Author Topic: Old house club  (Read 1610 times)

jpdx

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Old house club
« on: July 31, 2018, 11:52:05 PM »
I live in a 106 year old bungalow. It's a lot of work but wouldn't want it any other way.

How many of you live in an old house? What do you love about it? What do you hate about it?

affordablehousing

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2018, 11:13:07 AM »
We just bought a 96 year old house and I agree OP that there is nothing better than a bit of history. There will always be thousands of condo-style new homes to buy, but the quirky oddities of old homes are just not being reproduced. I always cringe when I see "open concept" crap. People make just a series of little islands of furniture, and then use them just as they would with divided rooms, only without any coziness. As for the annoyances of dealing with plaster versus drywall, old wiring and lead/galvanized pipes, I'd trade it any day compared to living in a detailless box.

I can't wait for the next design swing when everyone starts putting walls back in and find their glulam headers sagged 2 inches.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2018, 12:53:30 PM »
TheHusbandHalf and I bought a 1915 house in 1980. It was at a time that mortgage rates were 12%, but it was almost exactly what we wanted, so we bought it for $45,000. It was closed up all summer because we were the only ones who even looked at it.  The woman who lived there was an invalid, had moved into a home, and the home wanted it's money, so we got it (they were asking 60,000). Her husband had died years before, and they never had any children.

To me, the main selling point was that the oak woodwork in it had never been painted and there were no indications that children had lived there (they had not). The only things that were done, from it's original condition were the bathroom was remodeled in the 40's, and the heat had gone from coal to oil.

Our intent was to work on it as the years went on and it was in the same school district that my Dad, and me, went to. It was on an acre of land with old trees, backed by 300 ft of floodplain (that has flooded 3 times , never to our property).

I love almost everything about this house, but I'm sure what I hate about it will come to mind eventually (like when THH comes home and I can ask his opinion). What I really love is that it had not been worked on, as we bought it from the original owner. I still hear stories about people buying old houses and having to deal with previous owners' remodels.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2018, 01:09:48 PM »
I grew up in a large historic house. It was beautiful and I adored its nooks, built-ins, secret buttons, stained glass, etc. My parents loved it too, but it became increasingly burdensome for them. As mentioned above, nothing could have a simple repair -one thing always led to countless others that would need to be addressed en route. Cost to heat and cool was crazy too. Its size and layers meant there was a lot to clean and fuss with.

I visited the new owners recently and while they, too, have adored it and made it even more stunning (decorating for its original period, etc), they're strongly considering selling per maintenance needs and heating costs.

The house I bought for myself was a 1940s build -I loved it like crazy, so much character, just the right size and shape. But ditto the matters of maintenance. I didn't want to spend money on that for the rest of my life.

I can't bear to live in completely boring box, but there are so many options between "deep character with major matters" and "boring box". My first choice is renting one of those in-betweens and have been doing so since.

Fishindude

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2018, 02:25:27 PM »
Yep, we live in a house that is at least 120 years old.  My great grand parents bought the farm in the 20's and the house was already there.  My grandmother and her sister (my great aunt) were raised in the house.   When they got older and their parents passed on, my great aunt land her husband lived there until their deaths.  We moved in in 1990 after six months of remodeling to make the place barely livable.   

We've replaced just about everything except the rock foundation / basement.   All new siding, roofing, windows, doors, insulation (it had none), HVAC systems, electric systems, new kitchen, bathrooms, interior finishes, etc.   Kept the old farmhouse look using cedar siding, rather than modern materials.  Also tore down two large barns and several other small outbuildings that were beyond repair and built new barns.

Nearly 30 years later it's a pretty nice house.   Probably could have built two new houses for what we've spent on this place, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2018, 06:12:56 PM »
We're in Ohio and one day I was lying in bed, and the earth shook. An earthquake they said, this was about 1982. A few weeks later we noticed the center of the house fell a bit and we knew we had to do 'something.'
The next winter my husband noticed there were old railroad RAILS down the road, by the tracks. He comes from a family of railroaders and knew they would just be scrapped.
In the middle of the night he went down and chained one to his pickup, on the icy road. Luckily the chains held because when he stopped, the rail kept sliding under his truck. He used my dad's dozer?backhoe? and slid it through holes in the basement walls and is still holding up the house!

