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For the Love of Old Houses

One day, you will thank me. I am going to talk you down off the ledge. Right now, you may have starry eyes and imagine a dream-come-true country manor home with horses and dogs, or an in-town, Historic townhouse ready for your renovation. With just a few finishing touches and the right decor, all will be well and your restoration will be hailed throughout the neighborhood, if not the region.

Instead, you may have leaky pipes, no heat or air-conditioning and a kitchen or bathroom approaching the most primitive. The huge acreage will require farm machinery, the lack of electricity or insufficient voltage or current issues could call for updating or generators, dealing with historic, lead-based paint might make you loopy, and yes, there might be snakes living in the basement or even in the rooftop rafters.

Acts of nature such as rising water tables, lightning strikes or hurricanes, combined with acts of the occult such as ghosts and you have big-time problems.  Can you say “money pit” or “house exorcism”?

The brick needs to be repointed, the windows scraped, primed and painted. Keep in mind that wavy, historic glass panes are hard to replicate and doors from 250 years ago cannot be bought off the shelf at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

If you’ve gotten the deal of a lifetime in terms of price, the old house is likely located in the middle of nowhere. Hard to find handymen there, difficult to buy hardware supplies, challenging to set up any kind of security system when there’s only one way in and one way out of the property which is down a dusty, two-mile driveway. Historic homes are often far from gainful employment and Farther still from decent schools; you need to decide if this matters in your situation.

Similar to sin, an old house will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. Don’t do it unless you are loaded with time and money. And even then, prepare for days, weeks, and months to disappear from your life along with beaucoup bucks. You might gain some serious backaches.

But still, those clawfoot tubs, hardwood floors and ancient ice boxes are calling out to you.

I know, they have me on speed dial, as well.


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For the Love of Old Houses


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