Old Houses versus New Houses


Greetings! You know I love to do drive bys of gorgeous old homes and lush neighborhoods. There is just something about those charming homes of yesteryear that just pull me right in! As we’ve been talking about the possibility in our family of moving to another area for my husband’s work, we’ve talked quite a bit about what kind of house we would choose next time. Since I am tired of moving, I would want to make sure I chose well so I could be settled somewhere for a long time to come.

I’m really considering the kind of life I would like to live for the next decade. Not just from the romantic side of me that loves beautiful things, but the practical side of me that wants to think and plan out what I am doing! I want to create margins of time and money in order life a balanced life. What kind of house we choose can affect so much of how we live our life.

I’ve always been smitten by the older houses, but am usually somewhat envious of people who buy quality new homes and don’t have to deal with all the fixing up and maintenance that we had do in our home. They can move in and start decorating instead of ripping down wallpaper and old plumbing pipes.

Even though I love the idea of restoring a home, it is expensive and time consuming. I wonder if an old house is the best use of our resources. But then, I’ve been reminded that newer homes are not maintenance free and the quality of many of the newer ones can necessitate more upkeep.

Ideally, I’d love to buy an older home and either be able to fix it up immediately upon purchase (inside and out) or buy one that has already been refurbished.

So, let’s discuss. I’d love your thoughts! Old house? New House? Refurbished old house? New house made to look old? Or how about a condo instead? Just wondering what you all like and what your experiences are. I haven’t lived in a new home since I was 7 years old so I’d love to know your experiences with new homes and for those of you old house lovers, I’d like to know why you choose them!

Some related links:

If you want to see some fun photo galleries of some of the best places to buy older homes, visit This Old House.

See my article on Curb Appeal mid-morning over at Blissfully Domestic today! Say hello while you are there!

Thanks to everyone who has asked about my daughter’s bridal shower, it went very well (all things considered!). If you want to keep up with my oh-so random little thoughts on life, be sure to check out what I am up to on Twitter, I’m a newbie there. If you want to read about my experience in packing up my daughter’s things for her life as a married woman, visit CWO this month!

Photos: Melissa Michaels

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Comments

  1. I am definitely with you on the drooling over the older houses. The architecture has such character to it and you can feel the pride of the craftsmanship put into it. But, I would want an older home that has updated plumbing and electrical. No rewiring for us! I don’t mind renovating on a small scale, but tearing out and putting in isn’t my idea of fun. Our current home was built in 1974 and is a one floor ranch style. It isn’t my dream house, but it is home to us :) We have lovely neighbors and a quiet neighborhood. It’s close to everything we need, including my husband’s work. We have started our renovations on the outside…the yard. When we bought it, the lawn was a uniform shade of beige and the landscaping consisted of three hideous bushes in inconvenient locations. It has taken us almost a year to get it where we want, but isn’t that the joy in being homeowners?

    Wow..I have rambled on about practically nothing..lol! TIme for me to go to bed!

    Anyway, we prefer to get a home that we can stamp with our own personality inside and out.

  2. I personally love the charm of older homes. We have had to move seven times in seventeen years due to my husband’s career. We have lived in older homes and also have built. Currently, we live in a 1965 ranch. We look at a lot of criteria when moving (charm of neighborhood, proximity to library, stores, walkability of neighborhood, parks, craftsmanship of home, commute to work, etc.). Out of all the homes we have lived in, my favorite was older–a 1927 Colonial. It had such beautiful details. We chose our existing home because of the hardwood floors, plaster walls, wood ceiling beams, crown moulding. Even though it was built in 1965, it was built in “cottage style”, which I love. As for the new home we built, it wasn’t without work. It needed landscaping and lacked the charm of a home that has been around for a while.

  3. My ultimate fantasy is a new house planted in an old neighborhood. That way you get the best of both worlds. We’ve had gorgeous old houses and gorgeous new houses, but I think new houses suit the way we live better than the old ones do.

  4. Old, old, old. I’ve always loved old homes and really any beautiful antique item that has history to it. There’s something about the “bones” of old homes that the new homes don’t possess..the feel is so different. I love the feeling of living in a home that has a history to it. A little bit of mystery, knowing another family/families have lived there.

