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Would you buy a farmhouse built in


Runningmom80
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My house is around 1800. I love it but it is a lot of work. In ten years, we've replaced the roof, windows, most knob & tube wiring, some plumbing, some flooring, all the kitchen appliances, w/d, hot water tank, furnace, half the foundation and repainted.

 

Watch the Money Pit. It's not really all that much of an exaggeration. Repairs are never-ending. If you're lucky, the prior owners will have "caught up" on the repairs and you'll have a year or two of grace.

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My house is around 1800. I love it but it is a lot of work. In ten years, we've replaced the roof, windows, most knob & tube wiring, some plumbing, some flooring, all the kitchen appliances, w/d, hot water tank, furnace, half the foundation and repainted.

 

Watch the Money Pit. It's not really all that much of an exaggeration. Repairs are never-ending. If you're lucky, the prior owners will have "caught up" on the repairs and you'll have a year or two of grace.

 

That's exactly what I've been picturing!

 

But you do love it, right? ;)

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I would be very cautious! I grew up in a house that was built around 1770.

 

Inspect all wood structures for dry rot or insect/termite damage. Check rock for weakening. In the area where I live now, there are many older homes with sandstone foundations. Unfortunately, the sandstone is wearing away and many of them are now experiencing some major foundation issues as a result. Carefully examine any area that has been in contact with the soil, which may have erroded or damaged the sill.

 

The plumbing and electricity in these houses may be cobbled together and not fit well into the structure since it was not designed for such "new fangled" ideas. Rooms may be small, which allowed for easier heating. There may not be much storage space, since people didn't have nearly the volume of stuff back then. Cellars may sound romantic, but after a few hundred years, many start to leak or shift and may be nearly unuseable - if not a costly liability. Most windows in these homes are not a standard size - in fact, not much of anything will be standard, so doors, windows, screens, etc. will all have to be custom made.

 

It can be hard to do repairs on a home like this. The ground under the foundation may have shifted significantly, so things may not be plumb or level. The old wood that hasn't rotted may be incredibly hard. When we were having repairs done on our house, the construction crew burned up 3 electric drills and told us that they were actually able to strike sparks off some of the old oak timbers because they were so hard (I can't really believe that, but that's what they said!) Also when doing repairs, the liklihood is much greater that when you begin to address one problem, you will discover other underlying ones that will require 4 times as much time and 5 times as much money to fix.

 

Check to see whether the house you are considering has been listed on the Historical Register of Homes. Sounds prestigious, but the reality is that if it is on the list, that severely limits you regarding what rennovations and changes you can make to it. HTH

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I would be very cautious! I grew up in a house that was built around 1770.

 

Inspect all wood structures for dry rot or insect/termite damage. Check rock for weakening. In the area where I live now, there are many older homes with sandstone foundations. Unfortunately, the sandstone is wearing away and many of them are now experiencing some major foundation issues as a result. Carefully examine any area that has been in contact with the soil, which may have erroded or damaged the sill.

 

The plumbing and electricity in these houses may be cobbled together and not fit well into the structure since it was not designed for such "new fangled" ideas. Rooms may be small, which allowed for easier heating. There may not be much storage space, since people didn't have nearly the volume of stuff back then. Cellars may sound romantic, but after a few hundred years, many start to leak or shift and may be nearly unuseable - if not a costly liability. Most windows in these homes are not a standard size - in fact, not much of anything will be standard, so doors, windows, screens, etc. will all have to be custom made.

 

It can be hard to do repairs on a home like this. The ground under the foundation may have shifted significantly, so things may not be plumb or level. The old wood that hasn't rotted may be incredibly hard. When we were having repairs done on our house, the construction crew burned up 3 electric drills and told us that they were actually able to strike sparks off some of the old oak timbers because they were so hard (I can't really believe that, but that's what they said!) Also when doing repairs, the liklihood is much greater that when you begin to address one problem, you will discover other underlying ones that will require 4 times as much time and 5 times as much money to fix.

 

Check to see whether the house you are considering has been listed on the Historical Register of Homes. Sounds prestigious, but the reality is that if it is on the list, that severely limits you regarding what rennovations and changes you can make to it. HTH

 

Thank you! Definitely eye opening, good points!

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I would stay away if the house was not updated recently- specifically with electricity in the last ten-twenty years, Further back then that, you may have problems with things like aluminum wiring, which is a fire hazard, and generally inadequate electricity. I think the others have said enough about other things to look out for.

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Also, just remembered...

