Buy New, Vintage or Victorian Home?

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by PrettySquareGal, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,978
    Location:
    New England
    If money is an issue, would you trust a well kept Victorian over a new home? What about a 1950's home? Assume they are all the same price. I'd love to hear people's experiences and thoughts on this.
     
  2. Vladimir Berkov

    Vladimir Berkov One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,291
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Definately the Victorian house. Postwar construction has some real issues, particularly early postwar houses.

    Probably the best of both worlds would be a well-restored Victorian house, where the electrical, water, sewage and heating systems have been completely gone over and updated.
     
  3. Haversack

    Haversack One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,009
    Location:
    Clipperton Island
    My preference, particularly if the systems were modern, would be for a house from between 1910 and 1940. By then, many of the Craftsman-based design features which make life comfortable had made it into standard practice. Features such as closets, built-in furniture, fireplaces one could cozy up to, etc. Also the variety of the various period revivals is personally pleasing and the rooms still have good proportions. The quality of the materials and especially of the finish work was much better than what is commonly produced today. This also pretty much describes what I live in now.

    Haversack.
     
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I grew up in a postwar house -- 1949, to be exact. It was, to be blunt, a dump -- shoddy construction, poor fixtures, and not especially pleasant to look at. Since then I've lived in a Victorian-era tenement -- which was a lovely, solid building -- followed by two small working-class houses, one built in 1840 and the other, my current place, built in 1911. All of these places far surpass my childhood home.

    I've never lived in a new house -- actually, I don't think I've ever even been *in* a new house. But I dont trust anything with hollow-core doors.
     
  5. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,248
    Location:
    Small Town Ohio, USA
    Older homes - even well-kept - are no end of WORK.
     
  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,677
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    My 1920's apartment building here in downtown Gold Coast Chicago
    has gone condo{surprise} and the management has kindly informed
    me that even though I've been a great tenant, my lease; which expires in
    sixty days, will not be renewed, sorry. So I've been considering buying
    a house. Maybe a brick 1920s Chicago bungalow that I could fix-up with
    a large backyard and brick barbecue pit. Try to break free of the downtown
    bachelor lifestyle.... :eek:
     
  7. feltfan

    feltfan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,174
    Location:
    Oakland, CA, USA
    All houses are no end of work.
    But older houses don't need to be worse
    than new ones. My house was built in 1908.
    It was run down when I bought it. I put in work
    up front: new foundation (California), electrical,
    plumbing, furnace, etc.

    Now I have a 1908 home that works great.

    A lot of new homes around here require a lot
    more maintenance. They are made of poor quality
    materials and put up in a hurry. One neighbor in a
    new condo has a door that is rotting away and water
    comes in under it in a storm. His car was stranded in the
    garage while they ripped out his driveway to replace the
    faulty gas line.

    I supervised and selected all the work done on my house
    and the individuals who did it. My house is framed largely
    in first growth redwood (for better or worse) that shows
    no water or termite damage.

    Point is, it's not the age of the house, it's lots of factors.
    New houses are criminally ugly and I hope never to live in one.
     
  8. Les Gillis

    Les Gillis One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    Warning: This May Ramble...

    I've been in new home sales for quite some time.

    Buying a new home you do stand a greater chance of having less to worry about. Most builders have warranties. If you're buying a new home and they don't offer a warranty then you should be careful.

    A great deal of it also depends on who the actual builder was. By builder (AKA construction superintendents) I mean the guy that has the blue print and over sees all the sub contractors and makes sure the work gets done. You can give the same plans to two different construction superintendents and you'll get two different products. Houses aren't perfect because they were built by humans and humans aren't perfect. Any house can be picked apart to find flaws.

    Location can also make a difference. There are newer and new homes build by small builders or individuals in rural areas that may or may not comply with standard building code. Municipalities will have building inspectors that check out a new home at every step of the way. Things can slip passed them every once in a while.

    The methods for building foundations have improved. An engineered slab (post tension stressed) is a better design than your typical reinforced concrete foundation. That's the sales pitch any way. I still like pier and beam.

