​10 things nobody told you about buying an older home

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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In the search for that dream house, some of us consider older homes; sometimes because of price (as they sometimes tend to be more cost-friendly than modern or renovated houses), other times because of that charming vintage character. 

But whether or not you intend to make that old home your permanent residence, or sell it again at a higher price after giving it a decent do-over, there are a few factors to take into consideration when you enter the realm of older homes. 

And just like some of the major things in life, nobody tells you the hardcore facts until you’re smack-bang in the middle of the process.

Luckily, homify is here…

1. Remember: older home means older technology

La Croisee: rustic Houses by CCD Architects
CCD Architects

La Croisee

CCD Architects

This should be an obvious factor, yet many people are surprised at how “old” an old house looks and works. 

Because that old house made use of older building materials, it might be less environmentally friendly or sustainable than the neighbours’ more modern residence. Therefore, don’t be surprised if elements like solar panels or double-glazed windows are non-existent. 

And don’t get angry if you need to fork out to waterproof the ceiling, update the bricks, or enhance that roof – it’s all part of the old-house process.

2. That priceless character

Old White Oak Dark:  Walls & flooring by Quick-Step
Quick-Step

Old White Oak Dark

Quick-Step

With that older house comes a vintage character that was hot and happening when the house was built, but is decidedly less modern now. But this is not necessarily a bad thing!

Hardwood floors, antique door frames, and traditional windows all add a sense of history to a house, which can make your chosen old house a real striking find. 

And the good news with buying an older home is that you can always incorporate a bit of the old with a bit of the new.

3. Don’t balk at remodelling

Don’t see a remodelling requirement as a bad omen; it can be the ideal opportunity to really hone in on what you love about that old house, plus a chance to incorporate more modern elements into that old character (if you want), like underfloor heating or brand-new handles for the kitchen counters. 

But don’t jump head-first into that remodelling project: before buying the house, consult an architect, as well as the house’ original plans. See what will be possible to remodel and what old elements you’d like to keep. 

The architect can advise you on what will work and what not, thereby providing you with information which can alter your decision to buy the house or not.

4. Insurance is a fact

classic Bedroom by Ignacio Quemada Arquitectos
Ignacio Quemada Arquitectos

Hotel at a Baroque XVIII Century House. Bedroom

Ignacio Quemada Arquitectos

Before signing on the dotted line, first research the insurance factors to see if that vintage beauty is going to bankrupt you. This is important for several reasons:

1. Old wiring 

2. Roofing materials that are not storm sensitive 

3. Plumbing that might need replacing 

4. Rare materials (such as antique doors) that can cost a pretty penny to replace 

5. Old appliances that are deemed risky or dangerous.

So, rather consult an insurance broker and do a full evaluation of the home to avoid sleepless nights!

5. The top two updates

The Old Forge House, Hertfordshire | Classic Painted Shaker Kitchen: country Kitchen by Humphrey Munson
Humphrey Munson

The Old Forge House, Hertfordshire | Classic Painted Shaker Kitchen

Humphrey Munson

Buying an older home will most likely lead to two major updates: the bathroom and the kitchen.

A few decades ago, kitchens were hidden away behind corners and down halls. Today, they have become prime socialising spots, sometimes merging with other rooms like the dining room or living room. This can be a factor you might want to consider, not to mention ensuring you have all of the modern appliances necessary (and perhaps add in a fabulous kitchen island?). 

Bathroom tiles keep evolving like nobody’s business, which means a bathroom that was done as recently as 10 years ago can seem quite ancient today. A bathroom revamp shouldn't be too expensive and may just involve a paint job, re-tiling, or replacing the bathtub and toilet. But be sure to go with a classic look that won't go out of fashion any time soon!

6. Mixing old with new

One of the biggest advantages of acquiring an old home is your chance to mix the old with the brand new. 

Just think about the striking environments you can achieve, i.e. a vintage living room with ceiling beams and classic stone wall, to which you add modern furniture and up-to-date technology. Super sleek stainless steel always looks fantastic when added to older environments, like dark wood or rustic stone. Just a thought…

7. Remodelling for a modern touch

Apart from redoing the bathroom and kitchen, you have the freedom to remodel any section of the house if you want to make it more modern. 

You can break down walls to merge rooms and conjure up spacious open plan areas. You can remodel the bedrooms, living room, or dining room to give it a sleeker, edgier touch. And you don’t need to compromise on trend or comfort when it comes to your own, self-bought home. If you don't like something, change it – it's your space!

The best part is that all of these updates will add to your house’s value, boosting that old house’s worth (and your investment in it) considerably.

8. When to contact the historical society

If remodelling is high on your agenda, you need to check with the historical societies in your neighbourhood to see if there are any remodelling restrictions. And although this may seem strange, especially since it’s your house, there are certain rules when it comes to historical homes. 

Ask your estate agent to check for any information regarding this (if they haven’t already done so) before committing to buying that older house – you really don’t want to end up paying for something with which you can’t do anything!

9. What about your new appliances?

Will that sleek dishwasher and fancy flat screen of yours work in your older home? This all comes down to the wiring, and your checking whether that older house’s infrastructure can support your modern appliances.

To be safe rather than sorry, consult an electrician before you spend a fortune on re-wiring an entire house! 

Speaking of appliances, check out these: 6 Must-Have Retro Kitchen Appliances.

10. Embrace the difficulties

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – that is most certainly true! So, let go of any difficulties and pre-conceived notions you have in your mind about that older house, and embrace owning it. 

See the creaking ceiling and cracking floor as an adventure in the making, but be smart about it! You have the freedom to transform it into any space you want, but be sure that your budget plays along. 

And when things get a bit overwhelming, take a step back and remind yourself what a fantastic investment you are busy with – and how stunning your new furniture is going to look against that vintage backdrop.

Would you love to own an older home? Or is new and modern more your style? Sound off in our comments section, below!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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