December 2018 Blog

Ring out the old and ring in the new? The choice is up to you!

I thought to myself, “I am so lucky to live in a town with such stunning architecture.” And, of course, I’m even luckier that I own one of those homes. However, owning an old house can be a little more complicated than seasonal decorating and a few throw pillows.

If you are in the market for a home and choosing between new construction or an older home, here are some key factors to take into consideration.

This old house? Or that new construction?

Some people are just meant to live in an old house…no two are alike.  High ceilings, ornate crown moldings, vintage lighting fixtures and charming staircases… the charm, character and grace of an old home are incomparable.   Yes, you might have “closet envy”, yet there are ways to work around the lack of closet  space.

Unfortunately, lurking around those curving staircases and ceiling fixtures could be headaches that might be costly to fix.  Personally, my home is still lathe and plaster and cracks seem to appear whenever I think I’ve fixed them all.   But, I love each and every room and will do whatever I must do to mend them.

There are some things you might consider before you decide on an old(er) versus new(er) house.

Mold and mildew

All homes can be a hotbed of moisture, leaks and the resulting mold and mildew that wreaks havoc on your home and your health. Basements and attics are the most obvious places to look to be sure that your potential dream home is dry and leakproof.   If there is mold…there is always a cause for the mold and that means there is always a cure.   Once you have fixed the cause and taken care of the mold, you should be fine.    This situation can and does occur in both old and new homes.   It is just that the mold in older homes has gotten a head start.

When you go to the basement in the older home, pay attention to what you might smell. Is their mildew, it is damp.  Again, nothing to be afraid of, but you may want to determine and fix the cause.

In older homes you should look at windows, doors and ceilings.  Make sure there is no rot (from water or insects) around the window casings and doorways? Look for stains on the ceiling and get an explanation as to how they got there and….be sure the cause has been addressed.    Remember, old windows does not mean you have to get new windows.   There are ways to reinforce without buying new.

Baby, its cold outside….and inside too!

When considering purchasing an older home, make sure your home inspector looks carefully at beams, wood, joists etc.  How about the insulation? Are there drafts, is there enough insulation?  And, of course, take a careful look at the previous homeowners’ heating bills.  Although heating bills will vary if you keep the house at 85 degrees versus my 62 degrees, seeing the heating bills will provide you with an idea of costs.   Also, be sure to check that furnace and hot water heater.    If they are older, be sure they have, at the very least you know the age of the hot water heater and look for maintenance records for the boiler or furnace.  No one likes the “surprise” of needing a new furnace on a new home purchase.

Bugs, bats and beasties!

Of course, older homes can be warm and welcoming havens for unwanted housemates. But after all, they were probably there first, right?Unless you want to share your humble abode with winged, multi-legged critters, better make sure your home inspector doesn’t mind dark attics and tight crawlspaces.

It’s important to point out, however, that new homes are not without their own problems. And many of those problems can be the same as those old home woes. Choosing new construction is not automatic insurance against wet basements or bats in the belfry. Nature is attracted to new and old homes alike.

Regardless of whether you are going old or new, one of the most important things you can do is to hire a reputable home inspector – someone who will go above and beyond to get down and dirty, check those attics, basements, make sure the furnace and hot water heater, the roof, fireplace, windows and doors are in good working order. So, whether the halls you’re decking are old or new, be sure to consult with me for a purchase and if you do….I will not let you skimp on the inspection.

Wish you all a healthy and happy 2019!

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