ned_b

Stay or Go: Historic House or Tract House

A Fox
last year

So I know this is a question where the answers are going to be highly influenced by personal preferences, and maybe I’m just looking for reasons not to go, but we are currently faced with this dilemma:


Last summer we purchased a foreclosed upon 1920s, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 3000 sf house. As far as foreclosed houses go, it was in very good condition, but as with every old house there were a few more deferred maintenance and poor repairs than we anticipated at purchase. 6 months and $60k in, I feel like we’ve made some good progress, and I’ve really become attached to the beauty of the house and delved deep into the history. But my significant other, who really liked the house before move-in but would have preferred a new house, has come to really hate it. Specifically because it’s been constantly under construction, and eating money, yet maybe 2/3 of our investment so far has gone into the systems and envelope, and we’ve just started to scratch the surface of the interior.


He’s fed up with it and wants a “maintenance free” new house. But our budget for a new house would only be about $400-450k with a minimum house size (his standards) of 2400sf. For that the only thing we would be able to afford is a tract house in a far out suburb. The type that has 4 different materials and a mashup of features on the front, has no windows on the sides and is a vinyl sided box from the back. We might be able to get most on the interior upgrades for that rate, but there will be no room for customizing anything.


so as I figure (and this list is very biased toward me) these are the pros and cons:


1. Stay in the historic house:


Pros:

* house has beauty and character

* house is made of very high quality materials that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. Marble floors, all stone baths and kitchen, intricate woodwork...even if it’s all been painted, stain glass windows, all brick exterior, clay tile roof, copper gutters, etc.

* House has a history to connect to. I mean the second owners were married in front of the fireplace during Christmas with a string quartet playing in the foyer. You don’t get stories like that in a new house.

* The bones of the house are very solid. By today’s standards it’s overbuilt.

* The house has big formal rooms that can handle the SOs large family gatherings well.

* The house feels like it is sitting in a park on its roomy 2/3 acre lot with landscaping.

* neighborhood has mature trees, beautiful houses, and is walkable

* The people in this neighborhood have a lot of pride for there houses, own them for a long time, and mostly take good care of them. There are some exceptions.

* If we can wait 4 more years and the planets align with the federal government, there will be a train line direct into the Chicago with a station half a mile away and the property values in this neighborhood here will go up.

* At $295,000 there was literally nothing else of this size and quality that we could buy for that price.

* As a restoration architect, this house has given me a chance to get more experience and really into my craft. I have pride in being able to take care of this house.


Cons:


* All of the high end materials are expensive to maintain and replace. Later this year we will spend $10k to pull up just one quadrant of our tile roof, lay down new underpayment, then replace broken tiles and lay the roof back down. We are told our copper gutters are pretty much at the end of their life since they’ve gotten so thin and deformed, etc.

* For budget and time it is likely 5 more years before the house could be considered put together.

* The house doesn’t have a modern floor plan. It’s pretty open for the time period, but the family room and kitchen are on opposite ends of the house, the laundry is in the basement, etc.

* Solid brick walls with no insulation, single pain windows (not drafty because someone painted them all shut), under insulated attic and old boiler mean the house is expensive to heat.

* All the gardens take more effort to maintain.

* The neighborhood is one of the safest in the city, but any neighborhood in the adjacent suburbs would be safer. No real violent crime, but in a one square mile area there is maybe one burglary per month, the occasional car theft, and cars that are left unlocked are guaranteed to be rifles through.

* We don’t have any children, but if we did they would need to be private schooled at least after elementary, because the upper public schools are really rough.

* Selling this house especially sooner than later will likely be at a loss. Right now we might be lucky to get $350k and it’s value tops out around $400k in perfect condition.


2. Sell and purchase the best tract house we can afford:


Pros


* House would need very little work for some time after building.

* There would be nothing to do on move in but decorate (SO: “the fun stuff”...also the easy stuff)

* House would meet modern energy codes

* No landscaping and small lot would be easy to maintain

* Floor plan would conform to modern casual living, including family room, open kitchen, attached garage, and master closet that fits both of our clothes.

* Get a lot of space and good interior finishes relative to budget.

* Everyone’s house would be well maintained because of the HOA in enforcement.

* The town is considered one of the safest in Indiana with really good schools.


