Do you like Older homes - or McMansions ?

toomuchglassAugust 13, 2007

I grew up in an old Victorian home ... 9 rooms. After I got married - DH & I rented a modern apartment. UGH ! Paper thin walls !

Then we rented a lower flat .... totally small & generic. I didn't like it.

We then bought our first "starter" home. This baby was SOLID ! ( 100 + years old !) I hated the "smallness" - but loved the construction . (ahh-- the good old days - when a 2 x 4 was actually 2" x 4" .... !)

Then it came time to move ... &

decide --- we could afford either a McMansion or an old home ....

I chose ..........

the older home.

McMansions have space - great layouts ... totally modern with tons of options for decorations ...

but I opted for a sturdy old home.

What's your choice ? Neither one is right or wrong .... they are both awesome in their own ways ... which one would you like ?

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I will never live in a home built after 1960. We have owned 3 homes and all were built before 1920. Sturdy older homes are our way to go!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:54PM
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I love older homes. Farmhouses, Victorians, Craftsman, name it. I have never lived in a "new" home and have no desire to do so. Given the choice between a new behemoth and a rundown in need of major renovation oh my goodness what have we done, I'd choose the latter hands down. Older houses speak to you if you're willing to listen. Sometimes in whispers, a bit at a time. But if you're smart enough to hear what they're saying the rewards are endless.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 8:42AM
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Hmmm....maybe it's just me, but if we're talking about smaller homes here - under 2000 sq. ft. - then I don't think any of us are living in mansions, Mc. or otherwise!

I love older homes, but in my area there are totally out of my price range, so I live in a new one. Is it a character-less, soulless McMansion? Not at all! I don't think there is anything in my neighbourhood I would call a McMansion, actually. We did not build, but we bought the house from someone who was being transferred after living there for only 4 months.

I have to give credit to this builder for having some really nice models and for putting in some character-building features - high ceilings, no stucco, interesting level changes, nice room divisions, reasonably sized rooms, bay windows, substantial mouldings and really well-done finishes. Also, the builder's policy is to leave large old trees when they are clearing the lots, so our neighbourhood doesn't have that brand-new & naked look, lol.

My first choice would be to live in a home with history, sure, but for the moment I'm more than happy with my nearly-maintenance-free, beautiful, not-too-big, almost-new house.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 9:32AM
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My house is an antique reproduction. It looks like a little Cape from the early 1700s, but it was built in 1981! I know it was well constructed because the builder built it for his own mother.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:19AM
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I too love older homes, but I must admit, I have been thinking about building a home lately. I don't know, maybe its because the houses that are really old around here are either in horrible shape and are still more than $100K or they are already renovated and are way out of my price range. We do live in a house that was built in 1955 and it is very solid. But it really doesn't have a lot of the character that people think of when they talk about living in an "older" house. It's a post WWII ranch (for lack of a better description). More of a boxy small ...cottage (as I like to think of it). maybe that's in my imagination!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Oh, happymary, I envy the prices in your area! In the town I live in (up in MA) a tear-down on a small lot is at least $250,000.

I love the 50s era ranches! They are very well built and have an appeal all their own. I can picture the kids that probably lived in your house back then, playing with Slinkies and watching George Reeves as Superman on a black and white TV. What a great time period!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 2:32PM
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I grew up in a 200 y/o cape in CT, and there's nothing like it! You do have to be a certain kind of person, who is willing to trade comfort and convenience for charm. Our house was very original, w/ hand-hewn wide floorboards and 4 fireplaces (in a smallish house). On the other hand, we often had frozen pipes, and the house plants I tried to grow in my bedroom froze one winter! For me, an old house is more of a young person's thing- the maintenance and headaches get to be less fun in one's old age, unless upgrades are made.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 5:08PM
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"Older houses speak to you if you're willing to listen. Sometimes in whispers, a bit at a time."

Our little old house sighs and groans and creaks but I'm hard of hearing so I miss most of the theatrics. ;^)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 11:36PM
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We are closing in a couple of weeks on a house built in 1900 (1500sf but feels much bigger). We are very lucky because it has been replumbed, rewired, and has a completely new heating system, new insulated windows (awful aesthetically, but wonderful for heating/cooling), new siding/housewrap/insulation (ditto). It's like it has the charm and feel of an old house - wraparound porch with original beadboard ceiling, wide pine floors, bay window, highish ceilings, big windows with broad moldings (we noticed that the doors and some windows had old moldings and the new moldings on other windows matched exactly, so he did a good job there), old doors with period hardware - with the "tough stuff" all taken care of. I think we can afford it because it doesn't have a garage (well, in 1910 it was a garage, LOL, but now it's a shed), it doesn't have a proper driveway, and it's on the gentrifying border of an iffy neighborhood which may have scared many people away. But it's also all old houses - I think the newest house on the street is from the Forties - and mature trees lining the street. Our lot has two huge trees out front that we think were planted when the house was built, and dozens in the back including one "grandfather tree" that three of us together could not reach all the way around.

