What is an Old House?

The bumper sticker on my truck reads, “Please Recycle. Buy an Old House.” It’s not often a company can fit its mission statement on a bumper sticker. A beverage napkin maybe, but we boiled it down to bumper sticker length. Honestly, there is a bit more to our company’s mission, but the real reason I formed my company was to save as many old houses as I could before they are all gone.

Too many people today look at an old house and see nothing but a big headache. They imagine they’re about to sign the mortgage on The Money Pit. Just the smallest thought of maintaining an old house makes them stock up on Valium. But there is so much more to an old house. Take a peek at my post 10 Reasons to Love Your Old House if you don’t believe me.

It’s difficult for me to put into words sometimes, why I think these homes are so important. As I write this I’m trying to come up with a fun title like “4 reasons an old house rocks” but this is apparently not going to be one of those posts.

There really isn’t a set of steps to loving and appreciating an old home. You’re either inspired by the history behind their doors or you’re not. Much like your perspective on half-full or half-empty doesn’t change the amount of liquid in the glass your opinion about an old house doesn’t change what it is.

It is old. It was built by hand without power tools. It has housed multiple generations of very different people through very different times. It was likely someone’s first home. It was likely someone’s last home. It was probably cared for tirelessly by one owner, and it was likely neglected by the next. It was sometimes repaired properly and sometimes not so much. Whatever it was, it is now yours to do with as you please.

Personally, I’m inspired when I see an old home. And the ones that inspire me the most are the bruised and battered ones looking for a contractor in shining armor. I can see the diamond in the rough and it is beautiful.

This post begs to be more of a dialogue than a monologue. So tell me, why do you read a blog like this? If you’re an old house owner do you love or hate your house? Is it more pain than it’s worth?

How can we expect to improve ourselves and our homes without a community to talk about the things we know and learn the things we don’t?

 

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by Scott Sidler

I'm a historic preservationist and author. I help old house lovers understand & restore their homes so they can enjoy the history and character that surrounds them more everyday! When not working, writing or teaching about old houses I spend most of my time fixing up my own 1929 bungalow with my wife Delores and son Charley.

http://www.austinhomerestorations.com

11 comments

  1. Hello Scott,
    I love my old house and old things in general because they were hand made. There is something about a well used (or abused) object that triggers my imagination. I read your blog because you transmit your passion and your priority is to preserve and restore. I don’t want my house to look new, I want it to look it’s age, but graceful elegant – You ‘get that’. Wishing you my best for the holiday season and looking forward to an interesting new year following your blog.
    Cheers,
    Anyes
    The Dusty Victorian

  2. Hello Scott,
    I love my old house and old things in general because they are handmade. There is something about a well used (or abused) object that triggers my imagination. I read your blog because your focus is on preserving and saving – your passion Is priceless. II don’t want my house to look new, I want it to look it’s age, but elegant and graceful, a belief few people understand truly in this age of high consumerism and disposability. Thank you for all your useful tips. Wishing you the best for the holidays and looking forward to a new year with you.
    Anyes
    The Dusty Victorian
    xx

    • Anyes, thanks for your kind words! Elegantly old is the way to go. It’s hard to not want to make it perfect. The old is where the character is found.

  3. Houstory® on said:

    Great post, Scott! We couldn’t agree more. Historic preservation is recycling. Preserve and Conserve. Just like you, we believe the more you know about a house, the more you will care for it. And that means there is a much better chance it will be saved from the wrecking ball. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much! Working to save it for the next generation to enjoy as much as we do.

    • I’ll put a link to the bumper sticker on the blog for you. ;-)

  4. Bunny Watson on said:

    I’m getting inspired. After putting 2 kids through school, we have a lot of deferred maintenance issues. It is overwhelming to even start. We needs lots of money to spend on things that aren’t pretty. Oh, a sugar daddy and a decorator in tuned with Craftsman sensibilities.

    • Bunny, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. I always say to start outside. If you can make sure the roof isn’t leaking, the siding is painted and water tight and the foundation is solid then the rest is cake. That way there is no more additional damage happening while you save up for the fun repairs!

  5. kelli on said:

    Hi! We love your blog because the passion, tips, and encouragement you give are enormously helpful! On any given day, we either love or hate the house! It was left in a total state of disrepair, but the craftsmanship, charm, and unique-ness make it irresistable! No project ia ever little, but overall, I wouldn’t give up my old house for anything! Please keep the posts coming!

    • Kelli, it’s comments like yours that make it all worth it me! Thank you so much!

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