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Ormond

01:53PM | 03/05/05
Member Since: 03/04/05
8 lifetime posts
Bvrealestate
I have just made an offer on 123 year old brick rowhouse - it wasn't practical but I fell in love (and its in a very nice inner city neighborhood). I am having it appraised/inspected. Inside, everything is old but not 123 years old. My question is, barring any structral problems (boy lets hope we don't find them) what is the average life of a brick home? foundation? I am single (and a teacher) so I'm concerned financing Major structural issues (inside I'm happy to keep tinkering away at old "llittle stuff" - grew up on a farm - I can lay carpet ect. ) I'm hoping I will grow old in this home (I'm 36) - is that unrealistic? Its age is in keeping with the mostly "restored" neighborhood - the bulk seem to be roughly 100-112 years old. Its a beautiful neighborhood - but I'm wondering if I may be buying "too old" for anyone on a budget?


k2

05:15PM | 03/05/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
....Sounds like a labor of love to me!

Nothing wrong with that. I have owned homes both new and old (OK, not THAT old); the new ones aren't free of problems either.

I am glad to hear that it's in a restored neighborhood. I believe in the old "Location, location, location" slogan (these being the most important 3 things in real estate).

If you have those three things, the rest of it often falls into place.

Sure, it will cost you some along the way. It may not have the best insulation in the world. Things will need to be replaced. You'll be able to call some things "character" and leave them alone.

36? Hey, that's young :) Laying carpet? Pretty good skill--those that know me on this forum know that I wouldn't touch that one for a DIY project! Average 'old age' of a brick home? I don't know, but you see some that are older than that (such as in the Northeast). Have you had a good inspection?

As for buying 'on a budget', hey, don't we all? The one thing I keep coming back to (related to "location, location, location") is...are you buying the neighborhood? Is it the cheapest house in the best neighborhood you can afford? Is it safe to walk around at night--or is there traffic, noise, etc.?

As for "labor of love"...are you willing to forgo the occasional vacation for remodeling and remodeling expense? How about weekend and evening time?

As I write this...you probably wonder; am I "for" or "against." Of course I can't answer for you....but I can maybe get you to look at the potential purchase a bit more objectively. It is a BIG purchase. One should look at any home purchase accordingly.

Regards,

-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum

http://www.bobvila.com/BBS/Miscellaneous

Ormond

06:20PM | 03/05/05
Member Since: 03/04/05
8 lifetime posts
Yup --

the old rowhouse is in a strong neighborhood (property is selling over 30% higher than last year, many restored historic homes and the builders are planning to fill the vacant lots!)

I have made an offer and put in my "earnest" money (the home is cheaper than the other properties - as it is a fee simple -- i.e. it has been divded into two properties, divided by a firewall that runs basement to roof -- I would own everything roof to basement - and have a private yard) - but MAJOR roof or structural issues will be something I will need to work with the other owner on?

I will have the property inspected in the next 10 days (I can pull out if major issues arise) but I am more concerned with simple, but major aging issues with the brick/foundation over the next 10-20 years? I can't seemed to find any literature on how bricks/foundations on these old mid 1800's homes hold up?

Any idea's where I might research something like this?


Ormond

06:26PM | 03/05/05
Member Since: 03/04/05
8 lifetime posts
hey k2in CO-

I launched into my resonpse and forgot to say thanks!! (sigh) first time homeowners jitters -- please excuse the momentary lapse in manners!

k2

09:16AM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
("Thanks" was on the title of your first message! And You're Welcome, Ormond!) And, I understand those homebuying jitters!

I am glad you will have the property inspected. Don't be afraid to bring in specialists, even an engineer, contractor, or ?. Remember that even DIY projects can be a lot more expensive than you anticipate.

Usually there's an inspection contingency in your contract. If you start hearing that it'll cost a ton of money to fix something, be very cautious about proceeding. Yes, at that point, the owner might want to start bargaining to keep the deal alive (remember that just about everything in real estate is negotiable!) After all, he might have the same issues with the next buyer. Of course in a "hot" market, you have less negotiating room. But at least you should have an "out."