Most of the older houses in our (admittedly extremely low) price range were in terrible condition, actually almost everything in our price point was downright hideous and in need of some major work, but we pretty much refused to even consider the 1980s split-levels/raised ranches that dominated our options. We did put an offer on a 1970s ranch because it was pretty solidly constructed and could have been workable with some updating, but more importantly it was on two acres of land close enough to downtown to be on the natural gas, water and sewer lines, which is almost unheard-of. We would have eventually (like 20 years in the future) built a "new old house" behind the ranch and offered the front house to anyone who would move it for a pittance. The land itself was worth as much as if not more than the asking price; we are pretty sure developers bought it, since you could tear down the front house and put up six to eight "starter castles", or the same number of townhouse-style duplexes (or condexes, which are the big thing up here lately), on those two acres.

We looked at a couple of new construction options and decided we just didn't want to go there. For one thing both were in HOAs - we have tangled with one HOA and swore never, ever again were we going to give someone else that level of control over what we can do with our own property. For another thing, to get ANY "character" at all we would have been looking at spending a good 50% extra (the base model was really pretty cheesetastic), which was 50% more than we could afford. I'm sure if we had plenty of money to spend we could get plenty of detail and character, but I didn't want to be stuck living in something with about as much architectural interest as a shoe box for years while we came up with the money to basically finish the job. Some people can do that, I can't.

Our current house is a tract-type Cape built in 1994 and our previous house (rented) was a "subdivision special" pseudocontemporary of about the same vintage. Both were in our opinions about as soulless and dull as you can get, and even though both come in well under 2000sf both had/have a distinct "McMansiony", chintzy, cookie-cutter feel. I did learn to listen to the Cape, but I'm looking forward to listening to the new house as it tells me how it wants its cosmetic restoration to go. I have a feeling she (it's definitely a she) will be rather opinionated.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 12:17AM
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Oh johnmari that sounds like exactly the house I'd LOVE. I want a front porch so bad I can't stand it and I don't really want big, I just want character! We do have hardwood floors and "ok" windows, but that's about it. I want a house that's 100 years old, at least. I'd really love to have a foursquare or a victorian but the chances of that are almost nil, even around here where the housing prices are still reasonable...or at least fair. I'm glad this question has prompted so many responses.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 11:39AM
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"Our little old house sighs and groans and creaks but I'm hard of hearing so I miss most of the theatrics."

ROTFL littledog - I was drinking a cup of coffee and just about had it coming out of my nose after I read your response ;o)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 4:11PM
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our current home (which was our 1st home purchase) was built in 1940. a very small cape style. then, in the early 70's they built an addition onto it. the addition resembles a narrow, colonial style. yes, its quite quirky.

and frankly, that's what i love most about it. i love that my house has a history. our town was mainly apple orchards 80+ years ago. and the old timers (townie's) have told me on more than one occassion that my little lakeside neigborhood was nothin' but bootleggers and prostitute's back in the day (prohibition and all that). its far from that now but its brings a smile to my face when i think about the wild times our lake has probably seen in its life.

sure, we find windows buried in walls where there shouldn't be windows. and not a one wall in our house is square. sure, the garage floods if we get a good rain and the floors vibrate when the washing machine hits the spin cycle. our home is definitely rough around the edges and needs alot of TLC. but its got personality, dang it.