    New homes are beautiful and have much less maintenance, but they lack that special nostalgic feeling for me!

    Fun post!

  5. Living in both new and older homes, I can relate to what your family is facing. We bought an older style home (cottage) I hated it at first, then slowly I fell in love with the cottage, least to say once again a job transfer and this time a brand new home built, I thought no more work redoing things, WRONG!
    I have learned I love the older homes, I think I want a new home but my dream is beautiful architecture, I want to think about the story the house to tell. I enjoyed the new home but I loved my older home! Blessings Diana

  6. I love that second house. It holds all the elements I love. Great drive by shootings.

  7. Oooh, this is a tough question. I really think it depends on the individual house. We had our house custom built, and I love that I was able to make every decision right down to the toilet seat handle. Newer homes tend to lack the character of older ones, but they also lack the upkeep! I guess if I was to buy an older home, it would be contingent on having money to fix it up immediately. I wouldn’t want to buy a new(old) home only to be in a constant state of feeling like it’s not quite what I want. I guess I love both types of homes; I would just prefer to live in a newer one. Like I said–tough question.

  8. I have always lived in a old House – and LOVE them. I love the charm and the feeling of history in every room. I lucked out and moved into a old home built in 1924 that had been redone completely before moving in. You also can’t find the trees ,in our area ,that large in new home sites. I have never wanted a new home – except one that was built to look old – English type- it was amazing! I vote for Old cottage type – they make for a sweet home!

  9. I love old homes – at least the thought of living in one. We haven’t gotten that chance yet. I love watching Flip that House or whatever it’s called on HGTV. I love cruising http://www.historicproperties.com for fun.

    However – I know myself. The actual doing of renovations makes for a very unhappy mama and wife. Very unhappy. I can hold up our complete bathroom remodel as proof – and that only took about three weeks…

    So – old house, completely renovated. That would be my dream!

  10. No doubt about it here – Old! We’ve been in lot of homes that are new and try to look old……they are ok, but always seem to lack something with us. Old homes that need a helping hand…..well, that’s where our heart seems to go!

    Have a great week!

  11. Oh my gosh such lovely houses. Though i always lived in new houses i love the charm of old houses:-)

    Greetings from Singapore

  12. I ADORE old homes. There is something about knowing that there is a story to it that appeals to me! And also feeling that we are appreciating the things that we already have. I haven’t lived in a fixer upper, but I would think that I would enjoy the fixing up process. I’ve always had to work hard for things, and the pride you feel knowing that you’ve accomplished something beautiful is priceless!

    I SO WANT THAT HOUSE IN THE LAST PICTURE:)

  13. I have always loved old houses, never lived in a new one! When I was in college I asked for the old dorms too:>) I appreciate the details and quality of older buildings. I love the nooks and crannies of old homes:>) Having said that, I agree that they come with a constant list of ways to spend your weekends other than having fun! I would still choose an old house over a new one, but I would look for one that needs less work, maybe one that has already been redone. I read your CWO article and I relate so much to the feeling of wanting to jettison the “stuff”. Time to clear things out. My girls are 18 and 20 now and I feel like I am entering a new phase of my life. One where I can have a second beginning of sorts. My priorities are different, my outlook is different, so many things have changed. I am seeing this feeling expressed by a lot of bloggers. Well I am rambling but you have given me a lot to think about! Have a great day:>)

  14. I love older houses, my dream would be to live in a Federal style or an old Pennsylvania stone farm house!

    I appreciated your article for CWO! This is such a sweet time for you and your daughter.

  15. What beautiful homes you’ve shown and I would like to put my little two cents worth in the pot. Personally, I love older homes. The neighborhoods are more established with larger trees and just have a more lived in look to me. I’ve seen some of the most gorgeous new homes with every amenity available. But, somehow these home seem a little cold to me. I’d rather have a beautiful older home, updated kitchen and baths, lighting, plumbing, new roof, etc. These older homes just have so much more charm and are usually not the cookie cutter houses that you’ll see in the newer home building areas.
    With an older home at least you could drive down the block and not see another like yours! Good luck on your decision.
    Be a sweetie
    Shelia :)

  16. I do not own a house (yet!), but I would want a refurbished old house. I love the look and characteristics of old houses, but would still like the modern conveniences of good plumbing and electricity. Great topic!

