Maybe a little more acceptance here? Im new and my story is...

ladyvixen84August 18, 2011

I had posted in the repair forum, and I seem to be getting good and worthy opinions, but not the understanding I had expected. So, maybe this forum, since it is for old houses ;) can offer new advice, opinions, and maybe a little bit more acceptance lol.

My husband and I are first time home buyers. We are young, and being young, not always smart about certain decisions, and being a woman, I tend to lead with emotions and heart over brains ;)

We have looked a about 60 or 70 homes, and found that we adored the old farm houses compared to your newer updated construction. I have nothing against the newer homes, but there is something about the old farm houses that I cant seem to get over. Anyways, with that said, My husband and I have found a house that we absolutely LOVE and ADORE, so much so, that we can't see ourselves in any other house...we have looked at about 6 since we seen the house we fell in love with, and it just wasn't the same feeling. It is an older home, farm house to be exact. Built in 1920, but the inside is somewhere along the lines of 1960-70ish. I know with older homes, a lot of issues can suddenly sneak up on you when you least expect it, and those issues can be costly...I'm fine with that and so is my DIY capable husband.

The home does need work to say the least, but we are not looking for a house with 30k kitchens or looking to spend 30k in kitchen renovations...I'm a very simple woman and would like to remain that way as far as decor. I can easily paint a distressed look onto the very old cabinets instead of paying 15k for new ones ;) Aside from that the sellers have installed new vinyl siding, hot water heater, furnace, new wiring throughout, carpet/tile, insulation and a hideous paint job lol. We have seen all the receipts for the upgrades. All the upgrades have at least a 5yr warranty which will transfer to us if we purchase the home. It does not currently have AC, but it is AC compatible and I have a unit that can be installed, but won't do it until next year as summer is almost over.

Now, here comes the part where the home repair forum has told me to run and run away and never look back. The foundation. I have an independent structual engineer coming to inspect the foundation on Monday, however the sellers have records of having the foundation inspected already, the paper said the foundation is in fair condition. BUT....I have flooring issues. The left side of the house is leaning. It's where if you drop a ball in the center of the kitchen the ball will immediately roll to the left, same with the living room but not quite as bad. I understand 150% that the foundation can have an issue that will likely be a costly repair, but knowing this even though slightly scared because i'm not knowledgeable in this area, I still want the home. And so does my husband.

The roof also needs shingles, but the seller will reimburse us for all costs...He is an older gentleman and does not want the hassle to deal with.

With all of that said, what would your opinions be? Would they be the same as the home repair and run as fast as we can lol, or is it worth a shot? I feel it is, but I also want to make sure I know exactly what i'm getting into with owning an older home. I know what THIS particular home needs or possibly needs(will know more with inspection) and I understand things here and there can pop up that can be costly to repair if we cannot do it ourselves.

Am I scared? Sure! But I am a first time home buyer(Hubby has bought one home prior to this in his last marriage), he isn't as worried as I am ;) We have the time, and the money to make improvements and keep up with maintenance. On a plus side as well, my mortgage payments will be far less than what i'm paying now to live in a 2bd 500sq ft give or take duplex, with a lot of kids lol. I'm tired of throwing money away on rent, and I want my children to have a real home they can grow up in.

This purchase would not be for temporary living. I want to be in it for at least 15yrs or more. And I am in no way at this given moment looking for a profitable return. I would spend the 30k in kitchen upgrades and reno if I were, but in 20yrs time, granite may be as old school as laminate now, I'd hate to spend 30k now to upgrade just to turn around 20yrs later and spend another 30k to make it more desirable for resale. But by that time frame, the house should be paid for and I can just give it to one of my children ;)

I also wanted to add a few more things before I forget. It has new windows ;) It's a perfect location for us, with just a short commute to work (10min) for both. It's a quiet neighborhood, less than 300 residents, 1 school k-12 a gas station, and a playground....with the grain co-op about 3 miles away. And the only appliances that are included is a dishwasher lol. Which isn't a big issue for us.

Oh, The house is listed at $59,900 from an original price of $69,000. with the consideration of being reimbursed the roofing costs, by the seller paying closing costs. So if I pay $4200 for a new roof, he will pay $4200 worth of closing costs as reimbursement.

And to all the home repair forum members, I totally respect and appreciate all your advice and opinions, but I want to seek out the advice and opinions from those who live, admire, love older homes, as they seem to know a bit more of what its like to live in an old house, compared to just repairing them, remodeling and reselling.

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Ladyvixen, I can't tell you to "Do it" or "run". But your story is familiar. :-)

We decided to buy our first home. Got buyers agent, had her busy printing out listings that fit our requirements in our price range. (Usually a bit over price range - but can't blame her for trying, & she seemed tipsy every time we met up to look at a house... Found out she was!).