so obviously, i'm partial to older homes.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 12:59PM
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Older homes hands down. Too many Mc's around here. Most people live in them a couple of months a year, the rest of the time they are empty, sitting on a piece of property, all house no land. Can you imagine the electric bill for heating and cooling? Also, how hard it would be to keep it clean? DH and I live in a tiny 630 sq. ft cottage, and if we ever do move, it would be to another cottage type home, around 1200 sq. ft. or so. We could use a little more space for all of our books and wall space for collected artwork. : -) Older homes have character and charm, plenty of quirks too. We are all different though and some choose to live in Mc's that's there privilege, just not our choice. Our little cottage was built around 1950. We have put in double paned windows, laminate flooring, and are re-insulating the attic with 9" insulation between attic floor and ceiling, and then putting 3/4" foamboard insulation in between rafters on the roofside. That ought to make it much more energy efficient when we are finished. We have been enjoying the little remodeling projects that we've done, enclosing the small front porch and opening up the utility room to the kitchen. We are on 1/4 acre, have gardens and outbuildings. We live in the burbs, that used to be cow pastures, not any more. It's turning into wall-to-wall people, during the season the roads are over congested with traffic from up north. We are working on making our little compound our 'haven' from the hectic world that we live in.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 1:11PM
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Older homes, for sure. Although they sure can be a PITA sometimes. :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 1:53AM
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We wanted an older home with charm, but couldn't afford one that was large enough and didn't want to have to deal with the constant maintenance issues. So we opted to build a house with character and charm with modern day efficiency and energy saving ameneties. It is built with the Southern Acadian feel. Here's a photo. Of course it's not finished.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 4:26PM
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Lots of McMansioning going on where I live. People buy a modest, older beach house, and tear it down. Then they build a giant stucco monstrosity with balconies hanging out all over and no open land left for more than a couple of small gardens, and maybe a postage stamp lawn. Too bad, we're right by the ocean, open space is beautiful and gives you a chance to enjoy your surroundings. However, I do understand that when a lot costs you a few hundred thousand, the best economic return from a property here comes from covering it with house.



    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 8:41PM
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Oh --- Brutuses ...... Your home is beautiful . Not many people will spend the extra money for energy effiency ... do you think it will pay off for you ? Have you figured out how much money it will save you per year ? Are the surrounding houses old fashioned - or like yours ? I was always thinking of doing stuff like you did ... But I didn't think it would pay off . Are you expecting to save money ? ( I'm sooo happy for you if you found the way !) I wish I could afford one ... I wish you the best of luck !!!!v ( BE sure to invite me out there ! LOL )

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 11:32PM
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Brutuses ~ I love your home. It has a wonderful feel and I'd love to see more inside and out. Love your front porch too.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 2:04PM
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It stuns me that where you live it is cheaper to custom build than to buy an existing home. It is so totally the other way around where I live (SE NH) - it is nightmarishly expensive to build even in a cookiecutter subdivision where it's "cheaper by the dozen", forget custom building. That's pretty much only for rich people here, or maybe people who've inherited a buildable lot and can DIY pretty much everything (and have the time to do so).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 7:46PM
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Love your home!

We recently made the decision to sell our 'too big, new house' and renovate a 1930s Tutor. Everyone we know thinks we are crazy (me too some days LOL) but I honestly have never felt comfortable living in a 'fancy' home. Hubby likes new and fancy, and got to pick the first house. I like character and uniqueness, so this house was my choice. We are doing almost all the renovations ourselves, so I hope it continues to be a labor of love =)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 11:13PM
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Just to be a nitpicky pain in the patoot ;-) it's a Tudor, not a Tutor. :-) :-) You are one lucky duck - I adore that style.

Closing in 3 hours on my "new baby"! Yeep!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 12:07PM
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brutuses- That's exactly the kind of thing I want to do when I build on our land! That front porch is so inviting! Can't wait to see more pics....

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 7:35AM
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dtinbna, to me its just HOME.

Enjoy your home it old or new, theres someone out there that would give anything to be in our shoes. (regardless if even THEY are old or new)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Thanks everyone for your lovely compliments of my house. It's slow going for us so photo's of a finished or near finished inside will be some time in coming, end of this year. Since we are paying as we build, we won't be in the house till end of 08. We could rush it, but we don't want to move at the height of hurricane season or in the miserable hot summer. When I do get some photo's of the inside with something like sheetrock on the walls (ha), I'll post them.

We haven't figured out how much we'll save in energy with all the new energy efficient extras, but we know it will be substantial.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:05PM
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toomuchclass, you asked about the other homes on our street and in our neighborhood. We have quite a mix of architecture on our street. It's an old subdivision and some of the houses sit on 1/2 acre of land and have been there a lot of years. They are designed like ours in the old fashion Acadian style, but are about 4 times as large. LOL Some look like mini plantations. Just a few blocks away are a few full size plantation homes. The town we are moving too is close to the Mississippi river and the River Rd. as it's called is lined with some plantations from the 1800's. One of the most famous is just 1/2 mile from our house. It's a tourist attraction now.

