- This topic has 16 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 11 months ago by JC.
March 28, 2012 at 11:34 AM #19647March 28, 2012 at 11:42 AM #740673UCGalParticipant
I have – but in another state. (Pennsylvania)
These are the issues I dealt with:
– furnace was older than I was. Solution: got a maintenance contract on it (oil furnace) and when things broke, they fixed it. When I sold 7 years later – it was still running, but with replaced blower, and burner.
– no insulation to speak of. I got quotes and it was on my to-do list. It was cheaper than it otherwise would have been because the turn of the century twin had balloon framing. But still not something I could just write a check for. Solution: save towards insulating it, and wear sweaters.
– inadequate electrical, including some old knob and tube. Solution – replace about 80% of the electrical and put in a new panel. Blow off entirely the electrician who gave me a quote about 3 times more than the others because I was a woman. (Seriously – this guy noticed my tools out and said they were “cute”.)
I have friends who own older bungalows in University Heights and in Kensington. They’ve upgraded the wiring. One had a really cool reflective coating put on their flat roof – which dropped the summer temps considerably. Both have tried to keep with the charm of the older houses – keeping the old tile in the bathroom, etc.March 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM #740679sdduuuudeParticipant
I know the walls can be plaster, which is a pain if you need to run electrical, hang paintings, etc.
Makes you appreciate drywall.March 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM #740717svelteParticipant
[quote=UCGal] Blow off entirely the electrician who gave me a quote about 3 times more than the others because I was a woman. (Seriously – this guy noticed my tools out and said they were “cute”.)[/quote]
Meh, some contractors will overcharge anyone they think is naive or desperate.
I had one company, that came recommended, come in and ask three times the other quotes I had received to put in new sheetrock in the kitchen. I think they thought they had me over a barrel and that my wife wanted it done pronto.
They even called back a few hours later to ask when they could start. They were shocked when I told them never.
The guy who did it for 1/3 their price did a flawless job too.March 28, 2012 at 7:45 PM #740729HatfieldParticipant
There was a bunch of live knob & tube in a rental unit that I finally got around to upgrading last year. Oddly enough the panel box had been replaced but not most of the wiring. Got two bids, one from a contractor I’d used for a bunch of small jobs previously, and one from someone who came highly recommended. The guy that was new to me came in with a more detailed bid that was less than half than the guy I knew. Go figure. I went with the new guy, and he did a great job with no “surprises.”
If it’s a smaller house or cottage, beware of in-floor furnaces. Nobody will touch these anymore, so when it dies you’re either looking at installing a wall heater or running ducts and going with forced air gas.
I love old casement windows, but they’re poorly insulated and not everyone knows how to work on ’em. Some guys will want to rip them out and replace with vinyl.
General upkeep is more expensive in an older house, so it’s really a question of priorities. I enjoy creaky floors, casement windows, the funky fixtures, and all the other charming things about an older house, but old plumbing and electrical suck.March 28, 2012 at 9:07 PM #740733
Thanks I will take note of these. I imagine I’ll have to take a close look at the foundation too. Also it’s been recommended to have someone take a video of the sewer pipe. I really like this area and it’s where I want to live, I’m just concerned about getting myself into a bottomless money pit.March 29, 2012 at 8:51 AM #740742sdsurferParticipant
[quote=ctr70]it’s been recommended to have someone take a video of the sewer pipe. I really like this area and it’s where I want to live[/quote]
HA! like a virtual tour of the sewer.March 29, 2012 at 8:54 AM #740743The-ShovelerParticipant
New or old they are all bottomless money pits.March 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM #740846XBoxBoyParticipant
For about 8 years I owned an old Spanish style house in Kensington. It was built in 1929, and was typical of the houses built in that era. My personal experience was that maintenance was no worse for this house. I did need to replace the roof on the back of the house. (The front had Spanish tiles but the back had tar which is very common in older houses. The tar needs repair/replacement about every 10-15 years)
The biggest issue I think is what kind of shape is the house in when you buy it. (Or what’s it gonna cost to put it into good shape) Once in good shape, they are as durable as any other house. Perhaps even more so.
One issue that may or may not be an issue is that most of these older houses are not secured to their foundations. As long as there isn’t a big earthquake it’s not a big deal.
Most of these older houses also don’t have much insulation. Not a big deal in San Diego, and you can easily get insulation blown into the attic.
Obviously if the appliances are old you can expect repairs for them, and if the plumbing is not up to date that can be a problem. Likewise, electrical might not be properly grounded. But your home inspector should be able to tell you about most of these. Then decide to either fix or live with it.
One last thing, not related to maintenance but important. Most of these homes have small closets and small baths. It was always okay for me, but you might need to think about where you’re going to store things. If people in your family have lots of clothes or stuff, then you’ll need to think about where you’re going to put it all.
Good luckMarch 30, 2012 at 2:39 PM #740851bearishgurlParticipant
Hire PARRA to inspect your purchase while in escrow. They’re longtime experts in your areas of choice.
I agree that condition of foundation (footers) is the most important consideration in these houses. In many cases, the outcome of a structural or soils engineering report should also be listed as a contingency in your offer to purchase.March 31, 2012 at 10:47 PM #740929patbParticipant
check the foundations, if those are bad walkaway.
check the roof forleaks, if it’s leaked, get a mold test, if it’s positive walk away.
check the insulation, it’s usually ridiculous, see if you can clean it out and blow new cellulose.
check for vermin, lots of them in old houses.
check fo rlead pipes, lead paint, asbestos, radium, radon.
check the roof, see if it’s good.
check the tuckpointing and chimney.
check the mechanicals, figure on a new HWH or Boiler.
check the electricals, figure its” a hundred bucks per new outlet or switch needed.April 5, 2012 at 11:59 AM #741159
Thanks everyone for the excellent replies and advice. I guess it’s a matter of getting a super thorough inspection and penciling out how much everything is going to cost to fix and see if it’s worth it to me vis-a-vis the purchase price.April 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM #741160
The other thing is unless a lot of these upgrades you have to put into it add to the market value of the property there isn’t a great return on your investment. It seems that roofs, plumbing, electrical, insulation, furnaces don’t give you that return ratio of getting $2 market value gain for every $1 invested. Where new kitchens, baths, paint, flooring, fixtures, can give you that $1=$2 gain.
I love the old houses and that area too, but I don’t love any piece of real estate enough to not get a decent return on my cash investment. That’s why it can be good to find a good deal on a short sale where the former owner sunk a ton of cash into it and did all these upgrades already.April 25, 2012 at 1:49 AM #742188AnonymousGuest
Hello, there! I rented a house in Kensington for more than 15 years and I have nothing bad to say of that time. The house was equipped with all conveniences and the neighborhood was pleasant and friendly. I can advice you without hesitation to think over this option!
Angelita Russel, more information on free ringtone makerApril 26, 2012 at 8:29 PM #742304mike92104Participant
If you’re lucky, you’ll find one with a solid foundation with the electrical and plumbing already upgraded.
If it has the original windows, make sure someone hasn’t painted the tracks. They’re supposed to be bare wood so they can expand and contract. Also check that the sash weights haven’t fallen. If it has replacement windows, check that they were done well and don’t leak.
The house we bought was built in 1940. I’m amazed at the craftsmanship. Every door in the house is perfectly square. Every angled cut is perfect. If we maintain it, it will last forever. We were lucky and found one that had the plumbing and electrical already done. It even has a 200 amp service!
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