What is the difference between old house character and a defect?

Friday, December 11, 2020

A smiling young realtor in a starched white shirt and red bow tie met us at the door of an open house for a 1930’s Chert stone cottage a few years ago with this greeting: “Are you old house people? If you are, you’re gonna love this place!” Translated, that means he was hoping we would want the charming, antique details of a home approaching a century old enough to overlook its accumulated aches and pains. 

    “Old house people” love their homes because they come with an historic pedigree, are often in leafy, upscale neighborhoods near the center of town, and have details popular in their era—like a sleeping porch for balmy summer nights and an impressive fireplace. They also usually have a small, enclosed kitchen, and were built before a master bedroom suite became an expected part of a house.

    But those things, along with the telephone nook with a built-in bench in the hallway, are all part of old house character. And, while a home inspector can appreciate the charm of an old house, we have to look at the functional condition, safety, and remaining useful life of the home’s components. Defects like old fuse boxes, knob-and-tube wiring, corroded plumbing, and leaky windows are what we focus on. So an inspector can seem like an old grump that doesn’t appreciate authentic historic character. But we do. It’s just not what we are hired to evaluate.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about OLDER AND HISTORIC HOUSES: 

What is a chert house? 

What is "Ocala" block? What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses? 

Is this old home a Sears Catalog house? • What are the most common problems with older houses? 

Why is an old fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house? 

• Does a home inspector expect the  electrical system of an older house to meet current code standards? 
  
    Visit our OLDER AND HISTORIC HOUSES page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.


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