Then we have some newer homes that look like they belong in California, huge 2 story adobe's with palm trees lining the circular drive. Then we have the average 1 story ranch style. We even have a couple of gingerbread victorian styles. We are on the main street of the subdivision and some of the lots are quite large so that gives people the option of building really big if they want to.

So it's quite a mix. I believe our house is most probably the smallest one though. There is a minimum sq. ft. required by the subdivisions covenant and we went with the minimum because we didn't want a huge house for the 2 of us. Just more to heat, cool and keep clean.

There is no other that looks exactly like ours and I guess that's why people stop to compliment us on the style. Everyone comments on our unique roof. Today the young folks aren't looking to build this style of house so it's pretty unique to see one like it coming up in the subdivision. All the ones coming up are large California style houses/mansions.

The house just next door to ours is a 2 story brick. I'm not even sure of the style, it's just a plain 2 story house. Directly across the street from us is a huge mansion of 2 stories with beautiful gardens that circle the entire property. Houses like that one surely won't hurt my property value. HA! HA! It's such a lovely scene to walk out my front door and see that house. Nothing like what I have to look at right now. Not pretty at all!!! An abandoned house, a victim of Katrina and no insurance.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:30PM
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Uh.....neither. Don't like older homes; too many issues in the ones I've been in. Don't like McMansions. Newer, modern (architecture), smaller homes, please.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 1:18PM
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My preference isn't so much the age of the house as the age of the neighborhood. I can't imagine living in a new development. I live in a small town where most of the houses were built between 1906 - 1940. There are quite a few older residents, generations of familes, as well as young newcomers (though it is tough for them to get into the market.) The average length of residence in our town is 26 years (when I read that most people move every 3-5 years, that's pretty amazing.) It's hard for me to imagine living in a new development with no sense of history or tradition.

My old house is okay, but I sure could tell the PO's a thing or two! We've been working to uncover the character of our older house - buried under cruddy panelling, cheap carpeting, layers of vinyl, etc....

I'd be perfectly happy in a new house - as long as I could design it and it could reside on our same lot. (am I the only one who fantasizes about their house burning down and having to start over?)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 6:07PM
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> (am I the only one who fantasizes about their house burning
> down and having to start over?)


    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 1:57AM
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I don't own a home but when I do get ready to go down that road I wouldn't want an old home or a mc mansion assuming that means the homes you see in developments nowadays.

I would prefer to build from the ground up with my own design. This way I get the floor plan that works for me and a home with the styles and character that I like. If you buy old or new prebuilt then there will always be something about the house you don't like or wish it had but if you design your own you get what you want how you want it.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 3:33AM
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If you buy old...then there will always be something about the house you don't like or wish it had...

Not necessarily. We bought old and like our design just fine. Decorating is a different story, but the design is a-ok by us.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 5:47AM
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Our cottage was built in 1940 and had absolutely no character - really honestly, none at all - and was thrown together as cheaply as possible. This is a fact, since our BIL owns the developer's house 1/4 mile away and the guy's own house was an even worse nightmare than ours!

Fortunately we gutted it and turned this little 3bd 2ba with its illegal basement apartment into a 2bd 2ba cottage with big master suite, open living plan and cathedral ceilings.

Much as the charm of older houses enchants me, I like coming home to double pane windows, grounded outlets every 5 ft; and the ability to flush both toilets in the house, run the DW, wash the laundry - all at the same time - and not make the person showering scream aloud when the water pressure/hot water disappears!

I also really appreciate having 325 watts of good lighting in my updated kitchen with 30 ft of counterspace, not to mention that killer view out a massive bank of picture windows.

Our RE agent, whom we invited over in 2003 for an updated appraisal of what remodeling we had and what we had left to do, said that although we had no traditional "cottage" charm, the redesign to a more contemporary look and style (complete with a ton of storage areas) was a worthwhile investment, as long as we kept everything consistent.

I think she was correct. More than anything else, what is jarring when we visit open homes in our urban, mixed-style neighborhood, is people who have done erratic or incomplete updating on their homes.

As we age, I would kill for a level-in ranch home. That 1950/60 style can be so beautifully updated for today's living spaces and the lack of stairs is exactly what we will need.

There are very few ranch homes in the SF Bay Area proper. We are hoping to someday sell our cottage and find one we can remodel for accessible/universal design.

I envision as we get older I will want much less garden space than we have now. It's a year-round job to keep up with it and not something that can be done by anyone aged or disabled. A large house on a smaller lot would not bother me, in that case.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 1:52PM
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