During our house hunting, (nothing like HGTV's show), we drove by this house. Sign out front, "open house today". I got a "feeling".. We went back around the block & parked.
Getting out of car, walking up to house - I just felt "happy". Did this old house gave me a feeling of home - like Grandmas house, perhaps? I don't know - but it took me years after to "get it"... The heartfelt warmth of those long ago that worked so hard to build it, the image of shoe styles that clipped across the floors...
The idea of history can be addictive! Everyone said we were making a mistake - our buyers agent looked at us like we'd grown arms out of our ears, (maybe a bourbon- induced hallutionation, lol) - and perhaps they were all right. We didn't have a vision at the time, just a "Welcome home" feeling, & that counts for something!
My (late) Dad suggested leveling it, he meant with a wrecking ball - not floor jacks! (We continue the joke, in his memory). So, I get the floor thing.. Drop a marble upstairs & it'd be like a pinball machine till it reached the 1st floor, rolled to the ridge in living room, stopped & rolled back to.. (gotta try that & see where, lol).
You need to see what the inspection brings to light. Ours missed some big things - but you don't want to get into something that'll ruin you, because of a feeling! We still don't know what trouble this house is hiding - after 12 years.
Ever known an elderly person, that said... "If only we'd lived in THAT house, that we didn't buy... My family's lives would've been so much better"... About as likely as hearing "If only I had worked more hours, & spent less time with my family".
I love this house - but I hate, that - especially recently - I find myself annoyed that my kids want & need my attention, because I know I also need to work on house projects. Important as the projects are - & they ARE - I doubt I'll look back when I'm 70 & think... "I should have spent more time on the bathroom, stairs, etc, & less time enjoying my boys when they were so young..."
So much to consider - don't rush your decision, listen to what inspector has to say, & don't second-guess your decision once it's made. It'll work out, whatever you do.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 2:37AM
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You won't find many people here advising you to run away from a challenege with an old house. We've seen (even owned) much worse specimens than that tidy-looking little green house. We love 'em, sometimes to our great personal and financial cost.

And that's the catch: don't undertake a relationship with an old house without the ability to sink some considerable cash into it. You can decrease the amount of cash with sweat equity; decrease the immediate need for cash with patience and tolerance; and decrease the overall amount of cash needed by lowering your decorative and reno expectations. But you can cannot eliminate the need for cash, sometimes (and often at inconvenient junctures) the need for considerable cash.

Can you imagine (if you bought the house) being able to build up a house-dedicated (refilled when spent down) piggy bank of $5-15K from your existing budget and income? I'm not saying that you must have a nest egg of this size (or have it from the outset) to undertake this house (or any old house), but if you know right now you could never, ever, save up that amount then perhaps old houses are not for you, at least at this moment in your family's economic life. (With normal luck, that will improve in the future, so don't despair.)

Also having an old house, and a tight budget and the ensuing need for continual sweat equity and painful choices for whatever free cash you cobble together can be a recipe for marital stress, disharmony, and even divorce. Plus you don't want yours kids' only experience of childhood being Mom and Dad desperately toiling away every free second to try to get the house improved. Sometimes I think there's a reason so many old houses are fixed up by empty-nesters: they've got more time, and maybe less pressure on finances.

Anyhoo, here's some other thoughts:

(Bad things first)

Your kids will have a higher likelihood of clinically significant lead exposure if you're reno-ing and living there with them.

(This may shock you). I think it's a pity you've got vinyl siding and new windows, and even to some degree, insulation. Those are not improvements in my mind. There are complex reasons for my preference that aren't apparent to non-old house owners. If you get this house we can come back to flesh that out.

Now the not so scary thing: sloping floors. Sure it might mean the house is trembling on the edge of disaster but, far more commonly, it's a fairly benign sign of settling (which happens even in new houses). Because the house is older, its had more years to settle. Are the walls cracked? Do the walls lean visibly outward (hold a plumb bob to check)? Absent strong evidence of those signs, I am not too fussed. It is wise to have an engineer look at it. Hopefully you'll have chosen one with considerable old house experience. Some structural engineers positvely hate un-level, un-square, old houses and their quirks. You may just have to ignore slope-y floors. Most of us do, to one degree or another. The famous marble on the floor test was created to separate out the completely unsuitable people from the crowd of potential buyers. If you can face up to the roll and still like/love the house, you've passed the test.

If the house speaks to you and you can foresee gathering a stash of renovation cash after the purchase, then don't hesitate if both you and your spouse are equally intrigued by the idea. If only one is thoroughly ga-ga, then that may become a problem. No, I take that back, under those circumstances it will become a marital thorn.



    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:32AM
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I agree with ks...find out what the inspector says about the old house will settle over time, and usually that is part of a house's character, and not something structurally worrying. If you are a perfectionist, it will bug the crap out of you, but if you like old houses, it's 'charm'.

My house is from 1908, and has a slight lean toward the left front corner as you look at it from the street--not enough to notice visually, but a marble will roll across the dining room and into the living room toward that corner. My foundation is fine, and it isn't getting worse--it's been that way a long while. The house has made up for it by retaining original woodwork and lighting. About five years in, I needed a new roof, but my grandmother made a gift of it for me before she died.

Some pics showing part of my living room, and part of a column between the living room and hall. The free cat views are optional. :)

It sounds like you know what you are getting into, and it seems like a good deal from what you've said--I'd say 'go for it' depending on the inspector's report!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:43AM
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is it a stone or poured foundation? how sure are you about 1920? i think it is older than that.

if it is a stone foundation and not being on a hillside, some reasonable repair options should be available.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 7:45AM
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I think you were wise to post this here! :) Wait and see what the engineer says. We had a structural engineer come and inspect what looked like scary makeshift support beams in the basement of the home we wanted to buy. Between that and the fact that many floors were uneven, we were positive that there was some horrible problem and the engineer would tell us to run far away. Fortunately, everything ended up being just fine and we learned that day that uneven floors in old houses are by no means unusual OR indicative of problems!

