Is an Old House Right for You?

Buying a Historic Home in GuelphIn the course of working with Guelph home buyers, I often hear from them that they’d love to buy a historic home. Typically it’s the Guelph neighbourhood along with the character of older homes that they cite as reasons for their preference. 

I get it. I am a big fan of old homes and my own Guelph house was built in the 1860s. It has loads of character and quite a few quirks, and I must admit I’m very attached to my little old house. That being said, in retrospect I do wish I had entered into home ownership with a much bigger nest egg for repairs and renovations. On more than one occasion I have described my home as a money pit and it has lived up to that moniker.

When I work with buyers who are searching for a historic Guelph home, here are a few of the suggestions I make during the process, to help them determine if an old house is right for them.

First, when you’re searching for a home in Guelph, you’ll need to understand and accept the quirks and limitations that many old homes have. You may find few if any closets, for example, as well as smaller bedrooms. Fan of open concept layouts? That wasn’t how folks lived in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, so you’ll only find that in a historic Guelph home that has already been renovated. Perfectly straight walls and floors that don’t creak a bit will also be hard to come by. To truly love an old house, you need to accept these quirks and others and, ideally, learn to accept them as part of your home’s charm.

When it comes time to buy the old home you’ve found, an inspection is a critical part of the process. Work with a home inspector who is familiar with old homes. You’ll be looking for many issues, but top of the list would be things like old knob and tube wiring, galvanized plumbing, and asbestos. Also, if the old house in Guelph you want to purchase has a heritage designation, ask your Realtor to explain what the implications are for you. 

Be liberal with the budget you set aside for ongoing expenses, be it for planned renovations or ongoing maintenance. I can tell you from experience that repairs and renos in an old home are rarely simple and often don’t go according to plan. Best case scenario – you’ll wind up with a budget surplus and some ‘fun money’ at the end of the year.

There is something about old houses and their charm, but not everyone is cut out for the challenges that coincide with this lifestyle choice. Think through the choice wisely!

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