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View Full Version : Going to look at another farm *sigh* adding AC to the 100 year old house?



TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 18, 2012, 01:26 PM
Actually the house is 115 years old (eeek). It is outside of our original distance parameters and a mile on gravel, but it is also a lot less than our budget, so *shrug* ....maybe?? Keep in mind we are homeless in August... I think the sellers are motivated. It has been vacant a year (sale fell through it looks like) and they have lowered the price below what they paid in 2008. They started at 15k over what they paid and now are 7k under what they paid--so a big drop.

Three bedroom, 1 (ugh) bath (updated) but the rooms are really nice sizes for an old farmhouse. The smallest bedroom is 13x11 with a good closet. If you opened up the kitchen to the living room, which would be possible with a couple thousand dollars for a support beam in the ceiling, it would have an open floor plan. Main floor laundry!

Decent looking (a little faded--has the verticle stripe that everyone used to do) older 72' x 48' Morton brand building and a cute little red barn. 7.4 acres. House and red barn need a new roof.

I don't know. I feel like at this price even if we stick 20k into it and hate the isolation we can still get our money out and sell it. It is in the boonies, but only two miles from the interstate exit, so that is good. It needs superficial updates (get rid of the wall paper borders, etc.) which we are good at.

Oh, but my question. It doesn't have central air. Any random ideas on how hard it is to run duct work if the house is finished? The basement won't be finished, I'm sure, being super old, but the first and second stories are...maybe we will luck out and the heating system has ducts, but I think it is going to be baseboard from the pictures.

Simkie
Jun. 18, 2012, 01:29 PM
You'd be looking at something like this, versus running ductwork through the whole house:

http://www.residential.carrier.com/products/ductfree/index.shtml

I knew someone who put in ductless and I do not think it was terribly expensive. Maybe a couple/few thousand?

alabama
Jun. 18, 2012, 01:42 PM
Ditto what Simkie said. My boss just put in a Mitsubishi ductless air system in his in-laws old house. He said there was no way to put in ducts.

http://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/en/consumer/product-solutions/product-showcase

I didn't ask how much it was, but he really likes it.

TheJenners
Jun. 18, 2012, 02:13 PM
Who knows, you may wind up liking the isolation! :yes:.

Alagirl
Jun. 18, 2012, 02:25 PM
well, if you have basement space and attic space you should be able to run ducts.

But I have to agree, those Mitzubishi units look really neat. I am such a house work hater...the A/C ducts in the floor drive me absolutely nuts! There is always crud in them, no matter what you try!

They are not cheap though, but I am assuming one could add them a room at a time, starting with the living room and master bed room. (they still have a pipe that goes to the outside, but from the schematics I looked at a while back, not big, but it runs through the wall non the less.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 18, 2012, 02:35 PM
BRILLIANT!! I wonder how efficient they are compared to traditional systems?

We leave in a few minutes. I've lost track of how many acreages I've looked at now. Going to be a scorcher--It is wicked hot today. Great day to check out a house with no AC! :P

Hinderella
Jun. 18, 2012, 02:51 PM
We have the Mitsubishi ductless system and we LOVE it! I have a very small 90 year old house in an historic district, so installing central air was nearly impossible. My husband had experience with the ductless system from his time living overseas. We went on line to servicemagic.com and had several contractors come out and give us a price.

I wasn't wild about the idea of having the units on the walls; I thought they'd look out of place in an old house. But I grew accustomed to them quickly. They have not been expensive to operate at all.

One of the things that I especially like about the system is that each unit has its own remote control. So if my husband wants the office set to "artic" and I want the bedroom more temperate, we can easily do that. We can also close up and cool our bedrooms while having a couple of windows open elsewhere in the house.

We had only one problem with ours. Because our house is SO small, the contractor ran the hoses/ducts through a conduit up the outside of the house, then in through the attic and down from the ceiling to connect to the bedroom units. Each unit has a pump to get rid of accumulated moisture. When the duct work goes down, in the typical way, the pump doesn't usually have to run, gravity pulls the moisture down and out. Since those upstairs ducts run up, the pump will turn on several times until the rooms have cooled off...and it's a rather large buzz. Our contractor wasn't even aware that would happen, as he'd never done an install like ours. but once they're running and the room is cooled, it's not a problem.

I think you'll enjoy the system.

cottonXCblondie
Jun. 18, 2012, 04:23 PM
i didn't realize i was familiar with the ductless system until i opened the link to check it out. we have on at the salon. it's very efficient. we keep it set to like 65 to keep the humidity and everything to a minimum.

morsekg
Jun. 18, 2012, 04:34 PM
We have a Mitsubishi heat pump split ductless system as well, but because I felt averse to the wall units we had lines run to the attic and basement (nonfinished farmhouse basement). It converts there instead of in a wall unit, then the downstairs has traditional looking floor ducts and the 2nd floor has vents in the ceiling. We use ours for air and for heat til 20F. The upstairs and downstairs function separately with thermostats. For us it was much cheaper than trying to get full ductwork run. We also love how small our electric bills are!

Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 18, 2012, 04:45 PM
Were about 5 miles from the farm and I get a phone call. My realtor has a flat and is waiting for AAA. We go back to get him and he sheepishly admits he doesn't know how to change a flat. Well I do. So in a skirt in 96 degree weather on asphalt I change the tire (I let him do the hard stuff). I did ruin my skirt btw, when I got down to show him that he had the jack on the wrong part of the frame. Unless someone knows how to remove tar?

Then a farmer pulls up in an old tractor to see if he can help. From under a hat I hear "Laura is that you?" Turns out it is a highschool classmate. Fortune smiles on us, because he knows all the dirt on the place. Like that the Morton building gets six inches deep when it rains!

The house turned out to be a bit different than the description. The third bedroom is really your sitting room and the staircase to the upstairs is in it, so it was a 2 bedroom 1 bath, not a 3. The main floor was so uneven you could bring in snow and sled on it.

The red barn was a cute little dairy barn, but not for horses.

So the search continues!!!

ChocoMare
Jun. 18, 2012, 04:47 PM
Ahhh, nothing like some Divine Intervention!

I know it's frustrating, but keep reminding yourself: the right one is out there and when you see it, you will KNOW it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Alagirl
Jun. 18, 2012, 04:49 PM
Were about 5 miles from the farm and I get a phone call. My realtor has a flat and is waiting for AAA. We go back to get him and he sheepishly admits he doesn't know how to change a flat. Well I do. So in a skirt in 96 degree weather on asphalt I change the tire (I let him do the hard stuff). I did ruin my skirt btw, when I got down to show him that he had the jack on the wrong part of the frame. Unless someone knows how to remove tar?

Then a farmer pulls up in an old tractor to see if he can help. From under a hat I hear "Laura is that you?" Turns out it is a highschool classmate. Fortune smiles on us, because he knows all the dirt on the place. Like that the Morton building gets six inches deep when it rains!

The house turned out to be a bit different than the description. The third bedroom is really your sitting room and the staircase to the upstairs is in it, so it was a 2 bedroom 1 bath, not a 3. The main floor was so uneven you could bring in snow and sled on it.

The red barn was a cute little dairy barn, but not for horses.

So the search continues!!!


LOL, make sure you deduct the skirt from the commission! ;)

Your farm is just around the corner! :yes:

Some corner, anyhow! :D

PeteyPie
Jun. 18, 2012, 05:01 PM
First of all, when you look at what the seller paid in 2008... well, don't look at it at all. It has no relevance to the current value -- as you can see by the fact that the house has been on the market for a year. Of course, your neck of the woods may be MUCH different than mine, but the difference in property values between 2008 and 2010 is HUGE in many parts of the country.

So I would look at this the way a house flipper does: it's all about the purchase price. Be very analytical about current property values, as in, the price at which comparable real estate ACTUALLY SOLD in the past few months, not what comparable properties are listed at.

Now, if the seller is upside down in his mortgage, his purchase price in 2008 will be relevant to his ability to sell, but it should not determine what you will pay.

I would talk to your realtor about comps, and then make a rock-bottom offer at a price for which you could re-sell the house comfortably, if you decide you hate living out there.

I would include a nice letter to the seller, pointing out some of the things you love about the house, it's charm, its beautiful setting, its suitability to you because you have horses, and then itemize a list of problems that you feel affect the value and explain that is why you are offering a lower price. For instance, you might say, "Although other buyers might be okay without central air, we really need that in a house and will have to pay the considerable cost of upgrading it. I have obtained three estimates that range from $5,000 to $8,000." And "Although the property is 50 miles from Big City, which decreases the value, we feel that we will enjoy the rural setting, and for us, the beauty of your house will offset the increased cost of commuting and the reduction in property value." So the point is to not insult the seller when you offer low. People hate to get a low offer from someone who says in effect, "This property is garbage and that's why I wouldn't pay more than bla bla..." They can be SO offended that they won't even deal with you. And why should they?

Anyway, this has worked for me.

Also, get a good inspection before you buy.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 18, 2012, 05:07 PM
Great advice, thanks, I just can't do a two bedroom on a bad foundation though. It is way too small of a house for us. And I'm pretty most of the fields are a swamp when it rains (lots of reeds).

Our straight housing real estate market is not depressed. FWIW. Ag land shot up 38% from last year too. In one year. It is a horrid time to buy an acreage here--land prices are unreal. The word "bubble" is becomming more and more popular...

JeanM
Jun. 18, 2012, 06:59 PM
I learned quickly when I was farmette-hunting to look first at the land - was it suitable for horses now? would it have to be cleared? how much was pasture or easy to make into pasture, vs. wetlands or rock fields? would the horses have to be part mountain goat to navigate the steep property? Only once I determined that the land had possibilities for horsekeeping did I actually focus on the house.

I ended up buying an old (circa 1850) house. It's a bit of a kluge, but it works well for me. (Acknowledged: resale may turn out to be a bit challenging unless I luck into another buyer like me, but I wasn't buying it to flip but to live in for decades.)

If you find yourself looking at another older house and have questions about modifications/upgrades to it, this is an excellent forum for old house fans: http://www.oldhouseweb.com/forums/

JanM
Jun. 18, 2012, 09:18 PM
Don't forget that in a place with septic that it has to pass the perk test, or else you have to get some special system that really costs (an area near where I live has this problem).

You'll find the right place, and not seeing the right one yet might mean it's not for sale or listed on the sales ads yet. So many people I know have run into exactly this scenario, they go looking, really need a place, and someone lists the right place at the right price. It will all work out in the end.

Jim_in_PA
Jun. 19, 2012, 09:40 AM
In addition to the ductless AC systems already mentioned, there are also high-velocity air systems that use small, easy to route pipe for duct work that are suitable for retrofitting older structures unobtrusively for a central air system. The ductless units are "easy", but since they are room based (1-3 rooms typically), they do result in a more visible installation on the outside of the home due to the need to route the refrigerant lines to the outdoor compressor units, especially for rooms that are not on the ground floor.

SMF11
Jun. 19, 2012, 12:12 PM
Just a side note -- at least in my area, people pay a PREMIUM for old houses. Just don't buy an old house and try and make it look like a new house, that's the worst of both worlds, and will substantially decrease its value. This may not be true everywhere, but certainly is here.

Ambitious Kate
Jun. 20, 2012, 10:33 AM
Oh, well! Keep us updated on your search! Where are you located?

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 20, 2012, 11:43 AM
Well in a complete 180 we put in an offer on a house in the city today. I found out about a (previously closed to horses that weren't in training with the previous owners) boarding barn that basically has everything I want, is reasonably priced, knowledgeable staff on site, plus has 100 acres to ride on, and my fingers are crossed that it works out long term.

The house is vacant (relocation company involved) and a complete fixer-upper, but is in a fantastic location for both of us and has a great floorplan. It is a larger (outdated) version of our house we just sold. I have no idea if they will go for our offer though...

Of course it takes disgusting to a whole new level, which is why it hasn't sold I'm sure. ;-)

Seriously, why don't people spend a few hundred dollars to hire professional cleaners before listing their house? Or splurge on a can of white paint (the teal probably isn't helping either). My gain I guess.

I'm not saying the farm won't happen in the future, but I feel like this is an incredible opportunity that fits right into our skill set and I can't pass it up!

oldpony66
Jun. 20, 2012, 12:07 PM
Good luck with the house search!
Try goo-gone on your skirt, it gets tar off of cars so it's worth a shot on your skirt. If it ruins your skirt, well, it was already ruined.

heavensdew
Jun. 20, 2012, 05:31 PM
Trot Trot, I feel like we are living parallel lives. We have also been everywhere looking for a farmette and we are tired of the "goldilocks" syndrome of too little of this or too much of that. We have looked at a crazy amount of places for literally 2 years.

We have also taken the path of looking at good boarding barns and a basic house nearby. In this economy it might be what we do until the dream farm comes along some day.

Good luck!

Chall
Jun. 21, 2012, 05:04 AM
On the ductless a/c, the vendors around here have bad pictures of their installations. To me, the outside duct work is incredibly ugly. It's like ugly creeping vines going up the side of your house. And room by room means a lot of vines (ducts). Even if it's on a commercial building it makes me cringe.
Mitsubshi seems to get the best reviews, it's quieter and I believe it has an inverter, which means it only uses the amount of power it needs at the time, the whole engine doesn't have to run at full throttle all the time.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 21, 2012, 11:56 AM
Trot Trot, I feel like we are living parallel lives. We have also been everywhere looking for a farmette and we are tired of the "goldilocks" syndrome of too little of this or too much of that. We have looked at a crazy amount of places for literally 2 years.

We have also taken the path of looking at good boarding barns and a basic house nearby. In this economy it might be what we do until the dream farm comes along some day.

Good luck!

It is very frustrating. I think we have an adequate price range, but the options just aren't there. I've seen one farm come on the market all summer (the one we tried to buy) and it needs a ton of work on the house and is overpriced. It still hasn't sold, btw. I'm just less and less inclined to settle for something where I know I will have to put so much money into it I will never get it out if we have to move for some reason. I'd rather buy bare ground and do it the way I want. Even though that is the absolutely most expensive way to go, I'm getting more and more interested in taking that route.

LauraKY
Jun. 21, 2012, 12:27 PM
We're putting the Mitsubishi system in on the second floor of our house. We have two heat pumps, but the duct work is run poorly and inefficiently. The Mitsubishi system is the least expensive solution (short of window air conditioners) that we could find.

ETA: Looks like you didn't need the info. For the life of me, I don't understand why people don't bother to spend $200 to get a house ready to show. All it takes is a good cleaning, neutral paint and clearing out all the junk (including the closets). We did when we listed our house and it sold in 1 day. Just put the extra junk in storage.

A good realtor will tell their client to clean it up...I guess there are a lot of not so great realtors out there.

Forte
Jun. 21, 2012, 03:08 PM
TrotTrot, you know I feel your pain.
We are finally just putting the final touches on a deal to purchase a house on 25 acres, after having 4 other deals fall through. It's been extremely frustrating, but at the end of the day, I'm glad we waited to find the place that we did. It's very easy to get distracted by a pretty house or nice fencing, but the bottom line is that the location and the quality of the land is the only thing that you can't change. Barns can be built and houses can be renovated. The right place will come along. We have ended up with a modest house with "good bones" on a bare 25 acres. We're building everything else. The nice thing is that there is not a falling down bank barn and a bunch of dilapidated outbuildings to tear down. It's a bit of a blank slate. Like you, I became frustrated with what sellers were advertising as "horse barns".
Have you considered putting up a "wanted" add. There may be some farm owners who have been toying with the idea of selling, but haven't listed yet.

Ambitious Kate
Jun. 21, 2012, 03:35 PM
It is very frustrating. I think we have an adequate price range, but the options just aren't there. I've seen one farm come on the market all summer (the one we tried to buy) and it needs a ton of work on the house and is overpriced. It still hasn't sold, btw. I'm just less and less inclined to settle for something where I know I will have to put so much money into it I will never get it out if we have to move for some reason. I'd rather buy bare ground and do it the way I want. Even though that is the absolutely most expensive way to go, I'm getting more and more interested in taking that route.

I have talked to my SO (significant other, not Stallion Owner!!) about that kind of choice, in theory (we're not really looking) and this is what we've thought about buying land.

Around here, there are alot of old pieces of property with a history of a home on them, but not necessarily a home at this time. When you find a property with a dilapidated house or with a foundation on it, very often you already have what SO and I call a "footprint". Depending on your town's zoning, that footprint creates grandfathered-in rights for the size and type of structures which might not be allowed if the land were 'virgin'.

For example: One piece of property was an old one story two bedroom house falling into its cellar hole. However, there were the foundations of three barns on the property. It had a lovely old history, and the foundations were 6 foot high stony creek pink grainite walls, which could still be rehabilitated. Some research showed that in the early 1800's it was a chicken farm, with large barns for poultry and equipment sheds. Because they had actually been built in the 1700's, it turned out these were some of the earliest quarried stones from still existing regional quarry. The land was still 'zoned' as farm land, and as double residential and commercial. In other words, I could build some gorgeous barns out of those foundations, right where they were, even though they were currently too close to neighborning dwellings to pass current zoning, they were grandfathered in and I could rehabilitate them, AND make them historical something or other, and get grants from the town and state for doing so.

The property had electricity run in from the road, and town sewer, surprisingly, as well as town gas. All the electrical lines were rotted and ruined, the sewer and gas lines old and not up to date, but that was the responsibility of the municipality to update. It also had an old well, which was in good shape and could be used for running frost free hydrants, which would save us town water company money using water in the barns. The foundation of the old house meant that I could build on that foundation right away without going through what might be a long and expensive set of town and engineering plans siting the dwelling.

as it turned out, the land around it was until that moment hayed, and the farmer who had been haying it on lease had actually installed drains in the low spots of the fields, and so the land its self was very well maintained.

The land was priced at farm land prices, significantly less than 'development' land prices, as I recall.

As 'delapidated' and work intensive as this property was, I was highly unhappy that I was unable to buy this property when I found it. The value of the land would have been able to support the construction of the house, the barns would have been majorly financed by several outside agencies, and the land was also formerly zoned for multiple residences, as well as commercial so I could have without any land/zonging meetings trying to get the zoning changes, I could have built a fantastic apartment over one of the barns for extra income. Oh, and it was 15plus acres.

If you are so inclined to start investigating older properties or dilapidated farm houses, you might actually find some real golden opportunities. I would certainly look at building your own on land, but I would look for previously built-on land, not virginal land, and see what services and 'footprints' are already available on the property. You can do this by researching at town hall.

Ambitious Kate
Jun. 21, 2012, 03:42 PM
Also, you might in your research come across pieces you WISH were for sale. Do not despair. Write a personal letter to the owner - you may be surprised that they had been thinking of selling, or not, but with your interest, might be interested in selling off. Often the dilapidated properties are owned by some relative far away, who might be happy to unload it without having to update it.

candyappy
Jun. 21, 2012, 03:45 PM
We have always been lucky in finding a suitable place pretty quickly. When I say suitable I mean we can make it work after a lot of sweat equity. The best place was the one that was already fenced and had a barn for every one of our different types of farm animals, no outside work needed.. I walked into that house and said " I cannot live here". After a lot of work/ remodeling it was home! Keep a positive attitude!

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 26, 2012, 02:00 PM
Well I'm back at looking at farms.

We had agreed (verbally) last night to purchase a diamond-in-the-rough house in town after much back-and-forth and after getting estimates on replacing the roof, etc. Went to send in the paperwork today and the seller was like, "oh wait, one more thing" and sent over an additional disclosure that we had never seen before.

Their rellocation company had done a complete home inspection. Structural damage in the attic and the boiler is leaking (of course it isn't on right now)--among many other problems. None of this was disclosed on the two disclosures we had received from the Sellers previously. Un-freaking-believable. I had already picked out light fixtures. I was going to bring it back to mid-century modern (it is a MCM ranch). :(

Huge waste of everyone's time. I know it is good we found out now...

Alagirl
Jun. 26, 2012, 02:54 PM
You will find it! :yes:

ChocoMare
Jun. 26, 2012, 03:07 PM
I know it can be soooo discouraging, but try and say "THANK GOD that we found out about it now instead of after..... whew!"