Cons


* “and they’re all made of tickytacky and they all look just the same” comes to mind

* I don’t honestly think I would ever be proud of my house. It would just be house. Certainly nothing I would ever design myself. I also don’t think I could show it to coworkers without effecting my professional credibility.

* The certain tract builder that has been considered is so popular because you can get the most for your dollar. But the trade off is nothing can be customized, not walls, door locations, or even outlet locations. There are a handful of plans, four exteriors, and three grade levels of finishes with options in each.

* The floor plans available may only sort of match our lifestyle.

* The neighborhood was once farmland. There aren’t any trees. There are sidewalks but they won’t get you out of the development. There’s nothing interesting to look at because everyone has the same house.

* One of the safest towns in the state may also be one of the most boring, homogeneous, and worst planned. Traffic is already terrible and the population continues to grow. Getting to everything takes a 15 minute or longer drive.

* The houses in this development have not maintained their value mostly because people would still rather have a new house for the price than one that is 5-10 years old. What happens after the town is fully built out is yet to be seen.


My ideal home would either be a small historic house with character on an urban lot with a small garden or a similarly smaller new house that I designed myself in an established neighborhood. His ideal house is larger, with a large yard and a pool. He appreciates historic homes but ultimately wants one that doesn’t require much work and lives like a modern home. The interior is more important for him than what it looks like or where it is. So our current house was supposed to be a compromise between our preferences and budget.


Sorry for the long post. Any thoughts or things I haven’t thought of? Im curious to see what everyone has to say.

Stay in the 1920s house in an historic neighborhood in a post-industrial city
Build the best tract house we can afford in a farm field in the exurbs

Comments (80)

  • Kristin S
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I agree with others that you need to break out of thinking there are only two choices. Assuming that the current either/or represents each of you getting your ideal (and the other's nightmare), are there third and fourth and fifth options which isn't either of your ideal but also isn't something the other would hate? In most cities, between the close-in historic houses and the far out current tract construction there are lots of "middle aged" neighborhoods, which could represent a good compromise and an interesting challenge for you, professionally. In my city you'd find houses from the 50's-70's in these neighborhoods - not really historic, but also not tract homes. They're often on big-ish lots and have good schools. They don't have the cache of the historic homes (but then, also not the price) and they're often higher quality than the current tract builders. And I've seen them redone into amazing homes.

    One other thing: don't worry about what colleagues and such think of you. Anyone reasonable understands that choosing a house is a matter of balancing a lot of different needs and desires with a lot of compromises. I wouldn't think much of someone who would judge you for picking a house that's best for your family, even if it's not your professional ideal.

  • mandy_redworth
    last year

    Wow Kristin S - amazing answer. you really nailed it!

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  • Lyndee Lee
    last year
    We recently sold our classic older house with the high maintenance garden, tile roof, copper gutters, and built like a fortress. After 26 years and 2 children grown, it was time for someone else to manage that house. Yes, it is wonderful when everything is going well but it has to be a labor of love or it will become a major resentment. We actually probably spent much less money maintaining the older home because it was built so well originally. We got to live in a beautiful house, built with expensive materials we would never be able to afford if bought new.

    Our major expenses were having the flat roof areas replaced twice, having the trees trimmed twice and painting the exterior trim once. Inside we replaced some cast iron pipe and had the boiler gas valve updated. Because it was an older house, we did not have to develop landscaping, add outdoor space, put in window coverings, closet shelving, crown molding, cabinet organizers or other "small" upgrades that end up costing major dollars. Yes, it might have been more expensive to heat, but we spent less money total on heating than many homeowners with newer houses as we did not need to buy a new furnace or do multiple repairs.

    I think an older house is a good choice if you like to spend time at home, whether it be relaxing, gardening, creative projects or entertaining but not necessarily appropriate if your hobbies primarily take you away from home. Older houses may not require much overall work once it finished but they do need regular attention. You will likely end up doing more of the tasks yourselves because it is not easy to find people to work on older houses but you have lots of choices for people to mow your new house yard with the single tree in the front yard and plastic edging around the foundation plantings. For me, an ideal summer day might be spent tending my garden and reading a book but some people would think that horribly boring.

