There are many beautiful homes in and around Tacoma and some of my very favorites (and of course I may be a little biased) are in the North Slope Historic District. As an owner of a really old home I have to keep reminding myself that with all the beauty and history, there is this one really big thing that often looms in the corners of every square inch of my property; it’s called MAINTENANCE.
Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone away from buying an older home because I am a serious lover of anything old…except milk. I am, however, here to inform you of some things you may want to be aware of when you fall in love with something that is, well, how do I say it? Okay, old.
Here are some things that I have found to happen to these awesomely charming homes or more specifically, a home built in 1905 that I knew I just had to have (like a pair of black patent leather pumps with red soles):
Settling: Think of it like an old man with a cane who is slightly hunched over—it’s old, and it will possibly slope a little through time but its pillars are an amazing support.
Plumbing: Again, think of it as an old man…yes, the pipes leak a little and may need to be replaced at some point but thank goodness there are replacement options.
Heating: This one is interesting so think of it as having a huge trash bag full of dollar bills and then opening the bag on top of the Space Needle and watching that money float away in every direction. If you are familiar with landmarks around Tacoma, then play the same scenario at Stadium Bowl. Houses simply were not insulated well, so planning a budget for energy efficiency is a must and a heat pump will definitely pay for itself.
Windows: Ah, the question that always arises with my clients—should we replace the windows? Wood wrapped windows with the original ‘wavy’ glass are hard to come by and there are restoration companies around Tacoma that focus specifically on preserving these. Now I may sound like a grandma but they just don’t make them like they used to so please try to save them…. and on a personal note, if you are on a historic register, you most likely are not able to take them out—and the window Nazis are everywhere.
Electrical: Fact: it will have to be replaced for insurance as well as safety reasons. The old knob and tube, while fascinating to look at, will need to go. Look at it this way, when the original system was put in, or even the ‘updated’ one from the 50’s, we didn’t have microwaves, TV’s in every room, massive stereo systems and stoves that could cook five turkeys, two chickens and a whole side of ribs. If you can’t do it all at once, try a couple rooms at a time.
Paint: I guess the best way to describe this is like having a manicure: it takes constant maintenance to replace the chipped polish and sometimes just putting a new coat over the old coat may just make it worse. Oh, and make sure you do it at the right temperature and right time of year because it may dry wrong and we all know how that turns out on our nails….yikes.
I know this may seem like a lot, but if you truly love an old home, just be prepared to care for it and give it the attention it deserves. Inside those old bones lies a lot of history, craftsmanship and memories. And as far as mine is concerned and when all is said and done, I love this ol’ house.