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Figure out addition age...


I recently bought a house with an original structure that I can say definitively is pre 1850. It has several additions including a 1950s a 1980s and a new kitchen wing in 2000. On the side of the 1850s section is an addition that appears to be late 1800s in style, wood flooring and nails, and other little details. However when I had the house inspected the inspector was quite insistant that this addition was added in 1950 along with the addition on the other side of the 1850 section and that the owner just made it look old. His evidence was that the floor boards were of softer wood than the same type of floor boards in the bedroom of the 1850s section. He did this by sight and didn't bend down to feel the floors to confirm this. The inspector specializes in old houses and seemed very knowledgable - but this addition feels very old.

Besides my curiousity, this section has a very small stairway from the first floor to the second. I am updating the bathroom in the second floor and would like to get rid of the stairs to gain more space. If this is a fiftie addition then I have no problem - if 1800s then I won't touch it.

My home is in Bucks County PA and its a classic simple PA farmhouse. I have a hard tim believing in 1950 they would go to the trouble of making an extension that looks and feels like an old home...

Any ideas?

Re: Figure out addition age...

I'd tend to agree with you but if I were to have an old house, anything I added would be done as much as possible to match the old house to maintain it's character. So I'm sure that others would do the same. One clue to look at is the framing lumber- being unseen it's almost always a dead give-away since the newer dimensions are different and there's the old right next to it to compare it to. You can also see if it perhaps was re-purposed from an old house which was torn down (nail-holes and imprints from where something used to connect). Also the nails and construction methods changed through they years. Even then you can never really be sure unless you are sure that it ain't old. If you can't spot the differences see if you can find an old retired carpenter or builder who spent their career in that area- they will know and have seen things that will speak volumes to them which may not be apparent to you.

Kudos on keeping the originality where you can- once history is lost it is rarely regained.

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