Friday, August 17, 2012

Before Buying An Old House

This is a copy of the page from my blog Debt Free Decorating (which is now closed):

Don't buy an old house if...
  • want to save a lot of money. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...yeah, that's not going to happen. We bought our home for around 50K under market value, so we're doing fine, but we never thought the upkeep would be so frequent. If I had wanted a new house (which I didn't), we could've paid 50K more and been about even! This was an eye-opener for me. We do 90% of the work with our own hands and it still costs us a lot in repairs and maintenance. My hope is that this will eventually slow down and we can get a little ahead. But...not holding my breath.
  • want your house to look like everyone elses. Old houses have a TON of character, but some people don't really want that. If you want the Great Room of modern homes and the walk in closets, then carefully consider the costs that would be added to change the house. You could potentially buy a new one for close to the same as remodeling and sometimes less.
  • have tons of clothes. Closets are quite a bit smaller and sometimes non-existent in older homes. We scored big time in this house, at least in the kid's rooms; they are huge and have built-in dressers. My closet, however, is tiny. I'm talking one 4ft. rod and one shelf right above it. If you're not willing to pare down your wardrobe dramatically, than make sure the house has additional storage that you can designate for off-season clothes, etc.
  • are afraid of little critters. We've lived here for two years and have experienced and dealt with mice, rats, possums, water bugs (huge roaches), and raccoons. (This is the kind of unexpected cost that you can plan for).
  • already own small/large furniture. Houses, rooms, and patios were not the same 'normal' as today. Some are extremely small and some are surprisingly large. I went from an 1100 sq ft. townhouse where the queen size bed looked squeezed in to a 3ooo sq ft. house that has a master bedroom to die for. But now the bed looks tiny and off in the room. Luckily, almost all of are furniture was hand-me-down, so we lost nothing on the furniture that we donated. Also, since we knew the previous owner, some furniture was left and filled in a lot of the spaces that would have been empty.
  • are sensitive to temperature. We have two air conditioners (expensive, yes), and if we turn it up enough to be completely comfy, our bill would eat us in one swift gulp. Same in the winter. When I stand at my kitchen sink I can feel a cold draft coming in. Same goes for all three glass doors, the back door, the master bathroom, and the breakfast room windows--just to name the most obvious. I may be weird, but I've sorta fallen in love with this house quirk. I love having to snuggle up under layers of blankets, walk around in toasty slippers, and savor a steaming cup of coffee. However, I don't like having to put winter hats on the kids indoors. We live in Houston, so this only happens for a couple of weeks a year.
  • hate cleaning. I mean, I enjoy cleaning when I'm in the mood, but this is insane! I have lived here for two years and STILL haven't cleaned every nook and cranny. And why is it that old houses seem to collect dust like a magnet picks up paperclips?
[Update: As much charm as this old house has, we actually decided that we had changed. We used to be the kind of people who had the time and energy to put into an old home, and now we're not. Josh works too many hours, my children are getting to harder grades in homeschooling, and on top of all that we now have a baby. Our lives changed, and the charm of a new house just didn't have the same pull as the ease of a new house anymore.]
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