This Old Westfield House
Do you love the idea of living in an historic home? Are you captivated by the unique style and charm of an older Victorian or Colonial home? Does the idea of restoring a ninteenth- or early twentieth-century home intrigue you? If so, an Old Westfield House may be the right fit for you.
Keep the following guidelines in mind:
1. Get an architect and/or contractor to look at the old Westfield House you are considering so that you have a sense of what work will need to be done. Be sure the contractor is well versed in the particular challenges of older houses (such as lead paint, asbestos, etc.). And don’t let an emotional attachment to a beautiful older house overwhelm realism. An older house with major structural problems should be approached with caution!
2. Be realistic about the cost of repairs and include those costs in your overall budget as you negotiate the price of the house. Add 20% to 25% to the estimated cost for repairs; older houses have many hidden problems that aren’t revealed until work is begun. Be prudent and be sure to use contractors and architects experienced in working with older houses.
3. Live in your Old Westfield House for a while, if you can, before undertaking major repairs. Try to understand what makes the house function well and what needs to be updated. A little patience and forbearance may mean you are happier with your changes in the long run.
4. Try to maintain the original, historic character of the home as you renovate. Remember, some of those idiosyncracies are what made you fall in love with the house in the first place. Don’t assume old windows need to be replaced; a lot of good insulating work can be done with a little caulk. Don’t rush to replace your plaster walls; electric wiring can often be updated with some careful snaking.
5. Expect some basic but substantial updates. There may be an old oil tank in the yard that needs to be yanked. I recommend you negotiate for this to be done before taking ownership. At the same time, you may want to convert from costly, dirty oil to relatively cheap and clean natural gas. Likewise, your electrical system will likely need an overhaul, especially if you have knob and tube wiring. And the drafts in your old house are likely to be less than charming in the winter: you will want to consider a variety of insulation alternatives. In addition to insulation, radiant heated floors, added in particularly cold spots, can also solve your Old Westfield house’s unwelcome chill.
In the near future, cooling will be as important or more so, than heating. i’ll blog soon on the 3 most popular alternatives–High velocity central air, conventional central air, and ductless split systems.
If none of the cautions above put you off and you are ready to face the challenges of this Old Westfield House, you have a unique and rewarding adventure ahead of you. There’s nothing that compares to the thrill of restoring the beauty of an older home. If you have the time, the patience, the energy, and the resources, you will enjoy bringing your Old Westfield House back to life.
If I can help you find one of these diamonds in the rough and offer guidance in your renovation adventure, feel free to reach out to me.
RE/MAX Properties Unlimited
200 North Avenue East
Westfield, NJ 07090