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5 Reasons Why Owning a Historic Home Isn’t For the Faint of Heart

11 August 2015

A few years back, Twix had television commercials with the tagline “Chew it over with a Twix.”  The commercials always showcased guys getting backed into a corner by a female asking them a question that would get them in trouble if they responded truthfully to it. The Twix bar came to the rescue because the guy could wolf it down to buy himself extra time to answer the question.  While there are plenty of scenarios when politely lying is the correct thing to do, there’s also a number of times when honesty really is the best policy.  One of these is when considering whether you are a good candidate for owning a historical home.  While the thought of sipping hot cocoa in front of one the home’s fireplaces or catching up on your favorite novel while soaking in a claw foot tub can sound endearing, there are plenty of other things worth considering before taking the plunge.

Building Codes: Oftentimes, historic homes are subject to additional building codes that regulate the ability to add onto the home, acceptable window replacements, etc.  It’ important to understand the types of restrictions you might be facing to evaluate whether or not you can live with them.

The Storage Struggle:  Remember the closet space you had in your first college apartment?  That might be generous compared to what you’ll find in an older home.  abThat’s because when you’re sewing your own clothing, you tend to own only the basics.  If you purchase a historic home, be prepared to get creative with storage solutions.

Your Homeowners Insurance: Insurance companies offer policies that are specifically targeted for historic homes, but expect to pay extra for this type of coverage.  That’s because rates are calculated based on risk and with historic homes, the odds of an insurance claim are higher than a newer home.  Be sure to understand what your policy covers, as some provide guaranteed coverage with restoration, while others may not be as robust.

Outdated Technology: Whether it’s the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, insulation or chimney, there are an abundance of outdated areas in a home that can present problems.  For example, if the current circuit breaker box is the original, it highly likely that it cannot hprovide the amount of power necessary to keep all of your home’s electronics running.  Dated homes often have galvanized pipes.  These pipes can be hazardous because eventually, they corrode and impede the flow of water.  All of these items come with a hefty price tag.

Utility Bills: A significant recurring cost of owning a historic home is monthly energy bills, as they are higher in a historic home than a new construction one.  That’s because older homes were designed to breathe.  Restricting air circulation can promote moisture, which can lead to mold growth.  Retrofitting an older home to be energy efficient can be a costly endeavor.  Before signing on the dotted line for a new home, review its previous years of utility bills to have a better understanding of what you are getting into.