The original house had no insulation in the walls, and a couple of inches in the attic We have added:
20” in the attic
We were doing the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and a central vac so the walls were going to be torn up anyways, so we just made the walls 2 x 6 from the inside.
In 1990 we added on – we paid someone to put up the shell, replace all the windows, and side the outside, so we did the same insulating there, and added a house wrap over foam insulation to the whole house. We have 2 furnaces, old and new, and each heats the new and old part. Now that the kids are gone we only heat and cool the old front if we are in that part.
I don’t know if our heat bill is reasonable, but it’s certainly manageable.

One of the things about remodeling an old house, doing it cheaply is not worth it. There’s just too much sweat equity to not buy good quality things.
When we bought this house, one of the selling points was that no one had attempted remodeling. Hopefully, the next people after us will come away knowing that  though the decor things are not their style, they would have a good base to work from. It took us longer, but the house was livable so we worked while we lived here.

This is an old photo of the original house. This was taken after we painted it, something we had to do to get our escrow money back from the bank. We had to fix an area of the soffit and we had to fix the ceiling in a bedroom where it fell too.

Our kids learned that it pays to wait for what you want, something they can use their whole lives.
Like we always say, a house is not something we have, it's something we do!

Jon Bon

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2018, 10:00:04 AM »
You can always make something new, it is much harder to make something old.......

bookguy

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 07:39:59 PM »
When I was married, my then-wife and I bought an Italianate Victorian that's at least 120 years old, possibly older. Supposedly, a woman back in the 1940's - the wife of the original owner - fell down into the cistern, drowned, and wasn't found for 3 days; some of the older folks in town think the place is haunted by her. (From what I was told, she was a mean, crabby old woman who would literally yell at kids to keep off her lawn).

Anyway, I love this house, even though it costs an arm and a leg to heat in the winter, nothing is true and plumb in it, and it always seems to need something. But since it's only me and sometimes my daughter and grandson who stay here, having all the room is nice if one of us needs some quiet.

The only thing I don't like about it is the unfinished limestone basement, where the main water shutoff is located and requires me to go in a crawlspace that has gravel I get to slide over.

Sibley

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2018, 07:35:31 AM »
My house, named House, was built in 1919. I may have a 100 year birthday party next year for House :)

Overall, I like old houses. I do not like plumbing (since every time I touch it things get more complicated). House is in good condition overall. Since I bought it, I'm basically repainting, undoing bad DIY, and doing maintenance/repairs that hadn't been done. Most of my problems are due to prior owners doing things badly, or just sheer age. House had been very well maintained, then the people I bought it from abused it pretty badly. I need to redo a bathroom because of their kids.

Better Change

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2018, 07:53:55 AM »
We're in the process of submitting an offer on a 98 year-old twin in the downtown area of a small city.  Our previous home was a 1958 mid-century modern.  We looked at shiny new townhomes over the weekend before committing to the century home.  Sure, they're shiny and gorgeous, but they don't have a whole lot of character.  They also backed up to a high school, and I don't particularly enjoy the sounds of the marching band and the floodlights on Friday nights during the summer and fall.

We're potentially getting a challenging spiral staircase, weirdly shaped bedrooms, an awkward second floor sitting room, and a rooftop deck!  They don't make them like that anymore.... :)

nkt0

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2018, 08:07:25 AM »
We own a ~120-year-old row house in Philly. It's small (850 square feet), but perfect for two people. Plus i have fulfilled my dream of a house with no lawn to manage.

Maintaining an old house can be fun if you have the right mindset. When we remodeled the kitchen (ourselves), we found old Polish-language newspapers under the floor, still intact. We were able to date the last remodel of the kitchen to Dec 26, 1958 from the newspapers. We also found some old bottle caps from non-defunct breweries in Philadelphia. It was a lot of work, but these little rewards kept us going throughout.

CanuckStache

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2018, 09:37:52 AM »
105 year old house. It's great, except with the renovation work we have to keep getting permits from the city, and they're killing us. Trying to make us update / upgrade things that have no business being upgraded in an old house. Example: "What kind of mechanical ventilation do you have?" - "We don't. It's 105 years old, there's a boiler with radiators". Or "What used to be in the basement? A garage?" - facepalm.

