Sunday, October 16, 2011


My wife and I just purchased this beautiful center chimney colonial.  Our move-in date was October 1st and I've only now had the chance to start this blog.  My intention is to document our struggles, sweat, tears, blood and joy with this home while not only being a novice in antique homes but also first time home buyers.

We started our search after taking a tour through a local historic museum.  We just fell in love with the amount of character present in the home and the amount of history.  There is something vastly unique about an antique home that you just cannot find in the money making developments of today's homes (aka "cookie cutter").  These antique homes were built to last for the family, not necessarily to make money.  And since they are still around after 200+ years, you know that it was built quite well.

Like most couples, we were glued to HGTV watching shows like Holmes on Homes, House Hunters and First Time Home Buyers.  We learned a bit from these shows, especially from Holmes on Homes.  We kept seeing the horror stories of freezing pipes, leaking windows with numerous water problems, ripped off home owners, etc etc.  And all this from brand new homes with no character.  That's when we started to think, what is the point?  You invest money in a home that should be perfect, only to find that not only is it not perfect, it's going to cost you more to fix.  Sure, you can have the developer fix their mistakes, but hey, they're in it for the money, right?  Besides, why would I trust them to do it right a second or even a third time when it should have been done right the first time.  Unfortunately, cutting corners is the game plan and finding a reliable contractor is hard to do.  If we're going to be spending money eventually, why not spend it on a building that is apart of history?

So our search began.  We looked at several homes throughout the New England area.  Though the market is ripe for buyers, sellers are unwilling to sell or settle due to being "underwater" and the selection of historic homes are few.  We saw immaculate homes, homes needing restoration, and ones that should have been torn down years ago.  One particular was the "Rose Red" of antique homes.  This home was an 18th century colonial with the interior stripped and 60's pine paneling put up with floor boards that were obviously from the same period as the "new" walls.  Room after room after room was added.  It actually sickened me.

We first saw our home online back in February of 2011 and it was listed at $289,000.  We put in an offer in March which was rejected.  Then the home owner took it off the market in June and re-listed it in July with another agent for less than what our offer was.  Go figure?  I saved the real estate listing photos from both realtors, the photos can be seen here.

We later found out that this home was on the market, on and off, going on three years with a starting price in the $360,000 range.  Each re-listing was less than the previous.  The home owner was in her late seventies and wanted to downsize but was unable to find a buyer, until we came along.  After seeing the professional photos taken by her new agent, we jumped on the chance to make an offer again.  Our offer was finally accepted at 5:54 PM on July 8th and here we are!

We knew that an antique home required special eyes and we used a home inspection company with expertise in antique homes.  According to them, our home was in good condition (for its age) with a few issues standing out. 

1)  There is radon in the basement that had a reading of 5.0, 4.0 is the federal EPA limit.
2)  There is evidence of current Powder Post Beetle damage in the basement.
3)  There are several beams that require replacement due to the Powder Post Beetle activity.

We asked the seller to bring in a licensed contractor who specializes in these homes to create an estimate for repair.  We gave her a list of contractors supplied by a state funded historical society, which she ignored.  Three weeks later, an estimate was given in the amount of $2,800 that was made by a contractor that does not have true experience with post and beam construction.  We were quite shocked at the estimate and  requested a contractor of our own choosing to come in (from the same list we sent her).  Our chosen contractor charged a $345 fee to view and estimate the property, which was split with the seller.  This final estimate was $13,320.  Sometimes it pays to spend a little to get the right person.  After much negotiation, the final was:

$275,000 selling price with the seller paying for:

1) Repair of damaged beams in basement.
2) Installation of a radon mitigation system in the basement.
3) The spraying for powder post beetles.

The home was built in circa 1760.  I do not know more than that at this point since the local historical society is lacking in specific documentation for this home.  We plan on making a trip to view the original records in town hall when time presents itself.