Historic Homes Are Beautiful, But Should You Buy One? Here Are Some Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide

For some people, there’s a large budget involved and the admirable goal of preserving an architectural house, no matter what the expense. So how do you make a decision to move forward, when your budget is limited? Well, the first step is that you must know your budget going in. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are, if you’re asking if you can afford it or not, you probably can’t.

Area of the home

If the home falls into the historical neighborhood, the design and permit processes can be lengthier and more expensive, and using the required historically correct materials can add significantly to the cost. But a historically protected neighborhood and architecturally special homes will more often than not, mean prices that are going to rise each year. 


The climate, and number of people to be occupying the home will be a huge factor. You should choose the best season for renovations, as it will make a large difference.

Foundation issues

Some things are simply impossible to replace. For example, elaborate molding can be difficult to replace, or copy. It can also be frightfully expensive. Other elaborate details, such as floors or millwork may prove hard to find or replace. Read on: Pros and Cons of Owning a Home in a Historic District – Zillow 

Lead based paint

Most states have laws regarding lead based paint. Most older homes used this type of paint. You will have to check and make sure that the home doesn’t include lead based paint, and if it does, you’re going to have to correct it. This process is not cheap, and you cannot cut corners.

Safety issues

There can be many environmental issues regarding homes, that were not an issue back in the day. One of these, is asbestos. Asbestos was used in  was almost all aspects of the homes, including insulation, siding, or the floors. This must be removed, and there is no way of getting around that. It will also increase the value of the home in the future, should you decide to sell. Further reading: Is Buying a Historic Home Right for You? – Zillow 

Electrical work

Older homes often do not have safety devices and older wiring and some electrical panels can create a fire hazard as well. Upgrading to a modern grounded system can be quite expensive.


Piping should be replaced after about 40 years to prevent leaking, and maintain good quality. prevent leaking. One way to save money if you have to fix the plumbing, is to keep the fixtures in the same location instead, for example, moving a toilet to the other side of the bathroom. 


Whenever possible, plan construction to save and take advantage of older, healthy trees and plants. They’re irreplaceable, and they add value to your home.


Be sure that the window frames aren’t rotting, for example. If they are, you’ll have to replace them, or put a lot of money into saving or copying them. The architecture of windows on older homes is very important, and lays the ground for the character of the home. See: Should You Buy The Money-Pit?


Older homes often shingle roofs. If you’re thinking about replacing the roof, remember that the structure may need to be reinforced to accommodate the weight of the new material, or may need to have ventilation added.


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