    Copper gutters wear through where the rain runs down the valleys and eventually you end up with holes the exact same distance apart, all the way down the length. You may need to figure out some way to line them, perhaps with an epoxy product.
  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    last year

    You and your S.O. have widely different views regarding your ideal home. I don't know how to remedy that, but I know you're not alone. Perhaps there's a market demand for a new counseling specialty: architectural therapist.

    As a restoration architect, this home restoration project is part of your resume. Remodeling it makes you more aware of the challenges of adapting an older structure to suit a different lifestyle and the associated costs. Use this experience to develop a process you can use with your clients that helps them identify whether purchasing and remodeling an older home is right for them, how to identify and prioritize necessary repairs and replacements, what changes to make and how to make them, etc.

    Best wishes.

  • roccouple
    last year

    If your partner really hates it I think you need to move. I don’t know if he is just burned out or really hates it but both of you need to be happy where you live.


    It it sounds like youd be miserable where he wants to be. So that’s a non starter also.


    I am thinking a brand new house isn’t the answer. They are always expensive. Maybe an existing house less than 20 years old, or an old home that’s ready been extensively remodeled. looking at homes for sale may help. Looking at the market could also make him appreciate what you have more, if he has unrealistic ideas.

  • artemis_ma
    last year

    I'd keep looking.

    Even at pre-existing ones.



  • tuckerdc
    last year

    This is not so much a 'housing' issue as a relstionship issue. If your SO is 'fed up' and HATES the money pit, what good does a pro/con list do? What benefit will it be to your relationship if you prevail and stay....??


    In a 50 year marriage, what I found was important was respecting when the other person had SERIOUS issues or reservations to the contrary.

  • Hot Rod
    last year

    Is there any where to see the results of the vote?

  • weedyacres
    last year

    We've lived through renovation fatigue. One thing that helped make it more bearable for us was a rule that only one room at a time could be under construction, and it had to be finished before we started tearing into the next one. That contains the mess and reduces the impingement on one's lifestyle that one feels when multiple rooms are torn apart.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    last year

    I've lived in a variety of long-term remodeling projects.


    One thing which contributes to the "fatigue" is the typical need for immediate infrastructure improvements (e.g., roof, insulation, HVAC, new windows, etc.) which may be necessary and expensive, but which don't contribute much to how the home looks or lives on the interior.


    Perhaps a project schedule which shows the anticipated completion dates for interior upgrades (e.g., remodeled kitchen, remodeled master bath, etc.) would enable your S.O. to know that the project will have a conclusion.

  • Cheryl Smith
    last year

    Even just 5 years ago I would have killed for an old home. Nothing that I could afford would have the characte and charm you can't get in a new home. Fast forward and at 65 we bought a newer home 2006 because it's all on one level, no going to the basement for laundry or stairs to go to bed. It all depends where you are in life. My husband also was over the continuous fixing of an old house. So we bought for our lives in the future not what we loved.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    last year

    I always read about the "continuous fixing" of an old house. Just how "old"? Mine is going to be 71 this year - surely that is "old". And I'm not continuously "fixing" it. Yes, there is an occasional plumbing problem, but new houses have those, too. Painting? Mine is painted brick, last painted 16 years ago and the paint on the brick is still terrific. I always buy the paint my painter uses so the trim was painted with very good paint. It was also painted at that time. There are a couple of areas that will need to be touched up this spring - all due to a woodpecker who went insane. All my windows are no aluminum clad so no painting there.

    A good inside paint job on walls, and particularly on woodwork, should last 20 years if a high quality oil-based paint is used. Mine still looks great and some was painted 35 years ago. My wallpaper is also still in excellent condition.

    HVAC? I have it service twice yearly and change the filters regularly. I would do the same in a new house. I've replace the roof twice on this house (actually 3 times due to hail damage 11 months after the 2nd re-roofing) in 35 years. I don't think it will have to be done again.

    Yes, I DO have the trees trimmed every 3 years or so, but that's because I have large, established trees. To me, that's a very GOOD thing!

    ALL houses require maintenance! My old one requires no more or less than a new one. In fact, probably less as it was a very well build house when it was built in 1948.

  • A Fox
    Original Author
    last year

    Oh my gosh, so many responses so far. Thank you everyone.


