Monday, February 17, 2014

Ten Tips to Consider When Buying a Minnesota Vintage Home

Vintage homes are very prevalent throughout the Minneapolis and St Paul metro area. Whether in a big city or small community, there are many homes that come on the market that were built at the turn of the century...20th Century that is. To own a piece of history can be a powerful draw to home buyers. Some like the history and some fall in love with the unique rooms, window sizes, dormers, front porches, attics, stone fireplaces and hand crafted woodwork. Finding an affordable vintage home that has been properly maintained and updated can be challenge. Sometimes the search can take a home buyer across the Twin Cities metro area from MacGroveland or Highland areas in St. Paul to homes along the St. Croix River in Stillwater to quaint neighborhoods in North St. Paul. And there are acreage properties with classic farm and vintage barns scattered throughout Anoka and Washington county too.
There are historic homes in every style and price point in the north and east Twin Cities Metro. Whether you seek a lovely old duplex, traditional two story or grand Victorian mansion (the original executive home), there are some key considerations in purchasing a vintage home.
  1. Updated with Style—Not current style but did the updates reflect the style of the era when the vintage home was originally constructed. If the updates to the home do not blend well with original home, the value of the home can be compromised.
  2. Upgraded Plumbing and Electrical—If the furnace resembles and octopus and you need fuses for the electrical panel, there will be major updates required to the home at some time in the future. 
  3. Charming Windows—Decorative leaded glass and stained glass windows are beautiful. Many vintage homes will not only have beautiful window details but often there will be odd sized windows too. While this adds to the charm, it costs to have custom windows replaced. 
  4. Odd Sized Doors—Just like with the windows, often doors are not a standard size. This can lead to additional expense when repairing and/or replacing a door as it will have to be cut to measure. 
  5. Mouldings & Trim—Beautiful woodwork can be one of the attractions of a vintage home but like other features, mouldings, columns and wood trims were often custom. These can be irreplaceable if damaged. Yes, almost anything can be replaced but the cost would be astronomical to have replaced with the same quality of hand workmanship.
  6. A Good Foundation—When homes were constructed a century ago, there wasn’t a building code or city inspector. Often a corner of a home would be a “root” cellar without a foundation wall or floor. Sometimes the builder would just skim a thin layer of cement over the wall to make it look nice rather than use cement blocks. Though they have stood fordecades, walls can deteriorate over time. 
  7. Garages and Sheds—Very few families owned cars or the lawn equipment we require today so when vintage houses were constructed there often weren’t garages. Look closely at any older detached garage as many can be unstable. Finding a vintage home with an attached garage means it was probably added on as a remodel. If this is the case, make certain it fits well with the existing structure of the home. 
  8. Closets—Homes in the early 1900’s were insured by the number of doors so bedrooms were often constructed without closets. Some closets or dressers were added later under the eaves in the upstairs of a home. Because people did not have the extensive wardrobes that we have today, closets were much smaller than what is expected today. 
  9. Original Hardwood Flooring—Properly refinished and maintained, vintage hardwood can be extremely beautiful and a top feature of the home. If the home has carpeting, what is the best way to check to see if the flooring underneath is hardwood ? Start by opening a closet or check the edge of the floor under a vent for clues as to what might be underneath.
  10. Fireplaces and Chimneys—While beautiful and a focal point, be certain to have any original brick or stone fireplace inspected by a professional chimney expert prior to purchase. Over time bricks can loosen and linings crack which can be costly to repair.
This list is not all inclusive but a starting point of things to consider when searching for a vintage house to call home. The charm of a historical home is that it was crafted by hand and not necessarily perfectly constructed.

Copyright 2014