Save That Old House and Make It a Home

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

One of my favorite pastimes is to read magazine articles or stories on the Internet about families who have taken an old house and gradually brought it back to its former glory while making it their home. Many people have the ability to look at an old house that is in need of extensive work and see what it once was and what it can become again. All it takes is a little time, patience, dedication, money spent over time, and a whole lot of sweat equity. A young family can end up with a home that would have been far beyond their means when they were starting out if they have the patience to live in the home while they remodel it perhaps only a room a year as they have time and money.

I recently read a story about a couple that did just that over the last several decades. The house they did it with is well beyond the means of most of us, but it still shows what is possible over the years. I have reread the article a few times as I love the style of the home, and the location isn’t bad, either. Of course, the house doesn’t have to be of this magnitude, it can be done with a six-room farmhouse, and if you are involved in the renovation every step of the way, you will be just as proud of the finished home as the people who renovated the Pacific Mansion.

I read two more articles today that are more along the scale that most of us can achieve. The first is a beautiful old farmhouse in southern Virginia, a work-in-progress that is becoming a dream home, and the second is a 19th-century log home in Wisconsin that a young couple brought back to its former splendor with some modern conveniences.

But I don’t have to read about it, I see it every day. I live in the center of the wonderful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and as I take my daily bicycle ride along the country roads, I pass homes that are 100 or 200 years old that young families are now creating their own memories in. Some of the homes are awaiting renovations as time and money become available, some are works in progress, and some are almost complete.

One more thing to keep in mind. If you are considering purchasing an old house and renovating it over time, the various tax credits available now could come in handy.