  17. Older homes have the “look” I prefer, with their wood casing windows, hardwood floors, moldings, and charm. But they can be so… old! You can hardly hang a picture if it has old plaster walls, and there might be so many layers of paint slopping over the molding you can’t get a straight line (I counted 16 colors in the breakfast nook of a house we lived in that was built in 1928!). For me, the perfect solution is to build a new house that has all the vintage details I love.

  18. Vee~A Haven for Vee says:

    Good to hear that your daughter’s shower went well!

    This is a very good post for making me think. I’ve actually given this quite a bit of thought of late. For one thing, I don’t want the laundry room in the basement any longer nor do I want an upstairs bedroom without an upstairs bathroom. Guess that these things are the basics. And, as one gets older, caring for a space that is much too large becomes more of a challenge.

    On the other hand, the family is growing and it’s important to have some space. It’s a challenge for sure knowing the needs of the future!

  19. ann marie says:

    This is a tough question…. I almost bought an old Victorian that we would have had to basically “gut”. We ended up purchasing an older home that didn’t require as much work ( thank goodness ) but- I’m still remodeling, and even though some days I would like it to all be done, I think I would have been bored in a brand new home not having projects to do all of the time. We have really transformed our home.
    I love the floor plan of a rambler, but the look of a 2 story. It’s hard. I hope to live in my current home forever, but If I ever had to move, the only way I would buy a new home is if I made it to look old.
    Older homes are kind of like Antiques and heirlooms. If only the walls could talk what stories it could tell. When you walk inside, it’s fun to visualize what life it’s lived, what people have stayed and played there, and how your going to change it to make it your own. ~ Your style. How your going to love it.
    I couldn’t ever live in a condo myself just for the fact that I ADORE being out in my yard gardening. We have 1/2 an acre, and it seems too small sometimes. It’s pretty much a personal decision. New or old, I’m sure if you walk into a house, you’ll know.
    Sorry for the long post.. I hope this even makes sense to you…

    I love your blog, ~ Ann Marie

  20. I’ve lived in an Old Home that needed fixing up, build two new homes from scratch- and believe it or now they both were about the same amount of work- If I could find an Old Home with the perfect yard I would go with the older home. Love the feel of an older home {must be older than the 50’s} The yard and location would be the deal maker for me. Everything else would be easier to change.

  21. I have always lived in new houses, but I have always wanted an older home. The house that we currently live in was built in the early 90s and has alot of built-ins but it still doesn’t have the feel that I long for.

    Michelle

    PS–I enjoy your blog and read it everyday!

  22. I’m a new house person. While I love the charm and great details that an older home offers, I love the convenience of a new one even more. It helps that my husband is a very handy person and is able to add all of those details that can make a cookie cutter home into something with so much character.

  23. Okay, I am not going to weigh in on this because I need to get a lot of stuff done this week. Already I am behind because I can’t seem to get my behind out of the “blog reading chair”.
    TTFN,
    Janet

  24. Stephanie says:

    I am like you. I grew up in an old house and remember my mother dragging me to auction sales and antique shops! So….that being said I have lived in 4 houses; 3 old and 1 new.

    The first one was a 3 bedroom cottage which I loved and my hubby and I had great fun fixing it up when we were young and stupid. The 2nd one was an 11,000 sq. ft. Victorian and we spent much time and MUCH money fixing it up. Were we crazy or what? Then our 3rd house was BRAND NEW and I spent 17 years trying to make it LOOK OLD!

    The house we’re in now is a 1927 Dutch Colonial and we have spent many years making it ‘just right’. Again, I wouldn’t do a new house again EVER! I love old houses.

    But if I had to move again I would look for an old house that might have the hard stuff already finished: plumbing, wiring, new roof, new furnace/AC, etc. The decorating is the fun stuff anyway. I would never be happy in a new house I don’t think.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Stephanie

  25. I love older houses as well, but after living in a 1910’s house in college and fixing up our current house, I’m ready for a brand new house! You just have to add the character! Love the drive-bys, thanks so much!