 

It can be really hard to insulate one of these old houses and retain the authentic charm. The oldest part of the house I grew up in was a log cabin from the 1770's. My parents had to decide whether to expose the logs on the inside and put insulation and siding on the outside, or to insulate and cover the inside and expose the logs on the outside. But it was just too cold by our modern standards to not add any insulation.

 

A newer part of the house was added right before the Civil War. The "newest addition" to the house was added in 1890. There were no building codes or standard way of doing things back then and many of the repairs and additions were put on by owners or unskilled laborers. So be sure to check that the whole place is actually structurally sound.

 

Also check your water supply. A well that might have been fine in the past might now be contaminated with ag runoff or whatever and may be a real health hazard.

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Have the foundation beams carefully checked for dry rot before you commit. On our family farm in MN we wanted to keep the old farm house going (the oldest part was over 100 yrs old when I was a kid), but we discovered the beams had dry rot and the house had to be torn down before it fell down.

 

Cellars make great storm shelters in case of tornado, but do make sure they are sound, and preferably have more than one entrance/exit.

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My teen years were spent in an early 1800's farmhouse. It was home but it was also filled with problems that would have taken a bigger pile of money than we had to fix properly. So instead bandaid solutions were the norm.

 

There was a one room addition that didn't seem to have insulaiton and had a fireplace that didn't vent properly. Heck, that room didn't even have a foundation. It was COLD. It had beautiful woodwork though.

 

The windows were old single pane numbers that we added slide-in screens to in the summer.

 

Heating was from gas space heaters in various rooms throughout the house. My room didn't have one. It was cold. Come to think of it, I was always cold in winter there. Summer wasn't so bad, because we could always sleep out on the porch.

 

It did have a great front and back porch, plus lovely old trees on the lot.

 

Our water was from a well and now that I'm sure was much too close to the septic system to pass modern codes. We lived anyway.

 

We had to leave the water running all the time during really cold spells to keep the water pipes from freezing.

 

Part of the cellar was dirt with stones stuck in. It was scary and we didn't venture down there much. The stairs going up and down were very steep and narrow.

 

Like I said, it was home. But if it were still standing I wouldn't buy the place unless I planned to knock it down and build something else in its place.

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One of my favorite homes in my town was built around 1788 or '98. Something like that. It is magnificent. It has been well cared for, updated, and it simply stunning in it's classic, beautiful lines. It's in move-in condition with all the updated bells and whistles, which makes it even more desirable, yet not a bargain. lol

 

If I were 26, I would buy something like you're talking about , knowing I had all the time in the world to fix it. I took on a 100 year old farmhouse, and while I love it, the previous owners were rather stingy with updates. We're doing it slowly, and adding value. But It's solid, and sturdy. No gaping holes or crumbling foundation etc.

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My uncle bought a 300 year old farmhouse in France. They pretty much gutted the inside to redo wiring, etc. but it's a beautiful property and it was dirt cheap at $35K and since his housing in the States is free, they have a lot of money to pour into it. They divided it into two homes and rent one out year-round and the other during the school year while he and his wife teach in the US. They spend their summers at the house in France. When they retire, they plan to live there full-time and not have renters anymore.

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The house dh and I spent our first 10 years in wasn't anywhere near that old (1906) and I hated it. Uneven floors, not enough electrical outlets, drafty, impossible to heat, miserable in the summer, full of dust, bugs, one bathroom, seven bedrooms. Nasty. It looked so cute on the outside, three stories, full of ginger bread, porches on all levels and even a built in bee room in the very top.

 

I was so happy when we tore it down and built. Never would I wish for an old house.

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I love, love, love old houses! I grew up in an old farmhouse (I'm thinking mid-late 1800's, so not terribly old). My dad spent most of his spare time fixing it. When my parents were able to, they sold that lovely old house and built a new one. ;)

 

When dh and I were in the market for a house, we looked at old ones and had given up finding one we both liked when a house on the market was just lowered to the top of our price range. It was a beautiful old log home. It's had a few additions over the years. The oldest part of the house is 1819. Our kitchen is probably 150ish years old and the latest addition is early 1980's. The couple who owned the home went to great lengths to restore it to it's original beauty and, the addition they put on on the early 80's was built to fit perfectly with the house. We do have the logs exposed inside the house, but only exposed outside on the covered front porch. I love our house. I just love it. However-it is pretty chilly in the winter. We have had to do work on it, but the biggest expense was replacing windows (which made a HUGE difference in the winter temps). BUT the biggest thing is that WE didn't have to do any of the restoration work. It was move-in ready and we paid for that with our mortgage, lol.

