Financially, the value of a home is considered good if it can produce a profit when sold. There seems to be no end of people who, fueled by those old house rehab shows, want an older home. If you are one of those people who really believe that they don’t build them like they used to, an old house may be for you.
However, before you make the decision to purchase an old home, arm yourself with information. Older homes usually mean the three major systems in a house, the electric, the plumbing, and the heating/air conditioning, are also old. Replacing or even just repairing these systems can be a large financial drain. Most older homes were not built with an eye toward energy efficiency, windows do not fit tightly, there is a lack of or zero insulation, or the layout of the house does not allow proper ventilation.
Many of the features that draw people to older home have their down side. Walls and ceilings made of lath and plaster, while strong, are difficult to patch, tough to hang simple pictures on, and messy when torn down. Original hardwood floors, while pretty to look at, are prone to squeaks, can be severely damaged over years of normal use, and are cold, especially in a drafty older home.
A big problem with the older homes comes from renovation house shows. There, in a mere sixty minutes, experts perform major renovations that would take the normal homeowner months to do. These shows give us all that extra misplaced confidence that we too can rehab the old barn into our dream home. It would be very convenient if we could just pause life, get the rehabbing done, and then get back to living. However, that is not how life works. When a person is rehabbing, normal life still goes on, he or she must also work his or her regular job just to afford materials, and there are those family obligations that just cannot be put on hold. The rehabbing becomes this overwhelming monster that sits on your back at work, at play, even in your dreams.
A contractor once told me that for work on an older house, figure three times the estimated cost and three times the estimated time to finish. For some of us who have lived through the older house rehabbing it really is more like five times the cost and seven times the hours estimated to get the job done.