In many areas of the country, houses are old… really old. While our friends in Europe might scoff at a mere 100+ years, that’s still a very long time for a building, especially in our constant-upgrade society. Many homebuyers may have a strong preference for new (or at least new-er) houses, with a focus on modern design and conveniences, and they do have cause for concern. Old homes can come with a set of unique challenges.
Quality Behind the Times
Let’s face it, even the best-built and maintained old home just isn’t up to modern standards in many crucial cases: plumbing, electricity, insulation, heating and cooling – time has only advanced and improved the methods, materials, and installation of these things, making them all safer and more efficient. Old homes need regular updating to keep them up to date with modern life.
Of course, updating is also pretty relative – a home built in 1870 could be completely modernized… in the 1970s. What might have been a great upgrade once is now a bewildering and problematic feature, and the choices past homeowners made are frequently not what modern buyers want: think everything from gluing asbestos-containing vinyl-like tiles over good hardwood or “why did they put the bathtub there?” Old homeowners have to keep an eye on what is a true need for replacement over what is a merely (if glaringly) cosmetic issue.
It’s common for successive homeowners to focus on their own upgrades and let the last owner’s round be “good enough” to live with while resources go to more pressing issues. Other hidden deficiencies or half-fixes can lurk in the shadows; from cut corners to purely overlooked items on the upgrade list. These can lead to a hodgepodge of renovation spliced together over many decades. Old home homebuyers can be frustrated by the strange mix of new-older-oldest, especially in vital areas like wiring and plumbing. While a complete re-do might be ideal, realistically most homeowners don’t have the means or the motivation to engage in such drastic measures. Like those before them, they have to focus on their own priorities and learn to cope with what can be lived with.
Age and Accumulation
Naturally, the older a home is the more issues it can accumulate. Given enough time, we all experience a greater number of aches and pains, why wouldn’t a building? It is easy to be overwhelmed by the vast number of small projects that increase with the age of a home. Like a swarm of tiny biting insects, these small problems and minor fixes can bleed a homeowner dry, both financially and emotionally. Old Home owners have to be able to prioritize and be patient, or invest in a massive overhaul, to cope with the accumulation of issues.
Old homes have many unique problems, but then, all homes have problems. Buying and old home can be a scary thing, but keeping an open mind, being aware, being proactive, and applying a bit (or more) of hard work can help a homeowner love their old home.
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About David Goldstein — David Goldstein is an Owner and Founding Partner of Colibri Real Estate, LLC. which operates online education providers Colibri Real Estate, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.