But we're slowly jumping through all the hoops and the place will be great once we're done the work. Our favourite is the dining room with original built in cabinets using old-growth wood. Literally, you cannot get wood with that kind of grain or style anymore.

Yesterday I was removing one of the original plugs (still a few knob and tube circuits) and found that the stud it was nailed into still had bark on it!

StarBright

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2018, 10:41:55 AM »
You can always make something new, it is much harder to make something old.......

^ I have a family member that I love dearly that was looking to move into my charming historical neighborhood. A really well kept craftsman up the road came up for sale so I sent them a link to the house. They said - "it would be okay if we painted all the woodwork white and got rid of some of those book cases" (which were all original built ins). They also wanted to remove the brick pillars on the front porch (also original) and replace with white columns.

I am now praying they don't buy that house and will not make the mistake of sending them any more links! Some people aren't meant for old houses.

We live in a 3/4 Cape Greek Revival that was originally built (we think) 170 years ago. We think the floors are from the late 1800's though (based on the nails) and the rest of the house was pretty thoroughly updated in the early 2000s so we aren't sure what was lost. We know from our neighbor that has lived here since the 50s that house exterior looks the same as it always has and that the owner in the 90s did major foundation work on it (none of the original foundation remains).

Sometimes I am sad that most of the original parts of the home have been lost to time but I do love the layout, and my oddly shaped bedroom door and am grateful that at least the exterior exists as the original owner intended.

*edited to change years from 150 to 170 because I apparently think it is still the year 2000.

The attached pic is basically what my house looks like. It is so quirky and I've never seen houses that look like it outside of Ohio.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 02:39:00 PM by StarBright »

CanuckStache

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2018, 02:22:57 PM »
You can always make something new, it is much harder to make something old.......

\ They said - "it would be okay if we painted all the woodwork white and got rid of some of those book cases" (which were all original built ins). They also wanted to remove the brick pillars on the front porch (also original) and replace with white columns.

Ug - yeah. That's what attracted us to our house, the fact the previous owners left the original built-ins and trim in tact and not painted over white on everything. It's definitely a little more difficult colour coordinating wall paint and such with a lot of dark wood trim, but so worth it.

Watchmaker

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2018, 03:41:01 PM »
Last year we sold a 120 year old wood frame farm house we lived in for 10 years and moved into a (now) 171 year old limestone storefront building.

I love the history of the place. Much more interesting that new built.

pdxbator

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2018, 05:23:43 PM »
My house was built in 1913. I have had a lot of professional remodeling done on it. One thing leads to another and another. The character of old houses has always been interesting to me after growing up in a suburban house built in the 70s.

Portland is expected to get a huge earthquake at some point. Recently I had someone come out and look to see if the house could be attached to the foundation. Unfortunately the foundation is too old and crumbly. The guy was totally honest and said instead of the 60k for a new foundation I should just hope for the best and invest in my 401k

iris lily

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2018, 05:53:42 PM »
You can always make something new, it is much harder to make something old.......

^ I have a family member that I love dearly that was looking to move into my charming historical neighborhood. A really well kept craftsman up the road came up for sale so I sent them a link to the house. They said - "it would be okay if we painted all the woodwork white and got rid of some of those book cases" (which were all original built ins). They also wanted to remove the brick pillars on the front porch (also original) and replace with white columns.

I am now praying they don't buy that house and will not make the mistake of sending them any more links! Some people aren't meant for old houses.

We live in a 3/4 Cape Greek Revival that was originally built (we think) 170 years ago. We think the floors are from the late 1800's though (based on the nails) and the rest of the house was pretty thoroughly updated in the early 2000s so we aren't sure what was lost. We know from our neighbor that has lived here since the 50s that house exterior looks the same as it always has and that the owner in the 90s did major foundation work on it (none of the original foundation remains).

Sometimes I am sad that most of the original parts of the home have been lost to time but I do love the layout, and my oddly shaped bedroom door and am grateful that at least the exterior exists as the original owner intended.

*edited to change years from 150 to 170 because I apparently think it is still the year 2000.