I wish you the best of luck and please come back to update us on how you do. I hope you can get the house, it sounds like it's just right for you!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:00AM
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support beams like jlc mentions above are pretty common in older homes with stone foundations on certain soil types. sometimes you'll have a year of really high rain or something else and a bunch of foundations in a certain area get screwy.

but, they do lower the value of a house because of the "it's scary!" factor, but so long as that is figured into the purchase and eventual sales price, it isn't a big deal.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 10:56AM
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This thread has taken on a bit of breezy tone, but there are good reasons you got warnings about buying a "slanting" home.

Time doesn't make houses sink - movement does. Some movement is to be expected in an older home, but extreme movement could be a major issue. You are absolutely doing the right thing in bringing in an engineer to look at the home before purchasing it. You need to determine why the house is unlevel before you can determine if it is a big problem or not.

It is very important that you find professionals who have lots of experience dealing with old homes. eg - our house inspector was quite concerned that the kitchen "addition" on the back of our house sloped off so much and warned of foundation problems. A little investigation determined that it was originally a porch and was purposely designed with a slope to shed water. When they enclosed it, they just left the floor that way.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:32AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The reason you received so many cautions in the other thread wasn't because of old house prejudice. Plenty of us have owned older homes, emptied our pocketbooks for them, and lived to tell the tales.

And it's not the foundation problems per se that got you the responses either. Foundation problems can be fixed on most homes with enough cash thrown at them.

Which brings us to the reason you got so many "run away" responses. You indicated that buying this home was going to tax you financially, and that you didn't have good enough credit to qualify for a larger loan. Then you began to talk about high dollar renovations such as metal roofing,foundation repairs and completely re-engineering the stairs to the second floor.

This highlighted your rookie homeowner status as well as your rookie renovator status and rang alarm bells. These aren't projects that can be undertaken by someone on a limited budget with limited DIY skills. There is too great of a possibility of hidden issues that can run into money. You've indicated that is an issue. You run the risk of losing your home if the repairs are beyond your ability to pay for. THAT is the caution that you received. Being house poor only works if you do have enough disposable income and skills to put into that house. With 6 children in the picture and money troubles, you're not likely to have enough left over at the end of your month to be able to also afford to do things to the home. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 2:54PM
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Hollysprings-First off, I don't have money troubles, just because I filed for bankruptcy doesn't mean I am broke. I have MONEY, I don't have credit! BIG BIG BIG difference. And just because I have money, does not mean I am going to pay top dollar for everything. If you pay full price for everything because you can afford will eventually be broke.

I personally have limited DIY skills, my husband on the other hand is completely capable of designing and building a house with his bare hands(with tools of course). I PERSONALLY came to the forum to get ideas and information. Just because my husband is a smart man and very handy, doesn't mean there aren't any other DIY suggestions, remodeling suggestions that we may like instead. I asked about the foundation because my husband and I know nothing about foundation..which is why we hired an engineer.

The stair post I had done, was to merely get suggestions on how to fix them..I DONT care about cost...I came here for idea's not to post my every single financial detail online to people I don't know, but I will if I have to. I live frugally, I am on a budget because I put myself on a budget. You don't jump into a renovation without having a budget...just because you can afford a 30k kitchen, doesn't mean you have to have one. My husband and I have plenty of money saved and coming in.

I am looking at this house from a financial standpoint, I have to...everyone does when considering purchasing a home. I can readily spend 25k on a new foundation...does that mean I want to...NO, will I...probably, because I love the house that much. Will it put a damper in my life? I may not be able to take that nice vacation this year, but it definitely beats the crap out of throwing my money away in rent, on a small duplex, in a crappy neighborhood. And I can raise 6 kids financially and have plenty left over. Anyone with any amount of income can live a very nice life if they budget correctly and live way under their financial means. Since everyone is into my financial details, I had to file bankruptcy because I WAS NOT SMART when co-signing for my ex husbands 40k car...and when I left him he quit making the payments, and I was not going to have a vehicle I had to make monthly payments on. So in a nutshell...I have money to pay my bills, but not anyone else's especially my ex-husband.

Now, that I aired ALL or just about all my dirty laundry on a forum. I would like to say thank you to everyone here who has commented. I understand completely, that even though I stick to a strict budget, I am willing to flex a bit where and when I need to in order to have this home. Are my emotions clouding my judgement? Yeah, probably. But you never know how things are going to turn out, unless you try it.

Anyways, I will post later, I am quite frustrated right now lol. By the husband got the loan on his own, I cannot get approved for a loan until I build my credit back up. I'm not going to be like everyone else, and go out and buy a 100k new construction home, and be miserable, just to have something that everyone besides me likes to look at.

I'm going to go drive to the house, after already feels like home ;)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:03PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Look, I'm not trying to make you mad here. I'm trying to help you take off your blinders. I've lived through the endless "renovation as a lifestyle" bit. When money is tight, work stops. Even work that shouldn't stop. Holes remain the the plaster with no insulation stopping the cold winter winds. The kitchen doesn't get it's doors, and the new appliances age into elderly ones while everything around them never gets done because the money isn't there and the time isn't there either. The major breadwinner is too busy trying to get some overtime in order to afford the exhorbitant gas bill from the 1915 no insulation in the walls or ceiling home.

