BUYING A HISTORIC HOME
Although you may be buying a historic home there are some things you should consider:
HOMES AND NEIGHBORHOODS
ON HISTORIC REGISTER
If you are buying a home on the historic register or within a designated historic area (in the Skykomish Valley, Snohomish is the only community with guidelines on historic homes), there may be guidelines to follow in terms of landscaping, outdoor maintenance, materials that can be used to renovate, interior renovations, and even paint color parameters. Make sure you brush up on your knowledge before buying to keep from being surprised down the road.
In addition to being aware of the above guidelines if the home is on the historic register, interior renovations can be more…let’s say “interesting”…when you are remodeling something that might have been renovated several times before by folks with varying knowledge of building codes. Remember, our building codes now are more-stringent than they were 100+ years ago, so you never know exactly what you may find. Building contingency funds into a renovation budget is critical for older homes.
There may be more maintenance with an older home. More years of bugs, wintery wet weather, and even ground shifting can take their toll. Old plumbing, electrical, and general system failures may also cause issues if they have not been updated.
Many homes used to be heated with oil (and some still are!). Verify if an oil tank exists on the property and if so, has it been property and officially decommissioned? Has it been removed? Do your due diligence!
I always recommend buyers get inspections, but you may want to consider a few different types of inspections depending on the home – general, which normally includes pest, and roof, geotech if on a hillside, sewer/septic line inspection, just to name a few. Each property is different and I have resources to help.
And of course, there may be issues with hazardous materials that were used decades ago in building that are not used now – namely lead paint, lead pipes, and asbestos. These may be covered up now and tough to detect. However, leave room in renovation budget to deal with unexpected things like this.
I am not trying to scare you – living in a historic property and becoming its temporary steward is very special. I just want you to be prepared and learn a bit about what you may encounter before becoming an owner.