I used to work in construction and have renovated a Victorian home in San Francisco. In my experience, there are a couple of things to pay attention to...
First - the standard of construction can vary considerably. Look out for undersized framing members. Especially in the floor joists. Some Victorians are built very solidly, while others look like they were built quickly and by scrimping on materials. When the framing is undersized it can be more complicated to remodel since the city inspector may want you to upgrade the structure.
Second - look out for foundations that are too low to the ground or made of substandard materials. My Victorian in San Francisco had a concrete foundation that had deteriorated significantly. The contractor said that they often used beach sand in the concrete in those days. The salt in the sand then leaches out over time causing the concrete to crumble. If the foundation is too low to the ground (I think the current building codes require the wooden framing to be at least 6" above grade ) then water and termites can work their way into the framing - not good.
Also - some houses of that vintage are built on brick foundations which are not sound in the event of an earthquake.
The good news about Victorians is that they are typically built from very high quality redwood that is rot resistant and very long lasting.
I would be happy to elaborate on my experiences if you need more information. Just contact me directly.
Prudential California Realty
So yes, tihs is addressed in our market.
As a design style Victorian homes have the same type of septic problems as any other kind of design. An important concern should be the approximate age of the system and weather there are trees with root systems near the under ground pipes that could cause clogging.
I was a bit amused when you said the "real" part of Alameda
Here's a link to a geomap http://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/sfgeo/liquefaction/susceptibility.html
This shows the liquefaction factor -- keep zooming in to see Alameda. You'll see that as expected there is higher probability of liquefaction in the perimeter of the City (and newer areas like South Shore and Harbor Bay).
Not all Victorians are created equal....some have been maintained and updated beautifully, and others need help. If a house is over 100 years old, you'll expect that there will be problems. How do they do it in Europe where a 500 year old house is considered "new" ?
By the way, a couple of my clients are buying my listing, a duplex on Encinal. Happily, the foundation of that property was already done by Gutleben. So although it does need a fresh coat of paint, structurally, it's in good shape. We also peeked into the attic ---- and it's huge! It's almost like a third floor. That's another surprise when it comes to these older homes.
From our experience, one of the commonly found condcerns for northern Victorian homes is that people overlook the impact of the high ceilings on the cost and ability to heat these homes during the winter months.
Zoned heat, ceiling fanc, and efficient windows can make life more comfortable in these beautiful homes.
The "Eckler Team"
This is an interactive map, so you can zoom in to the San Francisco area for this purpose. It gives you estimates of
Job Cost, Resale Value, Cost Recouped, and type of project. This list includes:
Roofing replacement of $21,360 in the SF area, $18,042 nationally
Siding replacement of $12,139 in the SF, $9,910 nationally
As for foundation --- you'll have to interview some folks for that. In Alameda, Ken Gutleben has a stellar reputation.
Another one we refer to a lot is Chee Chan from Sing Sing --- he's a licensed general contractor, and does pretty much all of the things on your list.
Call/email me if you need more info on some of the folks realtors like us refer our clients to. Our reputation depends on how well they do their job. Thus far, these folks have been great!
510 748 1148 office
Keep in mind that most Victorians were built in the 1800s. By 1900, the architecture has changed to Colonial Revivals, etc. These old painted ladies will need upkeep, maintenance and renovation to bring it up to modern times (including upgrading the electrical amperage to accommodate the latest electronics and appliances)
The size of the Victorian house may also determine the height of the basement. Some Queen Anne High Basement features the living areas on the second level, and then have a low-ceiling for the basement.
Things to look for:
* Foundation --- brick? Would need to be reinforced or replaced
* Windows --- Drafty? Single-pane?
* Attic -- insulation?
* Electrical and plumbing upgrades
* Furnace --- how old?
* Fireplace --- functional? In good shape? Do not use unless you have it tested first.
* Sewer lateral (in Alameda, this has to be tested; if it fails, it must be replaced within a certain period of time, before or after closing escrow for the most recent sale)
* Siding --- sealed? Any cracks that will allow water to seep in?
* Roof -- how many times was it replaced or re-roofed? In Alameda, we can have up to 3 layers of roof. After that, they should all be removed and a new roof installed.
Here's another question: the Victorians in Alameda are built on the "real" part of the island, not the landfill section. How stable is the soil in the old town? I've seen a lot of Victorians that have suffered some uneven settling over the years, visible to the naked eye--one house looked like you could put a billiard ball down in one corner of the living room and see it roll all the way down to the front of the house.
A new foundation
A new roof
Sewer lateral (not clear what that is--is it just the sewer line between the house and the street?)
Whole-house floor refinishing
Minor dry rot
A 3000 square foot dirt yard's worth of sod
I don't have a specific house in mind--it's just that the ones I've seen in person needed a combination of some of the above repairs. One house I saw came at $250K worth of repairs (ballpark from a contractor who spent a good amount of time with me looking at the house inside and out) and that scared me a little :)
Thanks again, this is very informative.