thinking of buying an old house, PLEASE advise!
Long story short: I've come into some money (not a lot, $200000 ish) and I want to buy and restore an old house, not to sell but to live in for good, in Nova Scotia. Canada. I am 32, female and have absolutely NO experience in this area, no practical knowledge. I am, however, a cautious, detail oriented perfectionist with an innate need to get things done RIGHT and I have always, always, wanted to live in a beautiful old house. I am also definitely the 'put down roots' type - this is very related. I work from home and earn a decent middle class income (more than $50,000, less than $100,000). I understand a lot of this project will be about finding good people and utilizing them properly.
PLEASE talk to me and advise me, tell me I'm an idiot, hit me with cluesticks, encourage me etc., whatever you feel is appropriate.
- houses are cheap in NS (examples of houses I like: http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11958858&PidKey=-816861284 , http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=12135828&PidKey=526442657
- it is more than possible for me to get an unrestored old house of the type I want (basics: large, high ceilings, original features, esp. hardwood floors) for less than $150,000, even less than $100,000)
- building materials and builders are also comparably cheap (I do not have numbers here, yet, am working on it, just going on advice from various people who would know)
- I want this done right. For the right house, assuming I do not come into half a million (or however much is needed) right away, this is something I am fully prepared to work on for a number of years. If a house is not currently liveable, my plan would be to a)make it liveable (for me this means working kitchen, bathroom and internet connection) and b)get it up to a point where it is no longer in a state of decline. Put it in stasis, as it were, so it doesn't deteriorate further while waiting for certain jobs to get done. Does anyone have any specific comments on this? Does anyone have comments on the order in which to do things in/on an old house? Assume a solid foundation. Is it possible to go room by room?
- I would rather restore a basically untouched house, but am aware that a reno'ed old house can also be had cheaply - one that may not have been faithfully restored and is not perfect in my eyes, but one that would be far less likely to become a money sucking machine (probably?). Is there any reason to lean one way or the other here, given that I have the will/patience and, over time, the money, to do extensive restoration? Also that an aesthetically badly reno'ed house could, I assume, be superficially redone to be more to my taste?
- any advice other than hiring a structural engineer to check out the foundation when looking into specific houses? Is it worth getting tradesmen in to look at each system? I have heard some not great stories about useless home inspectors. I don't care if the lino is cracked, I do care if the place is filled with unseen mold.
- any thoughts on brick structures? pros and cons of 100yr-ish brick buildings?
- how low would you go in terms of a derelict or near derelict building? I ask because, for example, of places like this: http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11735224&PidKey=-940356416 (please click on 'More' below the main photo to see more photos, including one of this property in its original state as a grand hotel) - this place has mold, water damage, no services (theyre at the property line), but, it's also cheaper than a good car and would be absolutely stunning restored. Any thoughts on the costs of putting a place like this into the stasis I mentioned above, hooking up basic services, living in and restoring? There are MANY of these beautiful, old, large properties in this state for very very cheap, often in the $20,000 - $30,000 range. I'm just trying to get some idea of whether or not any non insane person would even consider ever trying to restore these houses or if they're only good for knocking down (note that hotel has a brand new roof, put in place, I assume, to help slow down the water damage that was taking place).
OK I've rambled on and on and keep going but I'll post this. Please give me your honest thoughts.