As for researching such issues, hmmmm: I normally suggest your local library. But in this case I'd much rather know about the specific property than properties in general. I'd think there's just so many variables in construction, etc.

You say you're buying one property that's been divided into two? So it's been converted (into like a townhouse)? If it were me, I'd want an attorney to look over the title commitment and make sure all is clear, ownershipwise. Does everything make sense--like property lines, and the like?

If I could suggest anything else, it would be to stay "detached" during this process....don't fall in love too much. It could cost you.

And hopefully, Ormond, everything will go great and we'll have a "virtual" toast to you and your new home!

Regards,

-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum

http://www.bobvila.com/BBS/Miscellaneous

Glenn Good

01:57PM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 09/10/03
320 lifetime posts
Being a home inspector myself, with over 34 years in construction as well, I can tell you that brick and any concrete that is in good condition today should remain so for quite some time to come. In addition any settlement of the foundation and house should already have taken place (unlike a new home).

The main concern I would have would be in the wood structure. If it is in good condition you should have little to worry about. Another advantage to older houses is the wood is no longer desirable to termites and many other insects. Water damage and/or rot are the main concerns here.

I restored a church in Raleigh, NC that is well over 180 years old and the brick and foundation are still in good structural condition, and should be for many years to come. Some old buildings have problems with weakened mortar between the bricks. This is easy for a home inspector to spot and may be of some concern if found.

Be sure your home inspector is certified.

Good luck with your purchase and I hope all goes well with the inspection.

Glenn

Moderator: Construction Systems, Foundations, and Masonry & Stone

For more information about me and/or my qualifications please visit my website at:

www.consultationdirect.com

Ormond

04:28PM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 03/04/05
8 lifetime posts
Indeed there is a new development. I went back to reinspect the exterior carefully -- there are issues: one wall is visibly "bowed" or "buckling" (not at the foudation but up towards the second floor?) and many of the bricks are cracked/crumbling (I see some masonry work has been done.)

I am having an inspector look at the house this week (my realtor is arranging it -- she says its a company she really trusts and this fellow has extensive experience with Hisotric homes).

I will check that he is certified (good tip) and might even pop for two inspections if need be. You'd think I would bow out at this piont -- but, alas, I LOVE this building. I'm not sure what I'm hoping he will say - the foundation seems solid, but it seems a stretch that a bowed wall can be an easy or economic fix (at least not on a single teachers salary).

Here's hopin' -- thanks so much for the advice!

k2

04:41PM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
...for responding!

Interesting, about the bowed wall. I defer to Glenn with his expertise on these matters. But things that come to mind might be (1) weight of the roof, and (2) older structures wouldn't meet today's code; material might've been undersized.

Come to think of it, codes now are stronger than they were just 20 or 30 years ago. I've sure had some issues with my own 24 year old home.

But there is no perfect home, as I said. I had a new home once; was maybe the worst home I ever owned.

Good luck; please keep us posted!

Thanks again Glenn, for your opinion here!

Regards,

-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum

http://www.bobvila.com/BBS/Miscellaneous

k2

04:45PM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Just for what it's worth. Mentioned the "bowed wall" to my wife. Her opinion, in one word: "Run!"

Hmmmm; kind of speaks volumes...

Regards,

-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum

http://www.bobvila.com/BBS/Miscellaneous

Glenn Good

05:39PM | 03/06/05
Member Since: 09/10/03
320 lifetime posts
The bowed walls could be from a number of things:

• Weak or Deteriorating mortar

• Lack of wall ties (or too few)

• Foundation settlement (would normally be accompanied by cracking)

• Wood structure failing behind the brick veneer

Your home inspector will be the best judge of what the cause may be or he may suggest you contact a structural engineer or other contractor to assess the damage. If it is only one area of the wall and the problem is not too severe it may be worth repairing. It may mean redoing the brick veneer in the bowed area.

The inspection report could also give you leverage to get the asking price lowered enough to make it worth your while.

Glenn

Moderator: Construction Systems, Foundations, and Masonry & Stone

For more information about me and/or my qualifications please visit my website at:

www.consultationdirect.com
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