moving in. When the house was subsequently rewired, my folks learned it had also been piped for gas. Apparently the original owners did not think electricity was here to stay!
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
618 posts, read 646,135 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
You can do "due diligence" till h*ll freezes over, and there will still be some surprises. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. When my family moved into our "This Old House" in 1956, at Christmastime the tree lights dimmed when someone went to make a piece of toast. Rewire time! This was 4 months after moving in. When the house was subsequently rewired, my folks learned it had also been piped for gas. Apparently the original owners did not think electricity was here to stay!
Surprises happen in new and old houses. This is (or should be) obvious, but it seems like it's worth restating.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Downtown Cranberry Twp.
34,584 posts, read 13,488,154 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Schwabe View Post
Surprises happen in new and old houses. This is (or should be) obvious, but it seems like it's worth restating.
Certainly less likely in newer homes/construction.
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