 

DH and I lived in a old home that we worked on while we lived there and it is not something I'd want to do while homeschooling. At the time, we were young, had no children, and it wasn't too bad dealing with working on a house. There is no way I'd want to do it now. Little projects here and there I can handle. Major ones? No thanks.

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Thank you for your experiences everyone!

 

 

I love old houses too, especially an old farm house, but I definitely don't want to be spending all of our time and money fixing up a house! We would only consider this if it has been well taken care of/updated well.

 

I appreciate all of your replies!

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Our farmhouse is about late 1600's.... we're not sure exactly because it pre-dates our town hall. This thing does not MOVE in the wind! It's built like a rock. We've lived here 9 years and absolutely love it, but as others have said, it pays to be informed. Are there any home inspectors in your area that specialize in colonial era homes? A friend of ours helped us out in that regard, and gave us an unofficial inspection to go with our official one. We also were fortunate to get to meet two of the previous owners and have a lot of history on the house and repairs/upgrades that have been done over the years.

 

I don't have much to add. I think the most important things are: updated electrical (part of our electrical is old knob and tube, and some insurance companies don't like that), insulation, pests (especially termites and powder post beetles), fireplaces (are they safe to use) and foundation.

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My house is around 1800. I love it but it is a lot of work. In ten years, we've replaced the roof, windows, most knob & tube wiring, some plumbing, some flooring, all the kitchen appliances, w/d, hot water tank, furnace, half the foundation and repainted.

 

Watch the Money Pit. It's not really all that much of an exaggeration. Repairs are never-ending. If you're lucky, the prior owners will have "caught up" on the repairs and you'll have a year or two of grace.

 

Money Pit, Money Pit, Money Pit....

 

That said, ours is not quite that old - it's a former United Methodist Church building - brick and stone with stained glass windows though the windows are simple...not ornate cathedral windows though they are the same size and shape. The cornerstone was laid in 1898 and due to funding issues for the church family, wasn't completed until 1908 with the back addition - what was once a church kitchen and small fellowship area, added just after the end of WWII.

 

I do love it. However, it is not for the faint of heart! We had to completely renovate it including the total gutting of the kitchen/bathroom part - plaster and lathe not being the most fun thing to remove by the bucket load from a building!

 

Wiring, windows, roof, heating system, plumbing, it all had to be redone and the original hardwood floors and trim had to be refinished. Back breaking labor.

 

We adore our home. But, 7 years later, we would not do it again unless we could afford to hire people to do it for us. We did all of it ourselves with some assistance from my dear dad. Yikes! I look back and wonder if we had lost our minds. It was a crazy, exhausting period of our life.

 

Next up - hiring a custom window company to make new windows to fit the shape of our stained glass ones because they just simply aren't going to make it! You.do.not.want.to.know.what.this.is.going.to.cost.

 

Faith

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The house dh and I spent our first 10 years in wasn't anywhere near that old (1906) and I hated it. Uneven floors, not enough electrical outlets, drafty, impossible to heat, miserable in the summer, full of dust, bugs, one bathroom, seven bedrooms. Nasty. It looked so cute on the outside, three stories, full of ginger bread, porches on all levels and even a built in bee room in the very top.

 

I was so happy when we tore it down and built. Never would I wish for an old house.

 

 

 

This.

 

When we moved we looked at a couple victorians in very good shape. I loved them, LOVED them. But having come from a 120 year old house that was a constant source of problems, nothing easily fixable, hot/cold, dusty, and cramped I just couldn't commit to another old house.

 

We ended up with one that has all the charm, tons of character and looks a little like a gingerbread house, but it is almost brand new. We got it for a steal because it wasn't finished inside and have been able to get it perfect for 1/4 the cost an old home would have been in the first few years.

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We have owned two old homes; our first was built in 1812, and our current home was built in 1741. We love love love old homes. I haven't read all the responses, but first and foremost get a good inspector who knows old homes. Also, unless it's been kept up in very good condition, know that it will require work (time and knowledge of how to do said work) or it will take money to hire someone to do that work, which in all honesty is getting harder and harder to find. Get really good references and make sure you trust whoever will be doing any work. There are so many contractors who don't know what they're doing. Careful, though, you may just get bit by the bug, and you'll never go new build again. Old houses are awesome :thumbup:

 

Do you have a link? I'd love to see it!!

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My house is around 1800. I love it but it is a lot of work. In ten years, we've replaced the roof, windows, most knob & tube wiring, some plumbing, some flooring, all the kitchen appliances, w/d, hot water tank, furnace, half the foundation and repainted.