The attached pic is basically what my house looks like. It is so quirky and I've never seen houses that look like it outside of Ohio.
Love your Greek
Revival. There are not many of them in my area of the. Idwest and I always remember them whenI see them.

Our house is feom 1885 and is a modest size
Victorian, a tall skinny house.



StarBright

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2018, 08:13:18 PM »
thanks @iris lily! One of my favorite things about my town is how clear the growth of the town is by looking at old houses :) The front street and all of the corners have the oldest houses. The oldest ones are colonial style saltboxes from the 1820s and 30s. And then the front and second street back from the river are mostly Greek revivals. The corners of farther streets are mostly Greek Revival and Victorian farmhouses and there are some Queen Anne's and  Italianates sprinkled in.  As you go into the blocks and farther out of town craftsman and American small style abounds. There are also small bungalows often sprinkled in next to the older, larger houses where someone clearly sold off land or built houses for family. As you get right to the old town boundary line there are a few mid century ranches.

I am often thankful that our town took such a strong stance on saving historical homes (and trees) starting in the 80s. It makes for a very pleasant place to live now.


pecunia

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2018, 08:37:07 PM »
Old Victorian houses that are restored are beautiful.  They recently built a new housing development where I live.  They copied the Victorians, but the gingerbread woodwork was simplified.  Details were copied and cheapened.  Nothing like stained glass windows, the great woodwork. and brickwork. There's nothing like the original.

ketchup

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2018, 09:02:42 PM »
We just moved into an old farmhouse (circa 1910).  Renting, and super cheap.

The good:
It's on a wonderful property, 200+ acres of farmland with the house almost a mile from the road (cornfields leased out separately).  The more wooded area by the house is about 25 acres, including lots of giant old majestic oak trees.
Right next to bike trails.
1/2 mile as the crow files from the nearest neighbor.  Our dogs can bark and nobody gives a shit.
It's big.
Thick walls.  I can lift weights in the morning without waking up the girlfriend.

The bad:
The roof sucks.
The windows suck.
The basement sucks.
The exterior looks like a crack house.
The interior looked like a crack house before we painted it and refinished the floors.
The plumbing is not awesome.
The stairs creak.
The only option for internet is crappy DSL.  And too wooded to get any TV with an antenna.

But we love it!  As the owner said: "Beautiful property, old crappy house."

Fishindude

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2018, 07:55:17 AM »
We just moved into an old farmhouse (circa 1910).  Renting, and super cheap.

The good:
It's on a wonderful property, 200+ acres of farmland with the house almost a mile from the road (cornfields leased out separately).  The more wooded area by the house is about 25 acres, including lots of giant old majestic oak trees.
Right next to bike trails.
1/2 mile as the crow files from the nearest neighbor.  Our dogs can bark and nobody gives a shit.
It's big.
Thick walls.  I can lift weights in the morning without waking up the girlfriend.

The bad:
The roof sucks.
The windows suck.
The basement sucks.
The exterior looks like a crack house.
The interior looked like a crack house before we painted it and refinished the floors.
The plumbing is not awesome.
The stairs creak.
The only option for internet is crappy DSL.  And too wooded to get any TV with an antenna.

But we love it!  As the owner said: "Beautiful property, old crappy house."


Funny !
You just described our house when we first moved in.   
You move to a place like this for the land and the location, not for the house.   The house can be fixed up to your liking over time.

jpdx

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2018, 10:52:04 PM »
Portland is expected to get a huge earthquake at some point. Recently I had someone come out and look to see if the house could be attached to the foundation. Unfortunately the foundation is too old and crumbly. The guy was totally honest and said instead of the 60k for a new foundation I should just hope for the best and invest in my 401k

Thank you for sharing that advice. Since nearly all old PDX homes have weak foundations, it seems laughable that so many people are bothering with bolting their mudsill. The concrete around those bolts seems likely to fail in "the big one."

Sibley

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2018, 06:57:32 AM »
Portland is expected to get a huge earthquake at some point. Recently I had someone come out and look to see if the house could be attached to the foundation. Unfortunately the foundation is too old and crumbly. The guy was totally honest and said instead of the 60k for a new foundation I should just hope for the best and invest in my 401k

Thank you for sharing that advice. Since nearly all old PDX homes have weak foundations, it seems laughable that so many people are bothering with bolting their mudsill. The concrete around those bolts seems likely to fail in "the big one."