    Lyndee Lee, thank you for the perspective. I can only hope that the maintenance bills will decrease once we get through taking care of the things that the last owner clearly was not. It’s pretty clear as an interior designer that he was far more concerned with House the house looked that how it functioned or maintained. And when he started running out of money, he even more focused on cosmetic bandaids to try to sell the house rather than fixing the core problems. So the house has marble bathrooms but a patchwork of poorly executed roof repairs, new expensive garage doors, but the brick parapet and steel lintels over them were crumbling.


    Charles Ross Homes, thank you for that thought on schedule. I think it would definitely help our pacing and budget too, both of which have been struggles. Aside from initial heating problems and the roof leaks, the house has always been liveable at least. So I have been of the opinion that aside from things that need fixing for the health of the house that we space out our projects so there are breaks where there aren't any contractors there, the house is clean, and we aren't constantly writing out checks. We've been a little at odds on that one too. The typical one room at a time advice has also been challenging, because the things that need to be done first are all over the place.


    Kristin S., There are in betweens. For simplicity of discussion I limited it to the two ideals, but there were lots of other things we considered too originally. We looked at a lot of them during our long ouse hunt. But the middle aged communities are also some of the most desirable for their schools and thus came with some of the highest price tags. The houses in our price range were dated and needed maintenance work and were being snapped up almost faster than we could get out to look at them. So we would have ended up paying more and still having major renovation jobs, including more intrusive bath and kitchen remodels. Finding a house was sort of a ven diagram process of meeting many needs, including being close to his family, being reasonably close to our jobs (a challenge when our employers are 40 miles away from each other), getting a sort of walkable community with charter for me, having a reasonable level of safety, meeting a budget, and a list of requirements for the house and lot. We found that there was literally no middle to that diagram.


    As far as the gutters go. The quote just came in at $16k to replace them around the entire house. The roofer we have is pretty well respected in the region and has worked on several very large restoration projects. So if he advocates for gutter replacement, that’s probably what is best long term for the house. We have unusually long gutter runs with low slopes so I wouldn’t be surprised if more water sits in them than usual. He certainly isn’t going to benefit that much from scrap. While we’re under contract for the house’s purchase someone pulled all of the downspouts off the house. Based on what I read at the time they maybe made $100-150 off of it. Thankfully our contract and the bank’s insurance got us new ones.


    But that much isn’t in the budget this year, so we are probably going to look into what it would take to repair the worst spots for now. Now that they have been cleaned out, there are only a couple spots where water pours out of them, and with more than three foot deep eaves, I don’t think a little drip leaking elsewhere is going to hurt much.


    Overall, the way I look at it is that we have renovation projects scheduled through September or October (the roofer isn't available until August) and we can't very well sell a house at top value with temporary roof repairs and a giant blue tarp. By that point the foyer and upstairs hall should be done except stair carpet, the breakfast room and kitchen spruce up should be done minus appliances, and the master will have a fresh coat of paint. So we can at least give this another 6 months and see how those go and how we each feel about the house before making a firm decision. I've been riding on the hope that once things are more put together he might feel better about the house, since it's not really the concept of the house that he hates as much of it's state of repair and the pains of the renovation process.


    For those who have asked, the complication with selling is that I think we will need to get 100% back on our remodeling investments in order to walk away with the at least the same downpayment to put into another home once commission and fees are subtracted. I fear that will be a challenge with such a quick turn around, and when pricing houses like ours is a bit of a gamble. Our neighborhood's homes get a lot of interest when they come for sale, but so few of them come for sale each year it's hard to get a sense of what people will pay. The most expensive house to sell since the recession was for $361k over 2 years ago. The next highest sale price is $310k from a year ago. We got an offer from a losing bidder for $320k soon after purchase who knew the house was a little rough, but we don't know how high in the 300s we could push it.

  • Lyndee Lee
    last year
    If you are interested in selling, let people know that you would consider offers. You never know who is in the market for just the right house. I have only bought and sold a few houses through the MLS, the others were private deals or auctions.