  26. that last house is fantastic. buy that one!!! really, old just outdoes new for feel, and probably quality of construction, depending on year of construction.
    but you are a smart cookie, and realize all the considerations. coming to terms with the zillion pros and cons is the hardest part after seeing many options. i think you’ll know it when you see it, regardless of old or new. something will click and you will be excited.
    i love my house, it is a tract home with lots of flaws and not so great quality work, but it has something that just comforts me. and so i cope with what is as yet unchanged or will never be changed, and delight in the rest. and i read blogs and look at your wonderful pictures and approximate what i can chez-moi.

  27. Our last two homes that we purchased were foreclosed homes. Both homes had not only sat neglected for several months but had been treated badly to begin with. Our currently home had all of the windows along the back busted out, the flooring was in the worst shape I’d ever seen, and there were fist size holes in many of the walls. Three years later you would never guess what it once looked like. Now that the house is finished we are wondering if it is time to move again. I am having my head examined this week! :)

  28. I love old houses and I love new homes that they make look old. For me personally… I bought an old home and added on to it… keeping the same “old, charming, warm” feel of the original home.

  29. I love old homes too, I love what they have to offer that new homes don’t. But it is really nice to walk into a nice clean home and know you don’t have to spend the next 10 years fixing it up. My Friend Angie has bought older homes and fix them up beautiful and then sell and starts all over, but she did tell me her next home will be new she is tired of all the work. Yes new homes take work too but not like an older home, unless you can get an older home that is already in good shape. Good luck. I like to image my family in the home and having friends over, etc.. do I have room, how about when then kids are grown the they come home with their family will this place work. Good luck!

  30. TheBabblingHousewife says:

    Definitely a new house made to look old. I want Longbourne from the A&E Pride and Prejudice movie.

    Though I have found a close second here in Louisville I want. Finished and empty and waiting for me to buy it…don’t know where the 1.3 million is going to come from though.

    It’s always something :)

  31. Yes you need to buy an old house in good shape..I am nowhere near fixing mine up….should of gone for the newer house..

    Love your story in the CWO….didn;t realize you had an 8 year old as well..Mine have both left home, and have children of their own. Empty nest syndrome is not very good, especially when husbands job means he travels all the time from march to November.

  32. I have thought about this topic quite a bit as I have been informally house hunting for over a year now! My dream would be to custom build a new house, one that is big enough for 3 teenagers, but will still be a good size when it is just my husband and me. I know exactly what I want, and I would want to pick the builder and architect…no spec home for me. I think there are so many quality issues with some of the spec homes in Atlanta.

    However – that kind of home is not cheap, and the land alone goes for $1 million an acre in Atlanta!

    So, now I have turned my attentions to older homes that have been renovated. Not too old – I don’t really like the plans or styles of the 20s – 50s houses – but houses that have some possibility. I prefer a house that already has some updating, and could use some more updating (but not too much) to get it to the state where I would implement my own style and needs.

    I am so picky that I don’t know if I will ever find the right house! I am hopeful. In the meantime, if we find a great deal on a lot that has lots of sunshine and is in a great location, we may go ahead and buy it, hire an architect to draw up the plans, then custom build in a year or two. Because, at heart, I am a new house person!

  33. We live in SW washington (Woodland) and I love the older homes around portland and even in Longview WAshington. Older homes have so much character. If money wasn’t an option I wouldn’t mind an older home to restore. At the same time I love new homes….soooo I guess it would depend. We are building a house right now. So new is good for me at the moment.

  34. Hmmm, I love a new house. There is something so wonderful about the smell of new. Plus, it’s your own fresh canvas that you get first dibs on making beautiful. But there is something about old houses that have such character. They tell a story and are just classic in a way that new can never quite capture.

  35. Hi Mel,

    Pls visit my room, i got something for you there for your BLOG BDAY…& ur worth it.

    Enjoy,
    //chie

  36. I adore old houses…the one we lived in in CT was over 100 years old and this one in WA is only 3…is does not have the same charm that an older house has and my antiques look out of place…I have to work extra hard to try to make them fit in…I would love to have an old farm house someday.
    I hope you are enjoying your summer so far!!
    Hugs,
    Robin

  37. I really love old homes. I live in a 1921 farm house right now and have for all of my married life. We did not plan on staying here, but ended up buying the house. It needs a lot of work, in my opinion, but is also very pretty and livable as it is. All the necessary things work well, though we are getting to where we need to make a decision about windows, roof and new siding. $$

    I do know people in new homes who have had nothing but problems because things were poorly built. This house has stood the test of time and has a story and personality to boot!