    "Prefab" isn't always a bad word. We (like a lot of other volume builders) manufacture roof trusses and wall systems off site and have them delivered to the build site. That means they are built in more of a controlled environment to exacting standards. . You don't have the sub contractors brother-in-law's drinking buddy helping out that day slapping your frame work together. We don't have one truss design that works on all 25 house designs we offer in one community. This isn't a new idea; back in the old days Sears sold houses and they shipped them out by train.

    New homes are like new cars there's Yugos and Lexus when it comes to houses as well. "Entry Level" to "High End Custom." Would you rather a a 1920s Mercedes or a 1970s Pinto?

    My preference would be to have a 1920s Tudor style home build to high end standards and the builder superintendent would be a guy named Kent that I used to work with.

    You can spend a ton of cash on a new home and still not get the charm and feel of an older home. On the other hand if you want something that you're not going to have to work on or spend tons of money updating the HVAC system and insulating the walls and ceiling, replacing the plumbing and electrical then buy new. You can also pick out all the colors from the bricks to the tile grout.

    At the end of the day Scotrace is right older houses will take more up keep and maintenance.

    But that's just my 2.5 cents...

    Also remember with buying a "vintage home" you may also find "vintage toe nails" in the carpet...did I share too much?

    This being said I just made an offer on a house built in 1910.....
     
  9. Daisy Buchanan

    Daisy Buchanan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,332
    Location:
    BOSTON! LETS GO PATRIOTS!!!
    I own a condo that was built in the late 80's and it has been a constant stream of problems. It is a lovely unit, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, jacuzzi tubs in each of the full baths, fireplace in the living room and master bedroom, it's in a luxury building. But, the condo fees are astronomical, I have to have my heat pump replaced and since I live in the city this will involve a crane and a police detail, I've already replaced the wood floors on the first floor and have to replace the floors in the upstairs bedrooms but this is such a huge project and involves moving a lot of heavy furniture so I've been procrastinating.We just had a 1.9 million dollar assessment on the building, which falls on the owners. The exterior of the building needs to be re-waterproofed!! Yeah, that's never a good sign. Lucky for me, I don't have any leaks.
    So, when I do buy my next place I would love an old brick colonial or victorian. I do plan on keeping this unit for a long time, when I finally do move on I will rent it out. So, I see it as an investment. Every time I put something new into it, the price goes up a bit. It's spacious, has a roofdeck, a pool and a raquetball court (built in the 80's, what can I say). I have two garage parking spaces, which are really hard to come by in my neighborhood. I love my condo, but my family and friends have nick named it "the money pit"!!
    I do dream of a big old colonial, but I know that they too have their problems. I think that all the condo's and houses in the Boston area need up-dating!
     
  10. Daisy Buchanan

    Daisy Buchanan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,332
    Location:
    BOSTON! LETS GO PATRIOTS!!!
    It's so funny that you say that about hollow core doors. My dad and my late Uncle Stephen had a small investment company while I was growing up. They owned a few apartment buildings and "triple deckers" to make a little money on the side. I remember when I was a kid going to look at said apartment buildings and houses with them, I must admit I love to go "house hunting". Anyway, when I read your statement about hollow-core doors, I pictured my Dad and Uncle Stephen walking through these properties and knocking on all the doors to make sure that they were solid. Thanks for bringing back a fun childhood memory for me:)
     
  11. Martina

    Martina One of the Regulars

    Hey a New Englander! I was born and raised in New Hampshire!
    Anyway...
    I own an old converted farmhouse and we LOVE it! Lots of neat things that you get in the older Victorians too that you don't get in the 50s and newer homes. Lots of nooks and crannies in older houses! Hardwoods too!
    And if it's a New England victorian, I bet it's stunning!

    I would be sure to have a professional run through and check the
    Plumbing, Electric, Heating System, Windows and Roof especially!
    I just passed owning this home for 10 years and we just HAD to put on a new roof, due to the Niagara Falls effect of running water THROUGH our second floor, from our roof. Boy was that costly!
    Even if things have been newly replaced have the professional make sure they are quality. This house had all NEW windows when I bought it and every year we end up putting plastic up over the outsides to keep the wind out!

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck! If it's yours, you'll love it. Headaches and all!
     
  12. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,978
    Location:
    New England
    Thanks all. It's 3:00 a.m. and I'm up thinking about houses! How nice to have some reading. :)
     
  13. Elaina

    Elaina One Too Many

    I've lived in all three.