I lived through all of that as a kid, and I wouldn't wish it on any child. You have a certain shame that you live in the "junky" house, the one with half done projects everywhere. You never invite friends over. You live with piles of construction materials taking up space and being poorly cleaned around. You live this way for years because there is never enough time and money to ever complete the house. You listen to the fights that this causes. The yelling. The drinking. The loss of respect and the eventual scorn. The divorce and all of the additional financial strain and stress that causes.

All of it caused by a "beautiful little gem" of a Craftsman fixer upper. You aren't my parents. But, you could be if you aren't very very careful.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 4:36PM
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...what just happened, here? I'm confused! You "sent" her here for advice - which she got, the good bad & the ugly, lol. Then you followed her here, to embarrass her like that, but you're "not trying to make her mad"?

I'm sorry you had a rough childhood - no one deserves that... But, "transference", much?

You do realize what forum you're in, right - I mean... "Hel-LO, we can HEAR you"... ;-)

Personally, I'm really bummed to find out I'm going to start fighting, yelling, turn into a drunk, hate my husband & get a divorce!! Dang-it. And my kids are miserable & humiliated. Shoot. Here I was, thinking it was a good thing that my older son was learning "how things work" - old & new, comparing them, getting to help with (some) projects & being so proud of each improvement that he wants to drag every friend & family member (& probably strangers off the street if I'd let him) in to "show it off" & brag about any role he had in the process.
I'm gonna go have a bunch of beers, then send hubby a really-really mean text about not getting that vanity installed. Might as well get started on the inevitable road to destruction. Wish I'd known sooner - I wouldn't have wasted 18 years of marriage (& 12 of them in this old house) NOT doing those things.
Btw - I'm NOT making "light" of your childhood... I had a parent that drank too much when I was young - & yeah, it was tough sometimes. There are a lot of reasons why people drink & fight... You're blaming the house, I blamed myself - both are wrong answers. People are what they are, & will do what they do. No one thing (or kid's naughty behavior) causes it - something else would have, or did.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 5:53PM
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You're not going to know anything until the engineer inspects the house so don't get ahead of that information; be patient; you can always panic later.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Ks_toolgirl- I think if you were my neighbor we would be best friends! Thank you, so much. I actually came back here because I am a bit livid with the sellers lol. The RUINED my house lmao...well they did it about 5yrs ago by tearing down the wood on the exterior and putting on this green looks okay vinyl siding. I was doing some research on "My" house online and found a picture of it back in I believe 2005. It was absolutely beautiful, and I would probably have never questioned the purchase had I seen it back then lol.

Anyways, it's a weird picture file I pulled of a site called beacon, I will see if photobucket will let me upload it, then I will obviously put it on here. I will like to say I want the OLD look back, forget the green siding which I liked until I seen the house with the natural wood exterior. Grrr!

Oh, And Thank you again!

hollysprings- First off, I am sorry you had a bad childhood. Second off, I and my husband would NEVER turn into your parents over a house, because we are not your parents. Everyone argues over stupid things and over big things, it is the natural process of marriage, but it also depends on how close of a relationship you have with your partner. I would NEVER EVER allow money to be tight over taking care of my kids. My kids will never be embarrassed to live in the "junky" house, I will also never allow building materials to lay around inside my's called cleaning up after yourself as you go...same rule of thumb to minimize dishes when your cooking that big holiday supper. And to not get ahead of yourself, start one project at a time and finish it before you start another. If the project is to much to handle, like my stairs for example...thats when you call in a professional, I have no issues letting go of pride and saying it's to much on certain things to do myself, or in better words help the hubby do. Third and lastly, we don't drink...well alcohol that is. I have 6 children, what kind of parents would we be, to be getting drunk all the time and allowing our children suffer for things they had nothing to do with. I have been through a divorce, I know how ugly it is, and I know how hard it is to deal with the daily abuse, and how crappy I felt to allow my 3 boys see every last bit of it, leaving them hiding in a closet out of fear. I learned from that mistake and I will NEVER do it again.

So, don't compare me to your family/parents because you can't compare one person to the next, we are all different. And offering advice purely off of a bad childhood, could ruin someones chances of being happy living in their dream home.

Now, all personal criteria aside, I am here for one reason...advice, information and I will take all I can get regardless if I buy the house or not. If I dont buy this old farm house, I WILL buy a different old farm house.

Back on topic- How much work would it be to gain back what the sellers did to my house? Could the wood be under the vinyl siding? And would it be livable while "restoring" the natural old farm house look?

Well hubby had to do something to convert the type of file it was to a jpeg. Anyways here it is...6yrs ago. And I want it to look like it did back then.

Also, notice the porch roofing, it's not leaning in this pic compared to the green pic i uploaded with the original post. However the sellers said the floors have been like that when they bought the home too. Foundation is sound, but it still may need a support beam and joists...I dunno i'm leaving all that to the engineer lol

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 7:02PM
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Renovator8, or - change her mind later, lol... I don't think the purchase is made, yet.