    Lynn

  38. This is a common question in the French household. I have tried my darndest to be a new house gal….but those older homes hold a special spot in my heart. I am not sure I could ever purchase a home built after 1940….this really is a problem. Goody luck with your decision. I am anxious to see which path you choose.

  39. My ideal would be a new home with old house charm and character. But that’s really hard to come by. Or an already refurbished old house with up-to-date plumbing, electrical and insulation. All at a price I could afford.

    Sigh. I’ll be content with my 1988 house and add the charm to it as best I can.

    Lorrie

  40. I love all your comments, I agree with you all. It would sure be nice to have the best of both new & old…but, alas, those are hard to come by! Especially if you have a B-U-D-G-E-T. :-) Guess you always have to be willing to settle in some way, depending on what is available, affordable and doable. Sigh. Always fun to dream though.

  41. I love old homes, especially ones that are traditional looking on the inside with some modern updating. we jsutrecently bought a house built int he early fifties and we are redoing the whole house but keeping some of the originals like the big windows, and beautiful crown moldings.

  42. Hi Melissa

    When we were first married we bought a house built in 1865…it was a lovely old colonial that we lovingly restored when we had the money…and when we didn’t it just sat there unfinished. By the time we were 30, we were able to sell it and took the prfits and bought a 10 yr old home in an older, established neighborhood. I loved the old home but things were constantly coming up! But you could not compare its charm. Yet, the newer home freed us up for three kids, a dog, a rabbit…my husband says when we retire he is going to buy back our old house because he put so much sweat into it!
    :0)
    Tara

  43. I think that if I had the parts of the house that I really wanted (lots of windows, wood floors, built-in shelves and quality details), whether old or new, the house could be a good fit.

  44. Françoise says:

    I f you are thinking of the REALLY long term for your next home, then consider that you will be aging right along with it. Steep lots, stairs, and nooks and crannies are hard if along the way you develop back or joint problems. Be sure you can unload bagfuls of grocery close to the kitchen. Look for a house which has a large pleasant downstairs bedroom which you can move into if it becomes necessary for your comfort. You’ll still have upstairs rooms for visiting children and grandchildren and all the stuff you’ll be storing for them ;-))
    That’s my two-bits worth!

  45. I am such a sucker for old houses… there is a certain charm about them that just can’t be re-created in a new house! I live in a new house right now, and everything seems like it is falling apart after two years, grr! At least with an older house I could fix things up myself:) My next house will definitely be an old little cottage!!!! xoxox!

  46. I love older homes. We have lived in both new and old. New homes don’t have character….but they tend to be less maintenance. Our current home is 7 years old. We bought it 3 years ago. We still ripped out the kitchen and master bath, added new ones, put in hardwood floors and had to landscape. It still lacks the great feeling of an older home. I vote for old :-)
    xo

  47. Here’s my vote: Old house.
    You’ll spend all your time adding charm to a new house.
    Second choice: New house that looks old and already has the charm.
    What fun!

  48. Old houses, old furniture, older men — I love them all! ;-) Seriously, to me there’s nothing that beats walking into an old house no matter what the state and soaking in the history….and admiring the craftsmanship (assuming it’s not been stripped). My house had me at pocket doors. :-)

  49. Newer houses have all of the bells and whistles but older houses seem to have all of the charm! It is a hard decision!

  50. Forever I have loved old houses and I have been renovating one now for 14 years. My next house will be new and green and look very old, problem solved. Love, Heidi

    P.S. I have The Nesting Co. and Heidi Claire is my new personal blog, check it out when ya get a chance, you’re on there.

