What to look for in a 1958 ranch for sale

UpNorthHeyFebruary 3, 2013

Are there any particular issues to look for in a 1958 ranch house?

I know the wiring has been updated and it now has vinyl siding and they said some insulation, but otherwise the plumbing and heating (baseboard radiators) look original. Can't see the roof due to snow.

If I move ahead, of course the offer will be contingent on a building inspection.

It feels like a solid house--did they build them better back then? Or is a 50 year-old house trouble?

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We have a 1959 home (not a ranch, though). Extremely solid and well built, much more so than most of homes we looked at that were built later. A 50's house isn't automatically trouble, but of course it depends on the house.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Check the attic and crawl space insulation. Ask for utility bill history. Older homes can be under insulated and generate high heating bills.

Run water in the tub and sinks and see how fast it drains. Old plumbing could have blockages in it.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:29PM
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We sold a 50's ranch when we retired & moved to our newly built home in Florida.

Let me tell you, our previous home was FAR better than our current one. It was much better built, and extremely solid.

We did have to insulate the 50's house, & also replaced the single pane windows. There were never any plumbing or electrical problems.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Check the water supply lines.

This period still saw a lot of galvanized steel supply lines, and they are well past there design life (around 30 years).

There may also be galvanized steel DWV lines, and they are well past design life.

For supply lines, open multiple faucets at the same time and see ow much flow decrease you see in longer lines (especially).

DWV lines rust out from the inside in, and may be very thin at this point, or even have debris plugging rusted through spots.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:03AM
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I would say on the average they were still building good in the 50's.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Fori is not pleased

It might have Orangeburg sewer piping (bituminous fiber pipe). If so, expect to have to replace it sooner or later. Really, all the plumbing might be ready to be replaced if it hasn't been, but it shouldn't be a surprise.

Totally worth a few plumber visits to enjoy the gracious 50s ranch lifestyle. :)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:22PM
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We have a 1951 home that we bought late last year. All of our previous homes were either built by us or built post-2000. We love our older home.

We are having some plumbing issues as noted above, due to galvanized pipes. Nothing too major though. We also upgraded our electricity panel from a 120 (I think!) to a 200 amp.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:35PM
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We've been in our 1949 home for 14 years. In that time we've upgraded our electrical service to 200 ($3000), replaced windows (17K), torn out both bathrooms (3K, but DIY), replaced part of cast iron main sewer pipe because is rusted (was pitched wrong in a spot so water sat in it, cost was rolled into basement finishing so not sure how much $$), new roof (5K). Those were the only age-related needs the house has had -- we're perpetual tinker-ers so we've also replaced doors and woodwork, added crown moulding. Well worth doing all of it, the house is built like a rock, and to be honest, our previous house was only 20 years old and on the verge of needing all of the same stuff -- the windows here were 55 years old before we replaced them, the ones in our 1980's house were 15 when they were showing signs of failure -- same with the bathrooms. I honestly think you're much better off with a mid-century build than with anything late 20th century. Really.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 10:12AM
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We purchased our 1952 house in 2004, and it's the best built house we've ever had. It's built like a tank, which we saw as it was taken down to the studs for a kitchen remodel. The thoughtful design, plaster walls, quality throughout have endeared it to us over the years. Fortunately, it was remodeled carefully over the years, and we've continued with that. I love the 50s tile in the bathrooms. We are replacing the vanity in our bathroom, but the tile walls, floor and shower stay. We have replaced the tile floor, not original to the kitchen, with hardwood and have put hardwood floors in the family room as well. The dining room has the original parquet hardwood, and that same parquet is under the carpet in the living room and bedrooms as well. When we had to replace some fittings for our shower and the guest bath, they proved to be American Standard and parts were still available. I love this house!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:15PM
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