I realize my last post sounded.. Mean. I apologize - I do that - & I have a snarky "Monty Python" personality. I felt that the OP deserved to come "here", ask questions, & have them answered based on the information she chose to provide. If financial info isn't offered, it isn't my "business". We didn't give "Mary Poppins" advice, it was all realistic - don't make a mistake - not every old house is a logical purchase - advice. Then it felt like she was "outed", financially. Relevant info? Absolutely, cash flow plays a huge part of old-house ownership. (uck!). But only if presented by the poster, themselves.
Liriodendron (who is awesome & rational, FWIW) was VERY clear in covering that aspect. Everything she said was true, perhaps even watered-down a little bit. "Old House = New Debt". I'm NOT referring to mortgage, it's the couple-grand here, $4000 there, that starts out as a $500 project - & ends up on your credit card... "Just this once".
Even if you can do-it-yourself... How many tools do you own? None of us mentioned this, yet! You'd think the basics would cover it - wrench, screwdrivers, hammer, etc. Suddenly & when you least expect or NEED this - you have to buy special plumbing tools. Ka-ching. Special Drywalling tools. Ka-ching. You've GOT to have a table saw... Router... A good drill & 8000 bits. (but you won't know where they are, so ya keep buying more at harbor freight - because it's cheap there & you've figured out they'll disappear.. Hopefully after you finish the project, lol).
Before you know what happened, you have thousands of dollars worth of tools & power-tools, & since you have an old house - without storage, where will you put them? Hopefully, NOT piled in your family room, being vacuumed around... But Hollysprings made a valid point -to a degree... they will be around until that project is done.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 8:10PM
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Lady, keep your spirits up--bankruptcy isn't a crime and goes away after seven years, and you can meanwhile rebuild your finances. You mentioned money not being a problem--wish that was MY position--and I'd say it is wisest to deal in cash or checks rather than credit any day of the week!

I think the major problem with the porch is probably that awful metal column--it's from the 50s or so--the original would have been wood. The siding on the second pic looks like it's from the 20s-30s to me--also not original if the house is older than that, but if you like it, then removing the vinyl will likely show it to still be there. I'd figure the attic will need major insulating--a diy project--and I'd be sealing any drafts on the lower floors--another diy project--before insulating the side walls; stopping the drafts will make the house warmer and give time to choose other methods.

Let's hope the engineer turns in a good report!

And to holly--shame on you! Go sit in the corner facing the wall until recess!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:02PM
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(Dang - I never learn! Start a post, go back to something else, & ages later finish & submit it). Gee, still want to be my neighbor? Think again - lol - no workshop, sawhorses & powertools get drug to front yard - why not back? After large pieces (of whatever) are cut it's way easier to carry in through front door. And the sawing is usually done late - after hubby finally gets home from work, eats, & gets to it. Poor fella, sometimes he really needs a vacation - but keeps his grouchy to himself.

My last post expanded on another Old House Ownership issue - the TOOLS. It's a bit of a toss-up, pay to have others do the work (& know it's done right), or pay for every new tool the next project requires. Both add up, big-time. $$$

Liriodendron is the one for advice regarding siding - not me. She's (?) educated about that more than I, & I'm sure it's felt passionately about. I blew it there. We paid big bucks to have ours Saran-wrapped, before we knew better. I assume the wood is under yours, but I'll let Liriodendron take that subject. We regret doing it - but we covered asbestos shingles, not wood. We were easily convinced, at the time, that it was "The way to go". Assuming clapboard is under there somewhere, that's a project I look forward to tackling someday.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:03PM
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Tools aren't an issue, and frankly with the large garage...neither is storage ;) My husband only works 3 days a week, granted they are 12hr shifts. I work from home mostly but I do commute to an office once a week, usually on a Friday when most of the kids, besides my 8mo old are all over friends' house for the night.

My husband is a machine mechanic, and tools lots and lots of tools are must haves, table saw check, wet saw name it he has it. He has done 8yrs of roofing and worked as a carpenter while getting his engineer degree in college.

I am a surgical technician in the animal health field, but I have recently wanted to switch careers and I have been undecided on what I want to be when I grow up, so I stay home and make money as a customer service rep and data entry.

I will get in depth financially just a bit. We have 6 months worth of rent and normal "bill" money saved in an account, in case one of us or both of us cannot work due to illness or injury. So $530+ a month times 6 months. Then we have about 6k in regular savings, and 10k in liquid. Living way under our means despite being financially able to rent a bigger home, has helped with all of this. We have budgets for everything, including our food lol. We limit grocery costs by making everything homemade and from scratch. I don't own a bread maker...I am the bread maker, yes its all done by hand.

As far as hubby keeping his grouchy to himself...unlikely, he is VERY open, we are both very open about everything. We have talked for years about which houses appeal to us before we even attempted a loan. And we have both decided that the older houses have so much potential, much more than newer construction in our opinion.

We both understand that OLD houses take a lot of work, a lot more money, and you rarely get a profit from it in resale, well besides a few more grey hairs for the hubby, I will never have grey hair ;) We are looking for a forever home, not something to tie us over until we can get a bigger loan when my credit is reestablished. Old houses are exciting, scary, and money pits lol we get that, but it's perfect in every way.

He double hockey stick- I bought a Buick Rendezvous 2002 used, one of the BIGGEST money pit vehicles out there, very poorly built mechanically, I traded in a loaded 04 toyota camry for a gas guzzling hunk of metal scrap lol, but I got lucky, only ran out of gas once...well almost, which was this morning lol and had to replace a rear spring. It has electrical issues, but it's character, when the lights flash on and off with the alarm sounding loud as ever while im driving down the street in town, people stare, I tell them she is complaining about gas prices.

