Cyclone Contracting Blog

Want to Buy a Historic Home? Consider These 6 Things FIRST.

Posted by Jordin Pitt on Apr 26, 2017 1:31:00 PM


Are you in love with a historic home or a house located in a historic district? Before signing the contract, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Older homes often have structural or hidden problems that newer homes don’t. Today, we're going to take a look at what a historic home is and help you weigh the pros and the cons of owning one.


1. What constitutes a historic home?

If the original owner was an important historical figure, if the home exemplifies a certain architecture style or is located in a historical district, or if a historic event took place in the home, the home may be designated as historic. The National Register of Historic Places is the United States' official list of locations deemed worthy of preservation.


2. Why do you want a historic home?

Many historic homes are beautiful, unique, charming, old, and (obviously) historically significant. All these qualities may, especially at first glance, seem very attractive to you. Before you decide to purchase, though, you need to dig deeper. Think about why, exactly, you want a historic home, and take the following factors into consideration as well.


3. Consider the restrictions.

Even though you'll own your home, you may not be allowed to make certain alterations. Some districts place restrictions on how much you can change your home’s exterior. For example, you may need to keep the home a certain color or only replace windows with a specific type of window. Some districts don't allow any alterations at all, making it impossible for you to update or remodel. Not all districts enforce limitations, however, so be sure to check your local planning department for specific information.


4. Will you keep up on required maintenance?

Some historic homes require regular maintenance. You may be expected to hire preservationists or landscapers to keep your home up to par. Keep this in mind as you’re figuring your budget. It could significantly add to your ongoing costs.


5. Make sure you can sufficiently finance and insure the home.

Unforeseen problems often surface in vintage homes. You’ll likely need to replace or repair some things over time, so you should have money saved for unexpected expenses at all times. If you can’t afford to incorporate these funds into your ongoing budget, reconsider buying a historic home.

Borrowing money from a financial institution may be more difficult, and you may be charged a higher interest rate than you would for a newer home. Insuring a historic home could be expensive and challenging as well, especially if the house is on a state or local registry (which could mean restrictions are placed on the home). If the house is only federally registered, it will be free of restrictions and easier for you to insure. Learn more about insurance for historic homes on the National Trust Insurance Services website.


6. Don’t skip the home inspection!

Home inspections aren’t always required, but they’re necessary! Find a home inspector with historic home experience who is familiar with common problems that accompany these types of houses. The inspector should test for asbestos and lead paint (found in many homes built prior to 1978).

The home may need to be brought up to code, which will require the work of a licensed contractor. If you find the home has significant problems (e.g. structural), seriously consider walking away. Not only are historic homes often difficult to renovate or remodel, but finding replacement parts can be very expensive, and making updates could potentially devalue the home.


You may think we’re trying to discourage you from buying a historical home by explaining all the negatives involved. That’s not the case! We just want you to know exactly what you’re signing up for ahead of time. Many historical homes are very well preserved and come with few or no major problems. Make sure to do your research before buying, and you could enjoy a beautiful historic home for many years to come! 

If you're interested in home improvement services in or around Ames, IA, call Cyclone Contracting today!


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Topics: home remodeling, cyclone home remodeling