    For us, getting a buyer who appreciated the quality and history was worth a solid deal, even if it wasn't the highest potential dollar. We had fixed several things but there were many others we just didn't tackle which an MLS buyer might have wanted fixed. In an older custom house, fixing things for closing can eat up money in a hurry. We ended up with the same sales price the agent thought we might get and avoided paying the commission.
  • mandy_redworth
    last year

    I like Lyndee’s thoughts. I bought my condo when I heard it was “maybe” going up for sale. In my area (Seattle), bidding wars are common. I offered the seller market value and told him we can do the transaction with an attorney instead of an agent. It cost us $750 each and closed in less than a month. He profited huge (over $30k) from not having to pay the agent commision and I got my home for a very good price in a ridiculous market. That may be a way to recoup some $$$ if you do decide to sell.

  • homechef59
    last year

    Once that roof is repaired, you may be surprised at the change in both attitudes. There is nothing more demoralizing than lying in bed listening to the roof leak. Been there, done that. Hopefully, your roofer will get to you sooner rather than later.

  • athomeeileen
    last year

    Just fix the roof. Then sell it. It sounds like going any further with renovation is throwing good money after bad. Don't bank on the planets aligning and the federal government. Cut your losses, save your relationship, rent until you find a better option for both of you.

  • Isaac
    last year

    1) your relationship is more important than a house. Find a solution that preserves the relationship.

    2) Even if you do have kids, 2400 sq ft is huge IMO (we have 1600 for four, and both I and my spouse grew up in 1600 sq ft for four; all three houses were plenty big enough). Why fixate on such a large house? Layout matters too - small, well laid out houses can be more useful than big sprawling ones (not to mention cheaper to buy, heat, and maintain)

    3) Location, location, location. A compromise house that gets you near what you want to be near (schools, work, amenities, family, etc.) beats a perfect house in the wrong location.


    TLDR: neither house sounds right, so examining your assumptions might hear fruit.

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    last year

    A pool is a lot of maintenance -- if your SO wants one, IMO it negates the complaint about the gardens needing maintenance (and a well tended or designed landscape needs less than people think).

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    last year

    Pools and spas require a humongeous amount of regular maintenance. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never had a pool or spa.

  • partim
    last year

    I can see how the SO may feel that the maintenance of a pool is worth it to have a pool, but that he sees little benefit to him from yard maintenance. Although I enjoy gardening myself, I can see how others would not. To each their own.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
    last year

    And who wants a pool with no landscaping????

  • graywings123
    last year

    Is it possible to go on a vacation and get your husband away from the house for a while so that he has some perspective? Maybe it's just renovation fatigue. And consider the possibility that your husband's desire to bail out of the house represents some other issue, such as depression. I may be way off base here, but just throwing this out.

  • A Fox
    Original Author
    last year

    To clarify the whole part about landscaping and having a pool:


    The yard/garden maintenance is more of my complaint, as someone who has years of living in multi-unit urban buildings with no yard, and since aside from mowing it has mainly fallen on me. The most maintenance intensive yard that we've ever had was our last house which had a 2000 sf footprint, and sat on a 5500 sf city lot. But the previous homeowners had been hobby gardeners and had filled up the entire lot with essentially one of everything. We cut out probably 25% of it and still had a yard with a dozen trees--some fruit bearing--and full beds of various shrubs, ornamentals, bulb annuals. and multiple varieties of vines, ivy, and ground covers all intermixed in a way that defied any logic or planning. Most things were oversized for their locations and the vines wanted to climb all over everything, so a few hours every weekend were spent weeding and trimming to keep it in check.


    The current yard is a little better, but again was created by a self employed hobby gardener who planted way too much. This summer for one, all of the vines are going. It is just too much effort keeping them from climbing up the house, the trees, the fence, and escaping their beds. And there's a fair amount of trimming and culling to do. The advantage of a new house would be starting from scratch and doing things right, but it's true that the level of effort starting new would be likely be greater and it would be nearly a decade before everything really fills in. But I listed it in the pros and cons anyway. The point being that we could choose our level of maintenance rather than inherit it.


    As far as maintaining a pool, I've never owned one or desired to own one, but he has, and so have his parents. I'm not completely up on the maintenance that they require, but I imagine in addition to cleaning and maintaining chemical balances, that there are additional considerations as they age. As long as his parents have one, that's less pressure for us to have one as well. Even in a new house that's probably a project that's at least 5 years out.