I like to take what people call "not worth it" and make it worth it, and show them that anything whether it's a person, a vehicle, or an old house thats falling to pieces can be worth it if you look at it all in a positive and humorous way. I could be sitting on the couch and have a wall fall down, I might cry because it's a surprise downfall, but there is always a positive in a negative and there is always humor in both.

"The house I am looking to purchase is like the dorky kid in a preppy school. All she needs is a hair cut, mini skirt and some high heels, and even though she may be unpleasant to deal with at times, she is good to look at" (From the mouth of my husband!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:42PM
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There are some good points being made on both sides here, although the emotion is clouding them a bit.

Old homes have a charm that new ones usually cannot manage. They are often an entry level way into home ownership for handy folks because they can be picked up for a bargain.

On the other hand, I think there's a line here somewhere that has the best description yet: owning an old home isn't a hobby, it's a lifestyle. There are worse things that you could do with your money. At least it's not being spent on drugs or some other destructive past time. And if you enjoy working on scraping old paint and varnish every day for months on end, then you will never want for entertainment! It's like any other hobby. It's done for the process of the hobby more than it's done for the actual results of all of the time and money spent. Almost every one I know who has owned an old home sold it once they got it back to most of it's former glory. They were bored without projects to work on.

The only advice I'd give you if you go ahead is to take lots of pictures. It helps to document your progress. Especially on those days when you feel like you haven't made any progress. You can pull out the albums and see how far you've come from where you started.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:57PM
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Lady Vix

Don't grieve too much for that tan-colored exterior. It may not have been real wood siding either but something even more vexing than vinyl: a kind of chipboard stuff that was used c late 60's. It didn't last very well so it's disappeared from the market.

Of course I can't tell for certain from the pic, but the width and evenness of the boards, the lack of corner trim and the absence of header trim over the windows make me think that the tan stuff in the second picture may just have been an earlier round of regrettable reno choices.

At the very least, the vinyl was probably installed with some sort of insulative backer, so the house may be cheaper to heat for the time being. 'Course it also may be developing trapped moisture within the walls problems, but only deep inspection will tell.

At any rate, it's "only" siding, and not the end of the world to replace. You can even do it one side at a time if finances, energy, or spare time are tight.

As to whether to buy an old house in general: the important thing is to figure out whether or not you get a kick out of both the idea of fixing up AND for actually doing the fixing. If renovating a wreck is the only way to get into housing, then you may not have the financial flexibility for the project and that's when it becomes more misery and drudgery than it's worth.

From time to time on this forum we get queries from people who seem just about crushed by the work, cost, and household disorder that any reno project entails. Sometimes we can help them see daylight enough to wriggle out to a more positive viewpoint, but sometimes I feel very sorry for them as I think they would be better off if they simply cashed it in and walked away.

One last thought: Don't think of your rent payment as "throwing away your money". You're not throwing it away, you're buying shelter, which is as essnetial as buying food or clothing. The whole rent as waste thing appeared a few years back during the housing boom when the notion that owning was better than renting because of the belief that you'd anchor your financial security in the ("never fail" !!!) appreciation of your house's value. The result was that too many people began to see their houses not so much as required shelter for themselves and family but as financial engines. This lead to the expectation that housing prices would just go up and up and each time the owner could harvest more and more money from the speculative gains of the bubble. Which appeared to be true until it all came tumbling down causing greivous financial damage to many families who were caught trying ride this investment roller-coaster on borrowed money.

You're much safer, at least with your housing dollars, to try to match what you can realistically spend on shelter with what you're investing in your house purchase or rent payment. Neither is a waste of money since both are buying what you need no matter what.

But if you like the idea of fixing up an old house, and your time and effort and the on-going investment in tools, supplies, etc., can fit in your budget as it now exists, rather than how it may pay off at some future date, then you should be OK. And if in the end you sell your house for more than you've got in it in real dollars, then your human-capital investment will be monetized. But there's always the chance that that the effort and time will only pay off in the increased pleasure, comfort and pride you have in your house. It's critical to make ALL your reno choces with that possibility in mind, unless you are a professional doing this work for a living.



    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:34PM
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"I will also never allow building materials to lay around inside my's called cleaning up after yourself as you go."

That just made me laugh. I'm sure everyone has that intention, but it is probably a good indication that you've just never taken on a project like this before. You WILL have materials around. It is just a reality of working full time and then working on the house part time. If you only have a couple hours to work on something and you spend a bunch of time setting up and a bunch of time cleaning up, you just don't get much accomplished.

If you are going to renovate an old home, you are going to spend significant time "living in a construction zone." It isn't going to scar you or your children for life etc, but it can certainly be stressful if your expectation is "clean and orderly at all times." It is just one of those truisms or renovating- it is cost more than you think, it will take longer than you think, and it will be a bigger mess than you think.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:22AM
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You're looking for someone to verify your emotional attachment to this home. But you'd be wiser to distance yourself a bit until the engineer's report comes in.

It's normal to start dreaming about a home you're wanting to buy. You are probably already doing a lot of mental redecorating and imagining how good life can be in that house. Everybody does this when buying a home, I think. It's necessary, in a way, to see if the house is a good fit for your family's needs.

But don't invest too much emotion in a house before you sign the ownership papers. So much can go wrong between the shopping stage & the actual purchase. Maybe that foundation really IS a nightmare to finance & fix, maybe the upgrades were done cheaply & will cause problems later, maybe your job situation will change. The reminder about lead paint is something to think hard about with children in the house.