    I rented the attic in a lovely Victorian home that while remodeled, needed central heat and air, but I will say I had PLENTY of room. I also rented one a while ago, and loved the space. When my husband and I buy up, this will be what we will probably get, barring other odd things about me not going haywire.

    My ex and I had a depression era house, circa 1932 that was solid, but so unkempt it was a HUGE mess all the time. While small for that time, it did use the room it had exceedingly well.

    My current husband and I lived in a 1950's house in Washington, and well, it sucked. Aside from the fact he's tall and hit his head everywhere, it was just icky. Cramped and not pleasing on the eye.

    My folks built a house. It didn't hold up to anything very well. If I ever win the lottery, there is a new home I would snatch up in an instant, lovely construction...the man made it worth it's discounted price of 2.8 million.

    I've also lived on a plantation for a time that was built in the 1820's. Probably my favorite of all the houses.

    We live in a 1974 tract house now. It's about as small as the one in WA, but hey, I own this one. We have ALOT of problems (which is why it was cheaper then dirt) but hey, I own this one.

    In the end, I don't have much of a prefrence, other then owning it and having space to make my husband go away. And enough space I can have my own room. Right now, if we have another kid, we're going to have to move up anyway. 2 bedrooms aren't fun.
     
  14. PrettySquareGal

    PrettySquareGal My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,978
    Location:
    New England
    In the Portland, Maine area the housing market went crazy over the last seven years. We are currently renting and hoping to buy but I bristle at the prices being asked for run down 1940's tiny capes and ranches with postage stamp yards. These same houses were sold for literally half the price before everything went up, and they are worth maybe a quarter of that! I also think of a home as an investment and I can't see buying a fixer upper 40's home paying off for us. Most of the newer homes are out of our price range and honestly I think not worth the asking price.

    The more I think about it, I can see a well maintained Victorian being a better investment if we must buy old. I of course LOVE them! They are wonderfully romantic and creaky and full of history and charm and nooks and crannies as someone pointed out. :)
     
  15. cookie

    cookie I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,916
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Renovate or Detonate?

    Having done a couple of Australian Edwardian c.1918 type homes up I agree it is a good idea especially with yard size issues. Then of course when everyone starts doing them up the neighbourhood goes up. Look at Spitalfields in London where these 18th c squats now cost millions when they were only saved due to a Coservation Trust. Now the people in the area cannot afford to live there themselves. In the USA the California bungalows and 20s Mission houses are good value as well. I think you should go for it.
     
  16. Miss Sis

    Miss Sis One Too Many

    Here in England prices are just stupid no matter what you are looking at buying. In London a One bedroom appartment can easy cost £200K.

    A friend of ours in the building trade said that any house generally from Victorian to WW2 in England the building gets better and better, but never to buy a Post War house as they became very shoddy.

    I would personally be happy with anything in reasonable condition from around 1900 - 1939. The style I like has good use of space, quaility materials and labour. Although I love some of the modernist 30s houses, my boyfriend doesn't think he'd like to live in one. Things like Bauhaus, I see what he means. I wouldn't like that - too clinical.

    A house should feel like home.
     
  17. RetroModelSari

    RetroModelSari Practically Family

    Messages:
    863
    Location:
    Duesseldorf/Germany
    I´d love to live in a pretty Jugendstilhouse. The chances aren´t even that low since many of those still exist in the cities.

    [​IMG]

    :rolleyes:
     
  18. Johnnysan

    Johnnysan One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,170
    Location:
    Central Illinois
    Truer words were never spoken. My wife and I purchased our first home in 1994 - a Victorian built in 1886. We're still there, but can't wait to move. You simply can't stop the ravages of time and there is always something that needs to be repaired or replaced. If you want a crash course in home maintenance or the law of diminishing returns, then definitely buy an older home. :eusa_doh:
     
  19. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,437
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I've lived for 11 years in a house built in 1910, and I haven't had to make a lot of repairs to it. On the contrary, it's newer houses that I hear have a lot of problems. Around here, one problem is a lot of new homes are built on bentonite, which is a little like building a house on sand. My little bungalow, on the other hand, is built on solid ground and has survived, without a bit of damage, two blizzards that dumped three feet of snow (one in 1913, the other in 2003).

    I would have a really good building inspector look a any house I was buying.
     

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