All homes need maintenance and repairs. The older the home is, the more it needs. Our house was built in 1936. A 76 year old house needs more maintenance than you can tell from the exterior or maybe even by visual inspection.
All houses “settle”, but this one has settled beyond the normal mark and needs foundation repair and the home leveled. Further, the original part of the house was built in 1936 and the rest was built as additions during the 1970’s. They added a large bathroom, large kitchen, and a bedroom along the back of the house. Continuing from the bedroom, and turning the cornerr to form an “L” shaped addition to the house, they also added a master bath and bedroom, and a extra large two car garage. Unfortunately, the work was not done with the care and craftsmanship one would expect. The previous owners did the work themselves to save money. This resulted in poor design and construction.
The roof over the rear addition is low, which means the ceiling is also low. People over 6 feet tall have very little clearance. Even small light fixtures are in their way. Forget ceiling fans or other decorative light fixtures. The kitchen and dining room have poorly installed recessed florescent lights. The low ceiling and inadequate ventilation causes the kitchen to be too hot when cooking.
The bathroom has no ventilation at all. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The do-it-your-selfer decided a fan in the summer and a heated fan in the winter was good enough. It doesn’t work the way he planned. The bathroom floor is cold in the winter and warm in the summer.
Every floor in the house is like that. There is no moisture barrier and no insulation under the floor to prevent the loss of heating and cooling. Because the sub-floor is poorly constructed, it has been rotting away. Some of the floor became unsafe in the last year and we have had to patch them in an effort to stave off the large repair bills all at once. (See the post “Repairing Sub-floors is Not for Sissies“.)
As if needing about 2,000 square feet of sub-floor replaced wasn’t enough to pay for, there are issues with the electrical and plumbing. There are several electrical outlets that worked one day, and then didn’t work any longer. We suspect this is the direct result of wildlife entering the walls from below the house and tearing up or shorting out the wires as they go. (For more on the animal saga see the post “Wilderness in the Walls“.) Electrical junction boxes are improperly wired or overloaded. This previous home owner even strung Romex cable across the back yard 100 feet to the shed and barn. It is barely covered with an inch of sand in some places and above ground in others. The plumbing is substandard, the water pipes are pulled too tight and break, and are buried too close to the surface of the ground.
Clearly, we have a vast amount of work to do. If we hired it done it would cost well over $100,000. We might as well build a new house for that money. This is a great place, on a great piece of land. There is a pond just big enough to fish and enjoy the view. It’s peaceful out here. Most of the neighbor’s kids are grown too. We have more time than we do money. The kids are raised, so that not an issue. We have decided to repair and replace as we go.