Go with your brains for now. Save the heart stuff for after you move in (if you do). Too many people think you can only be happy if you follow your heart, but there are loads of happy people who followed their brains!

Finally, happiness in a home comes more from the people in it than from any architectural charm (though that architectural charm is a nice addition!).

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 12:27PM
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Thank you everyone, My husband and I have a lot to consider. I am very pleased with the answers I have gotten here. I'm glad to know WHY some of the repair people are telling me to run away lol. Well Kind of, wouldn't they just LOVE old houses as those are probably their main resources for income? Don't understand that, but oh well.

See my husband and I balance each other out, I look at things with heart, and emotions, and he is practical. Thinking things through before he makes a decision. And even though he usually puts me first, I know he won't allow us to get into a situation that would cause major family distress. It can happen, I understand that 100% But aren't these comments and advice relative to all older homes? Or is it just the really out of date, bad boned houses?

I have no intentions of putting my children in danger. I read all about having the walls and pipes tested for lead. I know the sellers have told me that the paint which is on the walls now, are not lead based. And they weren't when he and his family bought the home in 2005. He had the pipes tested, but I didn't see that paper work, so im not taking his word for it. I will have it tested myself.

The house has been sitting on the market for over a year, I think I have time to have all sorts of things checked over and looked at before really making a decision. The house isn't bought yet...We are considering purchasing it, but I need to make sure, the house isn't going to collapse.

Now I was also wondering. What can make a new roof go bad really quick? The house in the green pic, needs roofing BADLY, but the house with the shutters, looks to have a new red colored roof? That was only 6yrs ago, I would think the roof would still be decent. Hubby said it really depends on weather and type of shingle. We have nasty weather here, heavy snow, below freezing temps, lots of flooding in spring, drought in late summer, large hail storms with very high winds. But I'm wondering if it was a botched DIY job, cause that can also lead to some messy problems.

Uhg. Decisions, decisions lol

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 1:07PM
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ladyvixen, when you get the engineer's report, would you mind listing all the positives about the house and all the negatives? Maybe then we can all come up with better ideas of expenses vs. advantages. I can see why the home appeals to you: space, convenience, schools. Those are important too. Did I read correctly in the other forum it has a 3 car garage in the back?

Maybe too we can help prioritize a list of repairs. Are you just wanting the house to be functionally sound, or are you hoping to do an extensive restoration?

Also, just curious: do you have to travel far to a Lowes, HD, etc?

(and keep repeating to yourself: "brains over heart, brains over heart..." LOL!)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 1:31PM
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Unless they're solid stone or brick, old homes hold for me all the appeal of fresh kindling.

But if you can make it work for you a lot cheaper than comparable housing, go for it.

BTW, those "charming" icicles indicate a major heat leakage that should be addressed at once before cosmetic matters.

I'm sure between looking after six children, baking bread from scratch etc., there will be no building materials around, nor a speck of dust to be seen.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 2:16PM
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I just wanted to add, if the house has been on the market for a year - & asking price has dropped so much, there may be a reason for that... And I'm not talking about the economy & housing market. :-0 If so, hopefully inspections will provide the answers you need.
Regardless - I realize you have a serious crush on this house, (but you don't know it well enough to call it "love" yet, lol). If this house doesn't turn out to be the one for you - that's just an opportunity to look around a bit more & find The One. :-)

Those icicles have been really bothering me, also... Wonder if that had something to do with the roof being replaced? And was the problem resolved at that time?
Worthy - that's just plain silly. Everybody knows bread "gets born" at the grocery store. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 4:09PM
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LOL Worthy, your probably right about not seeing a single dust bunny in the home, the way I am. As far as major restorative work, no. Making it livable? Already is. It's not a complete gut-it-out home. It's very functional. Just not pretty, lots of outdated things like cabinets, but having a killer kitchen is luxury, as long as I can cook, and bake...I'm fine with the way it looks.

As far as the icicles go, what type of issues would make them do that? Every house I have always lived in, new or old has had icicles at some point in the winter, even my rental has them. I guess I always seen them as "normal" We get temps that drop to 30 below at night after a mild day.

The picture with the icicles was taken in 2005. Heat leakage as in the inside heat is escaping from the home somewhere? I know the furnace was replaced Dec 2010. And of course, when I get the report from the engineer I can list whats on it, to get further help from all you wonderful people.

Traveling to a HD or Lowes- Not to far of a drive, maybe about 15min. As far as the garage goes, it's considered a 2 car but it has enough room for a second very compact one of those 2 seater match box cars(no offense lol) Or an ATV. I would be using the area for storage, and my freezers. I only have one vehicle right now, and won't be needing a second one until maybe next year when I decide what im doing career wise and head back to school.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 4:39PM
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Ladyvixen- I have an old farmhouse I plan to remodel and I've gotten some negative feedback...and some positive feedback. Bottom line, no one knows what's best in your situation, but you! Talk to the inspectors and engineers, be informed of all you options, and then make YOUR decision. It's your life and your choice.

As for your financial situation, who cares? None of my business or anyone else's, since I'm not loaning you any money. I've had people on these forums question my word, accuse me of lying about what I do for a living, whether I really own the farmhouse, whether I'm naive or just stupid, for planning to remodel an older home, rather than build new. All I can say...some people have WAY too much time on their hands and take the comments for what they're worth...nothing.