  • A Fox
    Original Author
    11 months ago

    So...after massive roof repairs, plaster repairs, paint, new wallpaper, carpet...it’s four months after the roof was completed, it’s down pouring outside and there is water dripping from the ceiling in the exact same place it did before we spent tens of thousands repairing the roof running down the new and now discontinued wallpaper and splashing on the stair runner that wasn’t even completed 48 hours ago. I still love this house, but does anyone ever get to the point where they fell ready to throw in the towel.


    Now I’m trying to get ahold of the roofing company and hopefully we can find the problem.

  • CJ Haus
    11 months ago

    We found ourselves in a similar situation with a roof repair a few years ago. In our case, the workmen sent to do the first repair job failed to remove the backing paper from the Ice & Water underlayment. Luckily, after it leaked again I was able to take photos while the shingles were removed to expose the problem. I sent them to the owner of the first roofing company, who refunded the considerable amount we'd paid. It's a long shot that your current leak is due to the same negligence, but on the off chance it might be I thought it was worth mentioning.


    I threw in the towel on house #1 when it was obvious we'd bought a real money pit, we had to sell house #2 after seven years due to massive medical bills not covered by insurance (both were old houses that we'd put many hours of hard labor into renovating), and dh threw in the towel on house #6 which wasn't vintage but which turned out to be poorly built about 35 years ago in an area where "drive by" inspections were common, unbeknownst to us. Five of our first 12 houses had roof leaks that defied diagnosis and/or repair initially. We're on #13 now and still have #12.


    I sometimes wish we could have held onto certain houses until we were able to complete our wish list of improvements, but I don't have any serious regrets. Plus, I can't imagine any way to explain to my husband that his fatigue, frustration, and/or desire to do something with our time and money other than reno chores was less important to me than a house.


    Good luck with your roof repair. Hope you and your partner can find a mutually agreeable solution to the house question, too.



  • Lyndee Lee
    11 months ago

    I am sorry to hear of the issues you are still experiencing with your house. How frustrating it is to spend all that money on repairs that have not fixed the problems. Have you checked with your home insurance to see if your policy covers any of the damage?

    Clay tile roofs are very expensive because so few people are qualified to work on them. It is hard to find anyone to work on them, let alone two or three to get some additional opinions on possible approaches and various alternatives.

    We had a tree branch fall on ours which broke some tiles. Our insurance company requested us to get three estimates but we couldn't even find three companies to talk with us. We knew of one firm as we had previously purchased some vintage replacement tiles from them. Another tile roofing person promised to come look and give me an estimate but he was a no show for the appointment and never answered our calls afterwards. The insurance company wanted another estimate so I requested them to provide contact info for any qualified firms. At that point, they decided that my single quote was sufficient and authorized them to do the work.

    It has now been almost a year since we sold our house and honestly we have not missed the house. Occasionally, we comment how much we liked the whole house fan or some other feature but mostly we are happy to know there is a wonderful family enjoying the house. The one thing I miss is my garden because I had wonderful soil and virtually all plants grew like crazy. My husband had grown so sensitive to the sycamore tree that he could no longer spend time in the back yard so he doesnt miss that aspect at all.

    We purchased a foreclosure house of similar age and completely gutted the basement and kitchen. So we now have a house with vintage details and modern mechanicals with all new wiring and plumbing. There wasn't anything really obviously wrong with this house when we started but found plenty of issues when we got deeper into the project. We were fortunate to have the resources to do the project over a lengthy time period and we know that avoiding rushed decisions is a big part of our overall satisfaction with the house.

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24
    11 months ago

    I used to have a roof leak that the first roofer didn’t fix even with a new roof. I finally jury-rigged a fix myself. I used to wish I could just put a big umbrella over the house to keep it dry, then realized I was just describing the function of a roof! I got a new roofer who did the roof edges correctly. I hope you can get yours fixed soon.

