Questions About Buying an Old House to Live in? - Posted by Susan

Posted by michaela-ATL on June 19, 2003 at 15:17:57:

things like: electrical, plumbing, roof, central heat and Air.


Questions About Buying an Old House to Live in? - Posted by Susan

Posted by Susan on June 18, 2003 at 05:38:35:

What is the oldest age of a single family house that is considered worth buying? I don’t know anything about real estate but I assume a house that is over thirty years old can be a risk and might need repairing often? Could there be any advantages to buying an old house (over thirty years old)? When buying an old house what do I need to be vigilent about to make sure I’m getting my monies worth? Do I need to tell the inspector to take extra care when inspecting the property because it is old? I have heard that some old houses are built with wiring that is outdated (copper wires) or something to that nature. What else can be outdated in an old house? I don’t mean to come across as paranoid with all of these questions, I just don’t want to make any mistakes. I am thinking of purchasing a house in Stratford, CT but I notice that most of the houses in the area were built many many many years ago but there exteriors are nice. The houses I have seen were built in 1917, 1920, 1941, and 1950. Should I let the age of a house stop me from purchasing it to live in?

Re: Questions About Buying - Posted by frankCA

Posted by frankCA on June 18, 2003 at 12:13:08:

HI Susan

I bought a 54 year old house to live in and fix up. My area is the great central valley of California. Best decision I ever made. It has building materials you can’t buy today because they are not made.(3 ½" X 5 ½" floor joists). Workmanship that is better than the new tract houses today. Go for it and enjoy!

Old House to Live in? - Posted by michaela-ATL

Posted by michaela-ATL on June 18, 2003 at 09:48:12:


I specialize in renovating victorians, so I’m partial to them ;-). Yes, they do require more funds to renovate, but there’s nothing like the drama of all the fireplaces, high ceilings, hardwood floors, huge rooms etc.

You also have to look at the neighborhood. If it’s a neighborhood with 1900 houses and you buy a new construction you may have a hard time selling later on. If you’re buying a brick ranch in a neighborhood of frame victorians you might have a hard time to sell.

Make sure, that all the major systems have been replaced. If not, have the seller do it, built into the price. Or, if you get a good enough deal figure replacing all those things right away. The insurance agencies have been very picky and will drop you, if certain things havent’ been done.

Don’t let the age of a house scare you. You could have more problems with a new house - you never know.


Questions About Buying an Old House to Live in? - Posted by GL - ON

Posted by GL - ON on June 18, 2003 at 08:13:19:

A lot depends where you live. In the north (where I live) a 20 year old house is considered “modern” and a house built in the 1850 - 1900 period is common.

In the South any house over 5 years old seems to be considered “old”.

Possibly houses deteriorate faster in hot climates.

Personally I live in a house built in 1880 and it doesn’t worry me a bit. But in your case I think you should buy something more modern.

The old houses require periodic major repairs and updating, like new wiring plumbing shingles etc. if they are to be kept in service. If this has been done the old house may be as good as new, but will still require regular maintenance.

Any house will require maintenance, even a brand new house will start to require little things. But the older a house gets the more they need and the bigger the bills are.

In your particular case I would suggest buying the newest house you can, a brand new one if possible. But if you do buy a new one pick a reputable builder even iif it costs more money, there are a lot of chiselers out there.

Otherwise have a building inspector give the house a thorough going over. If he finds faults it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy the house, if they are minor faults you can use them as bargaining points to negotiate a better deal, and then have them fixed.

Don’t Worry - Posted by Dan in PA

Posted by Dan in PA on June 18, 2003 at 07:18:17:

Don’t let the age of a home stop you from purchasing it. My first home was built in 1950 and I just moved and purchased a home built in 1900. In general, they will probably require more upkeep, but I think older homes offer a lot more character than newer homes.

Some old houses may have outdated items, such as the electrical system, so it may be an item that could use some money invested into it. Our previous home had a 60 amp electrical service (normal is 200 today), but we decided to live with it and never had a problem. Nor was it an issue when we sold it.

As for the inspection, inspectors look for the same things no matter what the age of the house is. You don’t need to tell them to be extra careful. Just go to the inspection with them and ask questions about things you aren’t certain of.

We are excited about our “new” 1900 house and have a lot of plans for it. I think it is a good investment and I have no concerns about the future sale of it.

Hope this helps.


Re: Old House to Live in? - Posted by Susan

Posted by Susan on June 18, 2003 at 16:51:37:


What do you mean by making sure all the major systems have been changed? I don’t know much about homes so what are considered the major systems? Thanks.

They don’t build’em like they used to! - Posted by Kristy-AZ

Posted by Kristy-AZ on June 18, 2003 at 12:13:20:

I would love to own an older home built in the early 1900’s. Sure they need updating, but they were built so much better back then.
Here in AZ, they are building new houses all the time! The houses are built from 2x4’s, styrofoam, chicken wire and stucco. Wowee! Any strong man that gets an attitude could put his fist right through the wall and penetrate the outside. So many people get all jazzed about buying a brand new home here, not realizing that the older homes, built out of block or brick are better built and better insulated.

We moved from a 1979 block house into a Brand new house, I wasn’t real thrilled about the construction of the new house, but there were other incentives that allowed me to agree. (bigger house, less money, school, location) My husband watched the new house being built and couldn’t believe that we were paying that much money for a “chicken coop”. All I could say is “I told you so”.