A Couple of Random Thoughts on Old Houses

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, Old House History

I took a short drive today. The leaves are at their peak in my area and the colors are beautiful. I live in a valley between two mountain ranges and I have always enjoyed the view of the changing colors on the mountains as the morning and afternoon sun hits the leaves.

As I was driving along I passed a few new homes that were nearing completion. They were nice homes, very large, and I’m sure very expensive. In my area, and with the current state of the housing market, I would say they were probably in the $800,000 to $1,000,000 range. I also passed a number of small farms and old houses with a couple of acres for sale, and I know these properties have been for sale for a long time, maybe for more than a year. Homes are staying on the market for a months in this area. It occurred to me, why would someone spend almost $1,000,000 to build a new home when there are so many nice older houses for sale that I am sure the sellers would be willing to negotiate on quite a bit.

I built new homes for many years, but I have always lived in old houses. I was always proud of the new houses I built, the quality was always high, but to me they seemed sterile and without character. The buyers were happy with the homes, and some of them have been occupied for twenty years now, but when I drive past them now they still don’t have the character of many of the old houses I see languish on the market forever. I guess some people are new house people and some people are old house people.

Another thing that occurred to me while driving was that I never see barn advertising anymore. When I first moved to this area twenty years ago I used to see big barns with advertising painted on the sides facing the highway. I always found it quaint, and it kind of took me back in time to an era when things were simpler and less stressful, but I realized today that I don’t see them anymore. I don’t know if the barns have fallen down, or the advertising has been painted over, but they are definitely rare in this area now. I always found it sort of peaceful to see an old house with a barn off to the side, cattle and horses grazing, and on the side of the barn a faded advertisement. For some reason it never seemed as tacky as the countless billboards that line the highways, but I guess with progress they are gone forever now.


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  1. 4 Responses  to “A Couple of Random Thoughts on Old Houses”

  2. Aug 29, 2011
    Conrad, I understand the valid comment "they still don’t have the character of many of the old houses". I was in England a couple of years ago researching my ancestry and visiting my ancestral homes, most of which were built in the 14 and 1500's. They were still in use as residences and had "character", most were timber framed and brick and the timbers were Oak 12" thick or more. These houses were truly built to last, although I live in a fairly new home I would trade it for a 500 year home any day. To see some of my ancestral homes visit "http://tomcamp.org" and click on "History of Camp Houses"
  3. Mark
    Aug 29, 2011
    I too see zero appeal with new homes and would take a crumbling old home over a shiny new one any time. We're in the midst of restoring our third 1850's home and every time we have looked for a home we have always told our agents that we won't even consider anything less than 100 yrs old. That's their "break in" period and they are just ripe to occupy when they reach the century mark. But I must say I am glad not everyone thinks that way or finding an old home to buy would be even harder.
  4. Randall
    Aug 29, 2011
    Old houses all had their own unique character, now all that is made are track homes, community homes, and boring same designed cold e sac's. Most of the houses I drive by in my state just have old junk yards that used to be booming barns back in their prime. Marketing/advertising has changed a lot, but I still don't see why people wouldn't utilize an old barn like that. It would be cheap and if your company is the only ad on the barn it would definitely get noticed. May have to use that idea...
  5. Aug 29, 2011
    Love this post :) My husband and I realized while house hunting for our first home that we are most definitely "old house people". We chose quirky and old over expected and new and haven't looked back.