  • J Williams
    11 months ago

    Any home is work. My parents eschewed nicer homes in better areas with larger yards and better layouts all because they were scared of renovations (no diy skills to speak of), the 1970s home they purchased has an annoying layout, the kitchen was garbage, the drawers were actual plastic bins and the cupboards were chipboard with Formica counters, the family room had to be gutted (no insulation, carpet on concrete, crappy lighting, wood paneling) and the fireplace does not draw properly so they need a space heater to counteract the heat loss, the bathrooms were barely functional and the shower wall was so rotten that insects were living in the closet on the other side, the windows were aluminum and even the wiring in some areas were aluminum, it had filthy wallpaper that had to be stripped and rainbow shag carpets clotted with filth and even the roof pours water over the front door and becomes an ice death trap in winter. The cold room in the basement is so damp it can’t be used. There is also no door to the backyard, it had a chain link fence around the yard and all topsoil had been stripped away. At that time, that home was only about 10 or so years old. You can buy a house for it’s surface appearance, or it’s apparent newness, but it’s the structural and functional things that really matter. It does kind of suck to pour money into things like foundation, sewage and drains, windows, insulation, and seem to be still so very far behind when it comes to decor, btdt, you’ve got to be committed to the area and what the house can potentially offer you, or why stay. A neighbourhood full of kids is also no guarantee your potential kids will even like or relate to them, also btdt, and the parents might be a holes, but school areas can definitely make or break home sales.

  • Lars
    11 months ago

    Hot Rod

    Is there any where to see the results of the vote?

    Not that I've ever found.

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    10 months ago

    Historical homes are beautiful, but they are money pits. It’s like choosing a bike between a classic Vespa and a Piaggio MP3. I’d take the MP3. :-)

  • Gina S
    10 months ago

    I love visiting friends historic homes. LOVE. But, I would never want one myself. Most of them tell stories of how much more it cost to update and how expensive their utilities are and it seems no one ever says they're done remodeling their historic homes, i.e., it never ends.


    This is a personal decision -- but, I know for me it would be the tract home. Good luck with your decision.

  • RES, architect
    10 months ago

    Stay; you'll add a financial loss to your troubles if you leave now.

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    A Fox, Just wondering what your decision was. I am back here with a different view now. I fell in love with an historical property. So I hope you are still living in your beautiful historical home. What did your journey lead you to? Are you still there?

  • artemis_ma
    7 months ago

    Love to know your decision as well. My personal thoughts are to stay, due to the investments already made, and also because as soon as I see the letters HOA I want to scream.

    I'm sure at this point you've made a decision; do let us know?


  • A S
    7 months ago

    I've never lived in a historic house but I do have a new house, albeit not a tract house, and I can tell you it is a myth that there aren't issues in a new home. In a new home we tend to assume it will be perfection but there are deficiencies to deal with and people coming in and out to get that work done. There is also regular house maintenance and gardening and yard work just like any other home. No home is perfect. It is all a matter of what you want to get out of it.

  • J Williams
    7 months ago

    I think that was the gist of my long diatribe above.

  • A Fox
    Original Author
    7 months ago

    We are still in our house.


    The last leak was fixed (fingers crossed anyway) by expanding the area of the previous repair. Although now we have another leak in our bedroom. This one is a slow one that's causing the paper to be damp and bubble and a ring is showing on the ceiling. I think it's an issue with the chimney cricket, and it's on a side of the roof that is all new work, so it should be completely on the roofer to make right. Now it's just been a matter of getting them out on a day that works for everyone and there isn't snow on the roof.


    We still occasionally go back and forth on this. As you've said we've put a lot of effort and money already into the current house, and although I still think we would make it out well ahead, we wouldn't get back all of that investment. We also now have a house full of furniture that was selected and made for this specific house, and wouldn't necessarily work in another house. We also have a affordable mortgage compared to what a similar sized or even new house would cost. Even with it's flaws I still think that we are lucky to have what we have for what we put into it.


    I do think we are probably experiencing more renovation pains than typical because the prior owner was not great on maintenance or quality renovation work. I do feel like we should eventually catch up. The previous family before him owned the house for 75 years. I cannot imagine that they would have stayed so long if it were just a bad house. Nor do I believe that, but it's taken some time for my partner to come around.

  • cpartist
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    Well A Fox, we moved into our new fully custom house the end of April 2018. Our exterior balcony needs to be completely redone. It seems our builder didn't care to do the deck correctly. They waterproofed the deck but instead of using waterproofing that would take tile on top, they used material that isn't supposed to have anything on top of it. They then put tile on top of the waterproofing and then put the railing posts through the waterproofing and tile instead of putting the posts in first and then doing the waterproofing and tile. And they didn't even scissor the posts to the rafters. Additionally the fire blocking between house and exterior under the balcony is missing.