 

Watch the Money Pit. It's not really all that much of an exaggeration. Repairs are never-ending. If you're lucky, the prior owners will have "caught up" on the repairs and you'll have a year or two of grace.

 

 

Yes to this.

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Our house was built in 1927. It was in decent shape when we bought it. We gutted it and have replaced everything but the studs and even some of those. Without the insurance money from our house fire, we never could have done what needed to be done. It's a great old/new house now but it's one of those things (like grad school) that dh and I look at each other and say, "glad we did that. Never again."

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My grandmother lived in a house with the oldest part built in 1718. My dad lives in one with the oldest part (log cabin) built before the Revolutionary War and the "newer" part built in early 1800s. He put on a small addition to add another bathroom.

 

My grandmother's house had been in the family a number of years, so the condition was known and it had been well cared for an updated along the way. I remember the very deep window sills--like 12-18 inches wide, the wooden floors and exposed beams. There was a nice fireplace in one room downstairs and one bedroom upstairs. I remember sleeping in that room the night we watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and there were birds that hung out in the chimney! :scared: We also occasionally found an arrowhead that would work its way out and fall down. The walls were super thick, stone on the outside and plaster on the inside. They were thick enough that there were cabinets built into the walls. Like others have said, no closets in the original rooms. Sometime along the line, there had been an addition added with a "parlor" and upstairs bedroom and bath, and another addition with a kitchen. (It was detached in my dad's lifetime.) When I was little, they build one more little addition with a more modern kitchen and powder room. The basement was a dirt floor. I was scared to go down there. There were snakes sometimes I think. The stairwells were spiral to the basement or up to the second floor were spiral and we were repeatedly warned to walk on the "wide part." I think the attic may have been haunted. I don't recall anything happening specifically as a kid, but I had really truly horrible nightmares about that attic for years.

 

My dad's house now was purchased from a family whose ancestors had owned it for years--so again, it was well taken care of. It has a wonderful huge fireplace in the log cabin part, with a swing arm for putting a pot on and two openings carved out for baking. The window sills are wide like my grandmother's house. The 1800s stone part of the house has 2 fireplaces downstairs and 2 upstairs. The upstairs ones are blocked up. They are all beautiful. That cellar is partly cement now, but there is a part with a door that looks like a jail door :tongue_smilie: to another part that is sunken and just dirt. (It's supposed to be lower)

 

Again, no closets in the old part of the house, so they use wardrobes, and have one tiny bedroom for a dressing room. All the bedrooms are quite "cozy."

 

To my knowledge, there were not huge problems with either house.

 

That being said, my dad is phenomenally handy :smash: and now that he's older, just hires someone and supervises anything that needs to be done. There is an old barn on the property. That has had a lot of work done on it.

 

Both old houses are incredibly charming.

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I would also check the water/sewer lines that go to the road. I keep seeing over and over again on HGTV about those needing to be replaced as they are clay pipes and have tree roots growing in them.

 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at older homes............and then enjoy coming home to my 20 year old house.

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The 1700's?

 

 

Has anyone bought a really really old house?

 

 

I really want a farmhouse, (this one that we have found online, haven't even stepped foot in it, so this is just a fun hypothetical) but this one is OLD.

 

So tell me what I need to know going in....

 

 

 

 

No. Don't even ask.

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We live in an 1851 farmhouse. We have lived here a bit over a decade. We've put on a new roof, some electric, some structural reinforcement, door hardware repair/replacements, removed an add on porch, etc.

It is definitely the money pit. We totally love it. Yes, we frequently question our sanity. There are few closets. You can only put pictures on some walls. No duct work to the second floor for heat or ac.

Thankfully there was no plumbing in the house until the mid 1990s (long story). So the plumbing is in good condition.

Think long and hard about doing this.

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I would also check the water/sewer lines that go to the road. I keep seeing over and over again on HGTV about those needing to be replaced as they are clay pipes and have tree roots growing in them.

 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE looking at older homes............and then enjoy coming home to my 20 year old house.

 

 

 

Or the house could simply be missing the septic tank completely. Yeah, you don't want to know that story. We have a really old farmhouse and it has its joys and its sorrows ;)

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It depends how well it was built. I grew up in a house built in brick as part of a terrace in the late 1700s. That house was solid. We had to replace the electrics and heating, but the basic house was in really good condition.

 

Laura

 

 

You have lived in such cool places!

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The 1700's?

 

 

Has anyone bought a really really old house?

