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.]


  1. There are a lot of factors to consider when buying an old house. One good factor I found is that you should first check the sturdiness of the house. It would be advisable to inspect all parts of the house, especially the foundation. So inspecting it first can save you not only time, but also money as repairing it can sometime cost more than buying a new one.

  2. I think Katy is right. There are a lot of variables that come into play when you are buying an old property and house. Old houses give that vintage feel and classic vibe that is appealing to some would-be house owners. But I do believe that they are properly maintained and need a minimum repairs and revamps. You just need to have a good eye to spot these properties on the market.

  3. I agree with both of you! I actually wrote this at a time when we were in the midst of some very stressful repairs--mice and racoons in attic, sheetrock drooping in three of our rooms, and plumbing issues that were undescribably stressful. We've since fixed all of these problems but we kind of fell out of love with our house through all of this. We discovered that we desired simplicity over character in a home. That's us. I now realize that if this house would have been fixed when we got here it would have worked out much better. Also, our friends all live near where we're moving, which is a number one on our list of why we're moving. I learned a lot about myself through this process. Thank you both for your comments. It's great to have balance. -Tabitha

  4. Your post is very light and amusing; I had no idea that you were in a stressful situation when you were writing this! About the topic, what’s hard about buying a house is you have to consider a lot (and I mean A LOT) of factors before coming to a decision. Aside from the “guidelines” you posted, money is a huge issue as well. ^_^

    1. Thank you, Lora. I'm glad to know my stressful attitude didnt show through too much. As much stress as this house has caused us, there are certain things that I'm going to miss terribly (like the enormous back yard with the full grown trees). I love this house, but I don't like the stress it's added to our family. We're at a point in our lives were we need everything to just work, lol. -Tabitha


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