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Reality check! Re: buying a ( wrecked) old house

Help! My husband and I are deliberating over the purchase of an old house, and have it down to 2: the first is a beautiful 1812 row house in perfect shape, completely restored. The second is a disaster: a huge, rambling 1880 brick detached house in complete disrepair. My question is this: ( and I apologize for the generality of this query)the house has visible water damage. The ceilings have been wallpapered and the paper is hanging down, in shreds, from the water. There are large cracks in the ceilings. The kitchen and bathrooms need to be gutted ( there are 4 bathrooms). My husband thinks "all this" can be done for $200,000 ( The house is in Eastern PA) I say he is crazy. Any advice?

Re: Reality check! Re: buying a ( wrecked) old house

With any home purchase I strongly recommend a pre-purchase inspection be done by someone qualified / certified.

As well it's always a good idea to have a search performed regarding "permits" being issued and inspected by the municipal building department for any home that has had work done to it.

This way you have an opportunity for identifying issues that may exist prior to the purchase .... rather than after.

This would still be the case with the home that is "restored".

The other fixer upper home you mention definitely should be inspected by someone qualified/certified.

Being sight unseen and from what you've described so far would indicate there has been neglect over the years. It would seem there is some major issues that can be seen and with all old homes that have been neglected you will definitely encounter more issues that aren't seen until you open things up.

Also homes like this will likely need to be brought up to current building codes for the electrical , plumbing , insulation , etc..
There is always the " might as well" things that come up as well as the unforeseen things mentioned earlier.

If you are going to be living in the home while working on it ... be prepared for plenty of dust and mess , inconvenience ,stress .... also know as "divorce dust".

Without knowing the particulars as to your situation , if there are historic restrictions , the condition of the home , etc. .... you have to consider .... would you be better off purchasing a home you can simply move into and put your efforts and money into decorating the place for you.

Or ....

Moving to a home that you need to be prepared for the long haul of guaranteed issues , dust , mess , inconvenience , stress , etc..

Just a thought.:)

Re: Reality check! Re: buying a ( wrecked) old house

Besides getting an inspection you should talk to a reputable contractor about the needed repairs. If you are seriously considering buying the fixer upper you should know how much it is going to cost to fix it before you make the offer. And be aware that you will probably go over budget by at least 10%. Be willing to pay for his/her advise. It might cost you a whole lot more to fix it up than you thought. And fixing it up will be stressful.

Re: Reality check! Re: buying a ( wrecked) old house

I agree with getting and inspection and some estimates. Generally speaking, restoration of an old house in such a condition costs more than just building costs. You have to add demolition cost and disposal. Re pointing the brick may negate the cost savings of having existing structural walls. Construction costs are higher because your dealing with dimensional lumber of a different sizes than the original and contending with a house that has settled and more than likely out of square. Living in a house while this is being done has caused many a divorce. And if you are hiring the work done, I think the $200,000 is probably half of what it'll end up costing. If you're doing it yourself it may be possible to be on budget if you survive. I hate to be so pessimistic, but having gone through the process with three houses I just want you to understand what you're getting into. It's very rewarding but takes a great deal of dedication. good humor. and being able to handle disappointments.

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