I do wonder what would happen in real life.

House 1: modern, bolted to foundation
House 2: old, not bolted to a foundation

Realistically, in an earthquake, wouldn't it be better for overall structural stability for the house to shift, rather than try to remain rigid? Particularly if it wasn't built for that level of rigidity. So the modern built house wouldn't move off the foundation, but what other damage might occur because of the shaking? Vs the old house which would just slide side to side, which might protect the rest of the house.

jpdx

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2018, 01:13:37 AM »
Good point. Because of inertia, you're right, the unbolted house would want to stay put, and the bolted house would experience more shaking. However, I'd imagine if a house slides off it's foundation (even just a little bit), that's bad, because the upper floors have nothing solid to rest on. In earthquakes, wood framed houses tend to not collapse and kill people like masonry buildings do, because the frame flexes without breaking. But if the house slides off its foundation, it's going to uninhabitable.

monarda

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2018, 09:07:06 PM »
No earthquakes around where we are.

Own and live in one built in 1942.
Two rentals, one 1935,  one 1914. Another rental is much newer.
We've been slowly upgrading all of them.  I'll think of some stories about them. Posting to join the club.

toganet

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2018, 12:11:17 PM »
I grew up in a house built c. 1885.  It had been slightly expanded in the 1950s, but was otherwise original when we moved in in 1986.  At some point in time the woodwork had been painted over, which is a shame.  I remember earning my late-80's allowance removing 1920's era wallpaper that would be treasured today.  My sister and her husband took the house over in 1999 and have raised their family there.  They've put a lot of work into maintaining it, and there's always something.


My first house with my wife was built in 1915, a craftsman style in North Buffalo, near the Pierce-Arrow "executive row."  It had character, but had been a victim of a lot of bad DIY and odd remodeling decisions by previous owners.  Most of what we did was undoing their mistakes.

From there we moved into a mid-century modern built in 1955.  Brick exterior and a huge lot, with (mostly) professional remodeling and reasonable decisions.  Aside from paint colors and dated carpeting we haven't needed to do much.

Last year we bought an colonial/farmhouse-style house built in 1900, and have been restoring it as a rental property (with family tenants).  We've had to replace all the mechanicals as well as the roof, and most of the plaster walls and ceilings had to be torn down and replaced with modern drywall.  Still left to do is rebuild the wrap-around porch and paint the exterior.  We've been able to retain the classic look from the exterior, and preserve the woodwork (which thankfully had never been painted).  Still a ton of work to do, but the first floor is occupied and the upstairs tenant should be in by end of month :)

cloudsail

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2018, 01:02:16 AM »
My house is exactly 100 years old this year. I'm toying with the idea of throwing a birthday party for it :D

I love the character and solid construction of old houses. We had a structural engineer check it out before we bought it and he found that it had settled only a minuscule amount in 100 years, and it was built on a hill.

The only issues are the not 100% ideal floorplan and windows that could be bigger. Also many lines are not straight, it's like they didn't have levels back then or something, lol.

monarda

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2018, 10:48:10 AM »
Love the idea of a birthday party.

When our 1914 rental was coming up on turning 100, we got it a new roof and a couple of dormers upstairs. And converted the attic to livable space. A nice birthday present that made us money. We'd put solar panels on the new roof (when it was 98) to make it feel young and groovy.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 07:46:16 AM by monarda »

MrsWolfeRN

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Re: Old house club
« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2018, 01:46:58 PM »
Joining. My previous houses were built in 1898 and 1946. The 1898 house had suffered some bad remodeling including floorboards that weren't nailed down. 1946 house was mid century modest and pretty much untouched. It was very cheap to heat and maintain but had a galley kitchen and one tiny bathroom.
Current house was built in 1920 ish (original part of house might be older, and it had at least four additions tacked on at different times. The only complaint I have is the chronically wet basement due to high water table. I love having high ceilings and tall windows.

I think that old houses are probably less likely to be affected by natural disasters because if something was going to happen it would have happened by now.