If you’re in the market for a new home, don’t disregard the option of an old home! Old homes have the romance and charm that’s difficult to find in new developments. They have a unique history and tell a story that their homeowners are lucky to be a part of. While new homes can be fresh and sleek, they’re often cookie cutter and lack the quirks, quality and character that come with an old home. Our very own Nina Asusa is quite an authority on old homes, having owned and lived in two, and selling many to her clients. Today, we talk to Nina about the difference between old and new homes, obstacles homeowners can expect with old homes, and most importantly, what makes old homes so special.
1. What makes old homes so special?
“There are so many amazing things about old homes: The incredible craftsmanship, the quality materials, but most preciously, the history and stories they tell. The romance and charm of an older home can’t be duplicated in a new home. The history can’t be matched, unless you want to live in your brand new home for 100+ years...oh wait, you’d run out of time!
The nostalgia and neighbourhood cannot easily be duplicated either. The secret hiding spots and nooks that kids love; the stories the rooms tell; the impressive old banisters- there is so much to love about old homes.”
2. What is the life expectancy of old homes vs. new homes? What are the reasons for the difference?
“The life expectancy of a new home is 100 years. That’s it. The life expectancy of what we would consider an ‘old home’ (1800 to 1940s) is hundreds of years. We’re all fascinated by that, but some of the most beautiful European cottages and castles date back to the 1600s. These are rock solid properties offering exceptional construction and insulation qualities.
Typically, real materials such as solid wood doors, beautiful old hardwood, gorgeous trim and doorways, leaded windows, and beveled glass doors are used in old homes. There’s also the beautiful character in some of that wood that is irreplaceable.
How about the old wavy glass? That rare and valuable glass comes from techniques rarely used today. These glass panes were created by using a glass blowing process, which largely contributed to the rippled or wavy effect in windows in older homes. Glass, if left undisturbed, does not change its composition over time. No matter how old, it remains as beautiful as the day it was installed.
Lathe and plaster walls are stronger, and plaster is more fire resistant than drywall. Plus, old walls may contain slight surface trowel marks, adding a desirable old world feel to the character of a home. Plaster walls shouldn’t be covered or ripped out and replaced by drywall unless they show extensive damage. Before you rip out anything of such high quality, think again! Do some research and find out why so many love the “quirky” features that come along with many old homes. Consult with us and we’ll connect you with specialists in any field!”
3. What are some issues/obstacles that can arise with old homes and how can homeowners overcome them?
“The main issue would stem from not understanding the home well enough. When you’re informed and understand the concept of what makes an older home special, you embrace any issues that come with them. With so much information available online, as well as the consultation of trade professionals who have been working with old homes for many years, there’s no reason to fear an older home. They’re typically better built with the best materials. They were built one at a time so quality was of the essence, and they stand the test of time.”
4. What would you tell homeowners who are trying to decide between a new home and an old home?
“A home is like a fine wine or scotch- it gets better with age. The caveat being that an older home should show that it has been well maintained and preserved. A great location and lot size are a bonus of old homes. We recommend an inspection so you learn to understand your new “old” home and also discover hidden issues not seen by the naked eye.
New homes have an appeal. Some homeowners choose brand new or newer because they have the perception that they’re safe. But it’s just a perception. New isn’t always better, new is just different. A new home can be fresh and clean and sleek, but can also look too typical of an entire subdivision, can be cold and sterile, and can lack the mature trees and other characteristics that give personality to older homes.”
5. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about why you love old homes so much?
“Old homes tell a story. An old home gives you a sense of place and time, and a perspective of where you fit in this huge, sometimes impersonal world. You may be a very small part, but you are a part of the history of that home. Old homes tell a story- add your own story to its story!”