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To buy or not to buy? Advice?

Thanks in advance!

I'm about to offer on a house in the Historic District of Norwich, CT. The neighborhood is full of large and unique historic homes, all in much better condition than this one.

Here it is: http://www.trulia.com/property/1036343848--Norwich-CT-06360

A. copper pipes are missing
--- needs to be repiped to baseboard in addition and radiators in main house

B. needs roof repairs

C. bank states mold is present
--- a professional hasn't been in yet but I'd rather gut to be safe regardless
--- would that be a dealbreaker for you, even with gutting in the budget?

D. needs painting eventually
--- I assume about 10 - 15k for a house of this size

Cosmetics aside, do you think the cost of gutting, repiping the heating system and repairing the roof are worth it? I have time and a rehab loan with about 100k to play with up front (more later). Don't worry about appraisal or assessment value.

Would you take it on? Most work will be professional but my family has flipped several homes and is familiar with the minor cosmetics, minor wiring, installing kitchens and bathrooms, etc so I know what I'm getting in to,

I'd like to live here after finish for a few years so this is not a flip. With all the square footage, I think it would be a spacious and interesting property to own once it was completed.

Thank you for reading and your thoughts!

Re: To buy or not to buy? Advice?

We own an old Queen Ann victorian so we know the ins and outs. First - Plan on spending more money then you think you will. The painting will uncover some carpentry repair - more then you think - especially with a house with the ornate features this has. The height of the house is a problem. The painters or yourself will have to buy or rent scaffolding. All of this adds to the cost. The roof repairs or reroofing will also be labor intensive.

The mold is very solvable. Fix the leaks and solve the mold problem so not necessary to gut the entire house. Find the mold, fix the leaks, solve the problem. If you gut and drywall mold loves paper so drywalling does not solve the problem.

Make a low offer for the house. It is obviously a bank owned property. A Realtor once told me; "You can't insult the bank with a low offer". You can insult a private owner but a bank is in the business of lending money - not owning and maintaining property. They want to get properties off of their books. Point out the deficiencies to them; Lead paint, mold, leaks, roof repair or replacement, plumbing, old electrical, the historic distric issue, old leaky windows, and any other deficiencies that you can find.

The lead paint issue is potentially huge. Any commercial painter will have to be a lead paint certified contractor and follow certain tedious procedures which will up the cost considerably. Just be aware that there is far more costs then you think there are because of the size and ornateness of the house.

Re: To buy or not to buy? Advice?

From the limited photos, it looks to be in decent shape. The cost of acquisition seems low. Don't know anything about the location; it determines above almost anything else what the top finished price can be.
The place is fairly huge, and has a lot of nice but potentially expensive to restore details.
The lead liability could be huge, and require kissing a lot of the beloved details goodbye.
The stripping of the copper kind of opens up the possibility of an all-new HVAc systems and of course replumbing (relocating?) all the Baths and the kitchen.
Looks to me like it was commercial-use in the last incarnation. What's the zoning in the area?
Looks like it could make a spectacular single-family home, but does the area support such a use, or is it better suited to multi-family? I could see two extremely cool apartments in this building, too.
A singe family residence of this size is going to take a large input of capital to pull off. You could easily spend $500+. And it could be that it would then be worth much more than the investment, but just as likely not.
Decide with your head, not your heart.

Timothy Miller
Re: To buy or not to buy? Advice?

Howdy , Whats the lot worth? Offer that $.

But better idea would be to first- have a home inspection by a very good inspector -ideally a structural engineer. The report should be compiled after several hours of inspection including photos of the damages- pay $800+ Based on it then obtain contractors bids for the repairs. roof, plumbing, electrical, and hvac. Asbestos remediation, mold remediation, foundation issues an on an on. Then get the sales price for comparable properties that do not need repairs. Now subtract the contractors bids and offer the balance attach a copy of the report and bids with the offer... Good luck.

Note once you have what it will cost to bring the home up to good condition you can then ask yourself do i want to purchase and pay 6 to 12 months before i can live in it. Then why not just buy a property that is not
distressed at the discounted currant market price....

Re: To buy or not to buy? Advice?

From the pictures it looks to be in good shape. Market for historic homes is limited, and those seeking them want them as close to original as possible, there fore I would recommend gutting no more than is absolutely necessary. As mentioned above asbestos and lead could be a costly problem but may have been taken care with the last updates.


Re: To buy or not to buy? Advice?

Thanks for all the AWESOME advice!

I saw the property this morning, and I agree that the decision will probably come down to price. I'll bring a contractor, mold spe******t, inspector and see what it's going to cost (with overages).

There's no bathroom on the second floor with the bedrooms. Just several large bedrooms that are original. I can't imagine where the bathroom went, since the first floor bathroom was added on.

Agreed about painting. We have an excellent painter in RI who will do a quality job and take care with the lead.

Copper will be a mystery for now; the downspouts are gone, and it's hard to see where it's gone in the house. They were cut at the floors and pulled downwards. The radiators are still there in place and the third floor has baseboard which wasn't touched. Seems like a quick and dirty job.

Basement was entirely moldy but dry. It's on a hill so it didn't seem moist. Perhaps a byproduct of losing the heating system? It's finished, but, because of the space, I'd probably gut the basement for now while the mold problem is solved.

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