 

 

I really want a farmhouse, (this one that we have found online, haven't even stepped foot in it, so this is just a fun hypothetical) but this one is OLD.

 

So tell me what I need to know going in....

 

No opinion, but where is this? NOTHING like that around here.....

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You have lived in such cool places!

 

My parents bought it in 1965. At that time, they were very unfashionable: most had been split up into flats or bedsits for old ladies or students. My parents sold their two-rooms-up-two-rooms-down modern house for more than it took to buy five stories of Georgian gorgeousness. We lived in it as-is (apart from replacing the heating system) for eight years of so until my mum came into some money, then they renovated and repainted it in Georgian colours. Lovely place. Worth about a million pounds now - we sold it too early.

 

Laura

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FWIW, much of the housing stock of the UK is over 100 years old. It's not seen as a big deal. Our current house boasts bits from the 19th century plus later additions. Get a really good survey done so that you know what you are dealing with.

 

Laura

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I'm another one who loves old houses. I grew up in a house that was most likely built sometime in the 1600's, so our 1880 farmhouse is relatively brand-spanking new. :lol:

 

We replaced all the electric and plumbing, refinished the floors, deleaded, and put in a new kitchen and bath - when we bought we didn't have kids yet. We did just redo the roof, but after we've lived here almost 20 years, and this new one should last us till we get old and retire somewhere. If you live somewhere long enough, you're going to have to do things like redo the roof no matter how new the house was when you bought it. I think it would have been hard to do the work we did with kids underfoot, though. But a lot of older houses have now had the work done - if someone bought this house from us today, it would have updated plumbing and wiring, a modern kitchen and bath, a new roof, no lead, etc.

 

And do get a good inspector. The previous owner had to dig a new well, fix a chimney and put in some radon mitigation based on inspections we had done - all at no cost to us.

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Did you brave souls who bought these old homes have your inspections before or after you put in the offer? I know you can do contingency offers, but from what I'm reading online, with these really old houses, people advise getting the inspection before putting in the offer.

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Did you brave souls who bought these old homes have your inspections before or after you put in the offer? I know you can do contingency offers, but from what I'm reading online, with these really old houses, people advise getting the inspection before putting in the offer.

 

After the offer, with a contingency.

 

I can't imagine why a seller would be willing to let you do a house inspection without an offer. It's a hassle. They would feel obligated to clean thoroughly. They would have to accommodate his schedule. They would then have to update the disclosure form with whatever the inspector found (or claimed to find). I know I wouldn't, unless the buyer were serious and proved it with an offer.

 

Of course, we did a pretty thorough "inspection" ourselves before that.

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After the offer, with a contingency.

 

I can't imagine why a seller would be willing to let you do a house inspection without an offer. It's a hassle. They would feel obligated to clean thoroughly. They would have to accommodate his schedule. They would then have to update the disclosure form with whatever the inspector found (or claimed to find). I know I wouldn't, unless the buyer were serious and proved it with an offer.

 

Of course, we did a pretty thorough "inspection" ourselves before that.

 

This! In our area, no one is going to accomodate the inspector unless there is a serious offer on the table. We have so few inspectors that waiting for one is like waiting for the cable guy - "I'll be there sometime between April 17th and the 21st any moment from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m." kind of thing. No one is going to go for that unless there is an offer that also includes some decent earnest money so the seller knows you aren't playing games.

 

Dh and my dad have enough experience in construction that we didn't need an inspector. They were very capable of doing that themselves. We knew what we were getting into for certain. Like I said, I do love our forever home. My parents were married in what is now my living room, as well as a dear aunt and uncle and friends of the family. Though some might find it creepy, since it was the church of my childhood, I can say that several family funeral services occurred in my living room and my brother, myself, and sister were baptized here along with numerous cousins. We have a connection to the building that transcends it just being a quaint, historical site. But, I would never, ever do it again. Never. I have to consider the possibility that dh working full time and spending two plus years working on this place so we could move in, took years off his life expectancy! It was intensive labor and he couldn't quit his job to accomodate it.

 

Historic buildings are A LOT of work. If you can hire the work done, great! If you can't, be very, very careful.

 

Faith

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Thanks everyone! I don't think I'm brave enough to actually buy a house that old, but I want to look at it anyways.

 

Keep in mind the newer houses can be a nightmare too. Buy one from the 20's and you might be dealing with knob and tube wiring. Buy one from the 60's and you may be dealing with asbestos. Buy a new build and you may be dealing with a horribly negligent build.

 

The only fix is always to research, research, research and get the house inspected by a qualified inspector...Or two.

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