  51. You could always move here.

    ;-)

    Leah

  52. I too wanted an older home but with a husband thats not into fix er upers… we built. I will never do that again. EVER! It was not fun. Very stressful. I do like to repaint often so thats me keeping it new. Good luck to you and the house hunting! Susie h~

  53. Hi! THank you for stopping by my blog. It is funny how people seem to think that we drive sooo far to come to Portland and it’s really only 30 minutes. We’re so used to it, that it really isn’t that big of a deal! Unless of course we get to our destination and forget something. I’ve enjoyed your site becasue we are in the building process (I have a category for that) and I love getting ideas.

  54. A new house in old style!
    But I think when you are searching for a house, suddenly you fall in love of one of them,maybe with out any reasonable reason,that’s spirit of the house that attracted you!!
    At least for me was in this way.hope you find your dream home;)

  55. i love old, the next time we move it will have to be old and already done, there is a lot of stress involved in renovating and I don’t think it would be fair on our family to put anyone through it again!!!

  56. I could never imagine living in a newly constructed house. Has less to to do with the aesthetic and more to do with the soul. I’m all about the soul and energy of a home and you just can’t get the same “vibe” from new materials and/or new construction. I own a 1920’s beach bungalow (old by CA standards, but as an antique dealer, certainly not OLD per se) and I gutted it and added in modern conveniences. But the bones of the house….the soul….remains intact.

    So that’s my vote! :)

  57. i like old houses.
    i wish i liked new houses because my husband would not have nearly as much work. but i just don’t.
    they aren’t me.
    new construction seems to have less character…baseboards, trim molding, crown molding, etc. It seems that way at least.
    and i don’t like siding.
    and they all look the same to me.
    i don’t hate new homes…i just prefer the old ones all fixed up. but man, it’s hard work.

    but then i see these in the previous post and could esialy be swayed.
    they are costly though.
    it’s expensive to build new to look old.

    AND new construction usually has no trees…or just baby trees. i would miss the trees.
    i need trees.

    but of course if someone gave me a new house, with skinny baseboards and no trees i would take it. :)

  58. Hmmm, this will sound like a cop-out on your request. But… I think that something like this… your next home… really has to be what you feel in your ‘gut feelings.’ I don’t think anyone else’s happenings, should influence yours.

    Yes, per usual, I say Go with your gut feelings on this. After much exploring of course. Looking at all the possibilities and listen to ideas, is a great part of the experience. But in the end, I say… {broken record -grin-} Go with your own gut feelings.

    But this is really going to be fun for us, to travel along this new possible path, with you!!!!!! Wheeeeeeeeeeee…

    Miss Mari-Nanci
    Smilnsigh

  59. Hi Melissa,

    I love the character of older homes and the history that comes along with it too. Ours had most of the major stuff done when we bought it.
    Hugs,
    Cathie

  60. OK… I love that cottage and I WANT it! That said, I am so happy for you that your daughter’s bridal shower went well. How amazing to think of packing things up for a daughter who is getting married. Just can’t go there (mine is 11 going on 30) so I will pass quickly to the next subject: houses. I know from our most recent purchase …our current home …that I do NOT want 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2 dens, a LR, a DR, a huge kitchen (ok maybe I still want the huge kitchen), a study, a walk in attic (ok, I’ll keep that one, too.) But as you see it is WAY too much house. I am sick of keeping all this space clean! So, I really don’t care if it’s old or new, or even if I have to remodel, I just want a small cottage with a real cottage garden.

    Blessings to you sweet mother of the bride,
    Christi

  61. Great question Melissa!! In an ideal world I would adore an old house, that has already been fixed up for me, with all the mod-cons installed! but with the quaint charm kept there too. But I’d also love a new house, done exactly how I wanted too. Of course, the new house would be built to look old!! I have to say – American architecture has had me in its spell for several years. You guys just know how to do houses. You seriously do. Fabulous shingle roofs, attic windows, and most importanly – PORCHES galore – big enough to fit a swing! Yeah…. so if i ever got a chance to find the dream home that was old and fixed, great! but otherwise I’d love to build a white double storey (what we call) weatherboard (and you call siding), white, large house with tons of windows, natural lighting, a PORCH and a PORCH SWING!!! Our current home has none of the above – but in the end, it’s our home and we still love it. xo

  62. I’ve got to go with old houses that have aged well and have modern updates in the kitchen and bath. Riggs says “Hi” to Winston today!

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