Now, go have some fun, plan your remodel and do a bit of dreaming! Then, get all the information, sit down with your DH and decide what is the best option for you and your circumstances. I hope things work out for's a cute house and you have the will and energy to make it a home, again :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 6:07PM
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As far as the icicles go, what type of issues would make them do that?

Icicles are the result of ice dams that may back up between the shingles and roofing causing major damage to the roof sheathing and the insulation and ceiling below.

Ice dams arise from a combination of inadequate insulation, air leaks and thermal bridges. (See link for detailed causes and cures.)

If the Vendor is agreeing to redo the roof, be sure to specify at least three feet of ice and water shield at the roof edges.

Icicles were much neater when I was a kid in rural Ohio and they looked like magical suckers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Science Corp on Ice Dams

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 11:26PM
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Worthy - when we were kids, they WERE magical suckers... & when we didn't like drinking plain-ol-water, we sucked on those like they.. Tasted good, lol. :-)

Thanks for posting that link - something I've wondered about, but didn't take time to look-up, myself. (I knew about the insulation bit, though. Hubby & I, driving home one winter day, 11 years ago... I said "Oh, look, our new roof is the only one that doesn't have snow on it! Too bad everyone else on the street can't get a new roof". He rolled his eyes, explained it to me, & added insulation very soon after. I am a dork, it's true. :-)
For the record, though... There are icicles, that have to be expected occasionally... but the pic above - "suspended glaciers"!! And thinking about holding up all the weight that the porch roof was dealing with - made my back hurt.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Worthy- THANK YOU! So much for that link. I always thought icicles were "normal". I do think some icicles are to be expected when you have warmer days and colder nights going into spring. I need a new roof, so maybe I can ask about that membrane stuff going up before the shingles...Ka ching lol, but thats only if we take the house.

Also, we have NO attic, hubby said we would have to take ceilings down(drywall) to put up insulation. Is there any other way? And I think that might explain why this roof needs new shingles every year, besides the bad storms, and they probably make it a DIY project and have no idea how to roof.

I'm waiting for Monday to come lol....I can't wait to hear what the engineer has to say. Now are there any questions in particular that I should ask about? Or should I just shut up and watch him do his job?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:18AM
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"hubby said we would have to take ceilings down(drywall) to put up insulation."

Drywall is easy enough to replace.

I would be more worried about the condition of the roof deck.

Make sure the old roof is stripped to check the condition.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:04PM
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Ladyvixen, we were in our 30's in 1985 when we bought our 1898 house. Looking back, we were very young. Neither my husband nor I had any skills or knowledge at all about how to work on houses. All we knew was that our house was nearly intact, was very inexpensive, and that we loved it. I had always wanted an old house, and had been buying things such as light fixtures, hardware, etc., for years before we bought the house.

We bought the house "as is". Fortunately we were both employed and had no children. We had to hire almost everything done, and it needed a lot of work. We did not take a vacation for years. Then came a time of around a year or two that my husband was either unemployed or underemployed. During that time, the house just didn't get worked on. We didn't care that we lived in an unfinished house; in fact, I thought it was beautiful from day one.

We have a corner in the dining room where all the little balls the cats play with end up, but you don't notice the slope otherwise. It has taken us over 25 years, and we are almost finished, but still have some work to do. We should have it finished by now, but are in our 60's now and do like to take a vacation now and then.

Also we sometimes didn't have work done even when we had the money, because we were tired of the mess of having things torn up. We lived with a practically non-existent kitchen until about 2004.

I said all along that this house was my dream house. People would look at me funny, but it was and still is my dream house.

Don't let others talk you out of your dream. Make the decision based on what you want and what you think you can handle. If you think you can live with an unfinished house for years, go for it. If you have to have everything finished and perfect, you shouldn't buy an old house. I have the ablility to not even see the unfinished stuff until we get ready to do something about it.

I meant this to be an encouragement to you, but reading back on it, maybe this will scare you because it has taken us so long. Don't let that scare you--you can do it faster than we did!

I will try to attach some pictures if I can.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:35AM
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Catperson- Thank you! These are very encouraging words. I look forward to owning an older home, whether it's the one i'm currently looking at, or one down town, or in the city..I will one day own my "new" old home.

Depending on what tomorrow brings, we will know for sure. As long as she has decent bones to work with, everything else no matter size or cost will all be minor in comparison to living and owning our dream home!

We even took the kids to the house for the first time today, and my older son BEGGGED us not to let this one slip away. He even said he would try and be of some assistance, and kids are never to old or young to teach and show that hard work can bring some of the most beautiful payoffs you could ever imagine. We look forward to the adventure!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:59AM
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What were you thinking???

I truly hope it works out, hope to see positive results of inspection soon.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 4:07AM
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What was I thinking?? As in bringing the kids to see the house? lol They blackmailed me ;)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:23AM
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Ladyvixen, I will try to post some photos of our house. I am not very good at this, and they wouldn't let me do it last night, so let's see if I get it right this time.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 12:13AM
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Catperson, your house is amazing!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:34AM
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Catperson, thank you for that lovely tour through your house! You showcase not just the results, but what goes into getting them.
I can sure see why this is your dream house :-)


    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 12:54AM
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Fori is not pleased

I sure wish you hadn't led off your post by dismissing women as poor thinkers. Don't sell yourself short--you're obviously thinking.

If the foundation checks out okay, it looks like a winner.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 5:03PM
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