    And that's just one (and the latest) of 7 pages of issues we've been having. And this house is on the higher end of the market too.

  • A S
    7 months ago

    CP right there with you! Today for the umpteenth time builder on site to review the latest deficiencies one of which continues to be issues with the fireplace mantel and surround. So I’m sure it will get repaired for the sixth time soon enough. In the spring we get to have a bunch of concrete work redone. That sounds fun in a house that was new in Oct 2018
    E

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    A Fox, thanks for the update. Hopefully your roof will get fixed soon. Not a roof pro, we had an experience with a roof leak two years ago due to the seal along the edge of a roof cracked after 16 -17 years. DH put on new roofing cement along the edge and fixed the problem before a new roof replacement. Yours can be the same easy fix . It won’t hurt to check on the seal along the edge of your roof near the leaking spot, the seal might be cracked too.

    We are going to view a historical property for the 2nd time tomorrow morning, and will make an offer after. Can’t wait to find out what our journey will lead us to. Life is about destiny........ :-)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    7 months ago

    My historic house journey has often made me want to throw my arms in the air and scream.

    (I am not in the picture above)

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    7 months ago

    Lol, love the pic!


  • daisychain01
    7 months ago

    Careful. The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave. My DH and I are diehard old house fans. We bought our 110 year old home when my first DD was born 20 years ago and it is just as much as part of the family as the pets. DH and I are in our 50s now and occasionally mention downsizing to the kids. You'd think we were talking about burning it to the ground. Even I have the occasional nightmare that we've sold and I come back to see it and the new owners are not loving it as we see fit. Night terrors, really.

    As others have said, new houses are less than perfect. Our neighbour was an architect, sold his 100 year old house to build his dream house. He oversaw every step, but he and his wife say they have just as many issues with the new house as they did with the old.

    Good luck, but don't let it ruin your marriage. I find whispering my side of the argument into his ear while he sleeps, helps to keep DH on the right track. :-)

  • summersrhythm_z6a
    7 months ago

    Daisy, I know what you are talking about. Last winter we tried to purchase a historical home near our weekend property, we offered the full asking price, but the old lady just refused to sign the contract at the end, she refused to move, she has been there for 43 years. And later on I heard she signed contract with someone else, but somehow canceled it. She is still living there today and the house is in need to be repaired. I totally understand her. I wish her in a good health and live there for a long time.

    On our way to the property now, my heart is singing. :-)

  • functionthenlook
    7 months ago

    I never owned a old home, the oldest was built in 1955, but if it was kept up over the years i think it would be cool to own an old home. Now personally I wouldn't want to live in a historic home. That would be like living in a HOA with a bunch of stranger board members telling you what and what not you can do with the outside of your home.

  • jemimabean
    7 months ago

    A Fox, my heart goes out to you. We bought a 100 year old house last year and omg, I was not mentally prepared. There are so many things that I love about this stupid old house that would be impossible to replicate if/when we ever build (the biggest being the fact that the view out the front door/windows is of an adorable little park and that there’s another a huge new park that’s won many national awards less than a five minute walk away). It’s definitely not our forever house as the master bedroom is upstairs and the laundry is in the basement, but we’re determined to love it for however long we’re here.

    Last summer was such a slog to get it just to the point that we could move in that I didn’t get a chance to putter around the yard or do anything fun at all. I’m hoping that this spring and summer we have more opportunity to connect with the house a bit better, and I will be hoping the same is true for you and your husband.

    Hold tight!

  • ILoveMod
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    If your current house really is simply too much work and too much of a money pit, then I do think it's time to cut your losses. But it's only worth it if you can hold out for the right compromise, rather than just giving up and buying something "way out" in the suburbs. If you wind up with an easier house but with bad walkability or a longer commute, I can practically guarantee you will regret it.

    Do you have the ability to put a pause in the renos so you can take your time and not rush into another move?

    If I were in your situation, I'd be looking for something relatively turnkey in your favorite neighorhoods, but maybe the compromise will be size or beauty of the house. Think about how much space you really need. could you be ok with a townhouse? that will majorly open up your options for location. and if it's turnkey / good quality but maybe lacks character? you can beautify that if you have enough imagination.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    last month

    Would love an update on this thread. :-)

  • mama goose_gw zn6OH
    last month

    Updated pic for Mark B.: