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Tell me about your old farm house

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  • Tell me about your old farm house

    Looks like we are going to waive our conditions on our purchase of the farm.... but there is a lot of work to do on the house and barn and it's a little scary! Tell me about all the hard work you put into your old farm house and how happy you are that you did? Please?
    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

  • #2
    I'm happy that my house DIDN'T need a lot of work. I'm handy, but not that much. A few things here and there, but mostly the guy before me renovated it (master restoration architect for the park service) and I couldn't be more thrilled.

    Good luck!
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


    • #3
      old farm house

      Hard to say cause its an ongoing project. Let me see so far
      roof, gutters, flooring (not all complete), insulation, new plumbing, new electric (not all complete), redo bathroom,painting, sheet rock (removal of plaster is a nightmare), drain tiling, stalls (portable panels), land clearing.....

      still to go
      more flooring, windows, more plaster removal, more sheet rock, more flooring, another bathroom, kitchen redo, more drain tile.....

      all in all get ready for the never ending project, old house require lots of TLC depending of course on the care given by the previous owners. Not to mention you have to fit it in while still caring for horses. Cancel your gym membership you will not need it good luck


      • #4
        How old is the house?

        I think to ease your mind you would need to walk through it with an inspector and also a building contractor and list out all the work that needs to be done. There are old houses that are wrecks, that even I, an old house aficionado, would not touch.

        However, old houses are usually better built than new ones and have a lot more personality! Try to keep as much original detail and material that you can.

        Our house was built in 1790 and did not need a ton of work, luckily. (Though in 20 years we *have* done work on it). We bought the house next door, also 1790s, which needed new heating and wiring, and LOTS of cosmetic work, like pulling up three layers of floor to get to the wide boards underneath. We spent a lot of money, and even though it wasn't the original plan, ended up selling it for a huge profit. They aren't making old houses any more!
        Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


        • #5
          My in-laws did a *ton* of work on an old farm house before it was sold to pay for nursing home care.

          Replaced all the windows, stripped layers of flooring and refinished what they finally uncovered, and my personal favorite: jacked up the two-story porch to replace the floor boards. They could not find a contractor willing to take the risk, so they did it themselves with bottle jacks.

          It was a big wood frame house set on stone pillars. A tornado once shifted it a few inches on the pillars, but didn't damage it otherwise.

          If the house is structurally sound and you enjoy that sort of thing, go for it!
          ... and Patrick


          • #6
            We completely redid our old house. It was built sometime pre-1854 by some people who never heard of Bob Villa, and didn't have access to Home Depot. Then it was remodeled continuously by other similar people including "will work for food" types in the Depression. The last time it was worked on was 1948, and they never touched it again until we bought it in 2002. We can't believe it didn't fall down, burn down or rot down long long long ago, but it is still a sturdy little house, albeit with a really wonky floor plan and a lot of limitations.

            We will NEVER EVER get the money we spent back out of it. Heck, our garage is assessed higher on our taxes. We say time and again if we had known we were going to LIVE in it and not rent it like we planned, we would have torn it down, or at least half of it down, and built something we could really enjoy. But, it's done, and we won't have to replace anything in our lifetime.

            If you love the layout and look of the house, go for it.
            Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


            • #7
              My old farm house came with new windows, roof, and gutters and the guy gave us new toilets. However, he did not mention that the wiring upstairs was all screwed up (you can turn lights on by plugging the vacuum in) or that it was not insulated, and the new windows were done with the cheapest caulk they make, so they leak now too. Our electric bill last winter was over $400/month
              The bathroom and the kitchen need some major remodeling. Other than that it is pretty cozy.


              • #8
                My house was built with materials left over from the Worlds Fair in Chicago!

                The first 6 months we replaced the water softener, furnace, water heater and the well pump.

                In the last 15 yrs, I've replaced the plumbing, redid the bathroom and the kitchen, including updating all the wiring (apparently grounds are a good thing and you should have more than 1), installed all new windows, reroofed the house and the barn (1860 or so bank barn), jacked up the barn and replaced a quarter section of barn wall that was caving in, replaced all the fencing, and insulated the attic. Oh, and torn down the 1 car "garage" and replace it with a new prefab shed. Replaced the back deck and built a new mud room/screened porch with deak off the kitchen.

                As Bob Villa says, "your house, a life time hobby."


                • #9
                  There was a thread on this a while back that has lots of input:



                  • #10
                    Some of the goodies we found:

                    1 Live wire from old switch buried in a wall
                    2 Range hood wired in with an old lamp cord
                    3 Range hood vent on the roof turned the wrong way so... yes, the water will run IN just as fast as the air will blow out.
                    4 Only 9 outlets and 3 lights on switches in the entire house.
                    5 Floor joist under the iron tub cut out to allow for plumbing (yes it had been there 50 years, but I made my DH put a floor jack under it so I wouldn't fall through)
                    6 No vent whatsoever on any plumbing
                    7 Open dug well in the basement which made a stream in the spring
                    8 not one wall joist on any predictable center (lovely for hanging drywall)
                    9 mold in the attic no doubt from the fact that there was no roof venting
                    10 three layers of wallpaper in livingroom which required three days with a steamer to remove
                    Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                    • #11
                      This is timely. We just bought a 1929 Bungalow. It's adorable as all get out. I love it. That said, a lot of the prior renovations were done homeowner style

                      We have a GC and will be renovating a LOT. Electric, heating/AC replaced with Geo, insulation, new windows, new second floor bath, brick work, trim work, waterproofing/radon removal in the basement, the list goes on and on.

                      Thank god we found a wonderful contractor to GC the project. It will cost us more but is worth it in the end. I really feel that he will do the best job possible.


                      • #12
                        Our house had settled and listed 33 degrees to port. We jacked it up, then had to sheet rock because the list had cracked the beadboard.

                        Completely re-wired because it was double-conducting wire with no ground.

                        Re-did the plumbing, too. Installed AC and heat and removed a bunch of fireplaces (because the chimneys were part of what was causing the house to settle all cattiewompus).

                        Laid new flooring. Put in new windows.

                        Still, we've got a great old house for a fraction of what a new one would've cost us. And I'm glad we did so much of the work ourselves, because when it came time to fence pastures and build shelters - I wasn't askeered.
                        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                        • #13
                          My daughter bought a partially renovated 1900 farm house back in November. She loves it. We despaired about how long it would take to fix it up, but she has amazed us. She made a long list of everything that needed to be done before she bought the house. The pre-purchase building inspector added things to the list. She budgeted amounts for each item on the list, and allowed a certain amount for unplanned disasters. During the time between the contract and the settlement, she got estimates from a fence man, a floor man, and a deck man. Those had to be done immediately, as the old carpet smelled so bad that we couldn't go upstairs for more than a few minutes at a time. The stairs to the kitchen door were very rotten. The horses needed fencing so they could move in within a few days after the purchase.

                          The contractors arrived shortly after my daughter completed the house purchase. The new tractor was delivered a few days after the purchase. The fencing and floor work were completed within 2 weeks after the purchase. The deck/stairs contractor has been a problem, but eventually that will get done to code. My daughter hired a couple of older, retired, men to clean the trash out of the barn and the pastures, and to make the run in shed and barn suitable for use. They were happy to have work, because work is hard to come by when you are in your 60's and in a depressed area. They finished up in two months, which was amazing considering how much work needed to be done. They did a few big projects like removing a rat filled, rusted out, corn storage silo. Some friend of a friend does metal recycling, and removed the silo with their help, at a minimal charge.

                          Six months after buying the farm, my daughter had a big party. Everyone was amazed at how nice her place looks. It really is an incredible transformation. The retired men come by occasionally to do additional projects for her, but most of the work is done.

                          Enjoy your farm. Hire some hard working retirees, if you can find them. Have a plan and a budget for everything. Compare estimates, but get the best people you can to do each job. Good work is often cheaper than bad work.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks everyone! It's so exciting. We are looking at it as a life-time project/hobby, but it is a one-in-a-million place.
                            Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                            • #15
                              Our plumber just told us ALL the plumbing needs to be replaced. Oh joy.

                              Seems like once you start looking and opening walls, etc. you will find more things that need to be fixed. My philosophy is do it right the first time. The prior owners apparently had never heard of this....
                              Last edited by Sparky Boy; Jun. 10, 2011, 11:32 AM. Reason: can't spell ;)


                              • #16
                                We recently sold the old (1890's) farm house we renovated - it took almost 6 years although it turned out really nice, I think. To make it more fun, about halfway through the process, we met several of the family whose great-grandparents had actually built the house, and got a bunch of old photos and some history to go along with it.

                                Things we did:
                                Replaced the old roof with a new, 50 year version
                                Replace the old (original!) windows with new, energy efficient ones (that one dropped our heating costs in winter by about 75%.)
                                We sanded the entire exterior down to bare wood and then re-stained (looks like paint, but more durable, guaranteed for 10 years)
                                Tons of landscaping. Tons!
                                We refinished the floors - which were beautiful wide board hardwoods, but needed a ton of sanding before they could be re-stained. That one was a bear because of having to move the furniture out during the whole process.
                                I removed TONS of old wallpaper (not fun) and then skim-coated the walls and painted. We installed crown moulding in several rooms, which made a surprisingly huge difference.
                                I basically gutted both bathrooms and re-did them from the ground up; the first floor bath got a new slate floor, which I LOVED, and the upstairs one, which originally had paneling (ugh) got tile. ... as well as a new soaking tub (replacing the old claw footed cast iron one) as well as a new sink/vanity. Both baths got new toilets and both were skim-coated and painted as well. That was a lot of work, but also made them much nicer and gave the house a much more updated feel.
                                We replaced all the kitchen appliances with modern, higher end stainless ones. Again it made a huge difference. We did keep the cabinets, which were pretty decent, and the original butcher block countertops.
                                Probably the other really big project I did in that house was to do some re-configuring of the upstairs. When we bought the house, the stairs going up ended at a little landing; there was a door to a (TINY) bedroom immediately to the right, and another one straight ahead to a decent sized bedroom. To the left was just this large open space that the prior owners had used as kind of a playroom for their kids. The upstairs bath and door to the master bedroom were off that larger, undefined space, which made for a lack of privacy - not to mention the space was not particularly functional. So, I built a hallway there, and installed double french doors to the rest of space to make an office. It wasn't huge (10' x 14' or so, IIRC) but it was quite useful, and turned out to be one of the best selling features of the house. It was a LOT of work to do, as creating the hallway meant moving the original framing to that space, and shifting it over about six inches in addition to building the wall itself, adding the doors, etc. (Oh - and getting the doors UP those original, narrow stairs was lots of fun too!) But it was totally worth it.

                                As I said, it turned out beautiful and I was a little sad to sell it, but there were just certain things that I couldn't live with after a while (like the lack of closets, LOL.) However, we had no trouble selling it very quickly, and for a good price.
                                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                                • #17
                                  We just moved 10 days ago into a 1924 house that had been moved on to the property we were buying. We just found out that the previous owner's grandmother was born in the house.

                                  The first time I saw the house it was literally just a shell. Asbestos siding with holes in the exterior where either old window had been removed or where new windows were going to go. The interior had been demo'd and new stud walls put up. That's all there was...no electrical, no wiring, nada. The only "livable" structure on the property was an 1986 single wide that wasn't in much better condition.

                                  The previous owners defaulted on an owner financed mortgage, so we were working with those owners.

                                  They completely rebuilt the house. New everything. So, we moved into a brand-new 90 y.o. house!
                                  Home of Sea Accounts xx
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                                  • #18
                                    We renovated a Sears Kit home and Barn..frustrating, rewarding, some intersting experiences. House had knob n tube wiring still live in attic....
                                    Paint, floor, wiring, roof, floor joices, plumbing, total kitchen reno, bath reno, new furnace, central A/C.

                                    Used house as rental for a few years,our daughter lived in it after college. I so loved the barn!!

                                    Sold for a handsom price before realestate crash.


                                    • #19
                                      I live in a farmhouse built in 1849. The same family had lived on the farm the whole time, until the 99-year old last owner died and her grandchildren auctioned it off.

                                      There are things I love about my house - it has 10 and 12-foot ceilings and 4 fireplaces. Originally the kitchen was a separate outbuilding. The owner's granddaughter told me about when they built the indoor kitchen (indoor plumbing added in 1961). They moved it away from the house by having mules dragging it on rollers. While they where moving it, the grandmother was inside, cooking for the field hands.

                                      Basically, they didn't do anything after plumbing and electricity were added. No insulation, no central heat and air (in Tennessee - it's been in the mid-90's here). Windows original to 1849. Every year I have a project.Added lots of insulation - needs lots more. Ripped the bathroom (only one in the house) down to the studs and rebuilt it, moving things around to a more logical order. The only insulation under the bathtub was leaves and cardboard. Redid the kitchen. Bought storm windows (I want replacement windows, but the cost is dear). The floors, walls and ceilings are all wooden. I heat now with wood pellets. I have one window air-conditioner in my bedroom.

                                      Still, I love my house.It has so much more character than a tract house. Good luck with your new home!



                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by StGermain View Post
                                        The only insulation under the bathtub was leaves and cardboard.

                                        That's like my attic, only add bats, squirrels and raccoons as insulation