Whenever I have had a professional carpenter, plumber, electrician, or whoever over to the house, every one of them inevitably says, “Oh, new homes have problems, too!” That always surprised me because I assumed that new construction was more durable, cleaner, better built with better technology. According to many professionals out there, this is not true. I am appalled, because newer homes *should* be built better. With newer homes, you don’t have to hack into support beams to retrofit plumbing pipes or electric wiring. New homes are insulated and already have coaxial cable and new windows and bright, shiny roof decking with no mold. What makes new homes so shabby? Poor craftsmanship?
Old homes are built well, I’ll give you that. 150-year old houses were built at a time before the spotted owl goons could shut down entire forests, when home builders could carve 12-inch beams out of home grown oak and walnut woods.
But when it comes to “modern” comforts (like central heating!), old homes are woefully lacking. If you have always loved in a newly built home, you don’t have any idea of the drafts that blow your napkins off the table, of the icicles that form on the INSIDE of the house… here are a couple typical Old House problems. I also offer my opinions and/or advice, for kicks.
Old homes almost always have critters– bats, squirrels, mice, chinch bugs, ants, carpenter bees. We have pretty much seen it all. An owl in the hot water exhaust pipe, possums in the basement, raccoons in the garage, bats in the house, mice and honeybees in the walls…. yep. How i wish I had been blogging when we discovered bees in the wall! One day, I looked out my window and saw a tornado-like swarm of bees swirling around an upstairs window. All of a sudden, the wall was covered in bees, all squirming to enter a rather large hole in the siding. I found out later that some brilliant National Grid guy had replaced my power cable anchor, screwing in the new anchor to a new area on the siding but NEVER CLOSING UP THE ORIGINAL HOLE. It became a nesting place for all sorts of creatures.
We had no idea how to get rid of the bees…. when we pounded the wall in the bedroom, 20,000 bees erupted in angry buzzes. We eventually had to rip open the walls on a frosty autumn day (the bees were stupid in the cold). We vacuumed them up and tore out the honeycomb. A lot of the comb was still good, so we ate it.
Old homes have mold. I HATE mold. Mold comes from leaks, and old homes have lots of leaks. We’ve had our share of mold from chimney leaks, ice dams, holes in the walls, etc. Mold is tough to remove. I quit trying to clean it when it invaded the wall cavities– instead, I gutted the living room and replaced everything. Sometimes, I still smell the faint odor of mold…
3. Plaster dust
As long as there’s 1 square foot of plaster in an old house, the place will be dusty. Eep, I dislike plaster very much. I dislike dusting, too…
4. Crooked walls, crooked floors
This doesn’t bother me as much, unless I am renovating and I need to somehow wedge a perfect 90 degree section of drywall into a 85 degree corner! I don’t mind that all my pictures tilt a little. I do not like my bookshelves tilting so noticeably, though!
5. Bouncy floors
Bouncy floors make me nervous. There’s something very creepy about bopping up and down in my desk chair when one of the kids walks by. So far, the floor seems none of the worse for wear, but I have detected some cracks in the joists below. If I ever get another house, maybe I’ll choose one that has solid concrete floors. ANYTHING that doesn’t feel like you’re walking on a waterbed as you cross the room, lol.
What could you add to the list? I’m sure there are more quaint little things about old homes that I have missed here. Feel free to add your own two cents.
In the next post or so, I’ll talk about the benefits of living in an old house!