Need advice from anyone experienced with SERIOUS rehabilitation of an old, semi-historic property

Asked by HLHarkins, Loveland, OH Thu Jan 29, 2009

I am considering the purchase of a 100 year old home and its property, but it needs serious renovation / structural modifications / aesthetic improvements / rewiring / mold remediation / fire repair... and on and on and on. It might be a fool's paradise. I know that I need to hire experts for various inspections. Anyone been down this road who can offer some guidance, steps, advice, pitfalls, cautions - anything else?

Any way to coordinate funding for this kind of effort via government grants or other grants/loans? All options will be appreciated!

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Joe Rosauri, , Rehoboth Beach, DE
Sat Jul 25, 2009
I purchased a 240 year old farmhouse in Middletown, DE back in 2000. 6 fireplace all needed lined, deteriorating brick, total rehab. I "finished" my remodeling about a year after i purchased, but never really was done with the work. There is always something needed to do, you have to enjoy what you do. Good Luck, Joe Rosauri
0 votes
Katie Morris, , Cincinnati, OH
Mon Feb 23, 2009
As the owner of a 125+ year old home, I will caution you that the projects will never end.
While it can be very rewarding, you need to walk into the project with your eyes wide open. Do not "guess" at the repair/remodel costs, get as many estimates as you can. Make sure you budget at least 25% for cost over-runs. Also, be very realistic about your skill level and available time when considering work that you will be doing yourself. If you are unrealistic and end up having to hire contractors to finish/fix projects, your budget will evaporate very quickly.
When looking for contractors, make sure you talk to people whose homes are of the same age. There are so many things to watch out for, and you want to make sure you are dealing with somone who knows what to look out for.
Good Luck, and if you find yourself in need of contractor referrals, please feel free to contact me.
0 votes
David Selleck, , Sewickley, PA
Sat Jan 31, 2009
30 Years + of experience in old (100+ yrs) restorations and renovations. From the way you phrased your question this sounds like a 'Project'. There are great advantages to buying an older home, tremendous upside, (if you buy it right), established neighborhoods, character etc. But a couple of notes on what you are up against. First if you are a handyman 'and I don't get the impression you are' you will need considerable experience in all aspects of construction, mechanicals as well as methods used a century ago, plus design insight to marry the old with the new. (This is not as easy as it sounds). If you aren't the handyman type you will need ' Financial Resources'. Not only are you building but first you must deconstruct before you and even start. This is a surcharge of 25 - 50% out of the gate. This is putting a # to your paradise.
Inspections are great but remember they can only inspect what they see and there is a lot that is hidden. Even quotes from professionals can go out the window when unexpected obstacles are encountered. Assume the worse, Plan, Prepare and Plan some more and you may be blessed with some fantastic discoveries - but don't count on it. Just don't go in blind. It can be a daunting undertaking for the unprepared but if you can pull it off the rewards can be worth it.
If you have some specific questions I can be reached at Good luck
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sat Jan 31, 2009

Watch the movie "Money Pit" Although the home depicted was not historical the story line brings viewers face to face with the possible problems.

With these types of undertakings, it is not the problems that everone can see that are the main issues(they are not suprise) but the ones that remain hidden and lead to additional concerns.

Our advice is to do some preliminary historical research on the property to determin if there is any real significance to this property, get the best handle possible on the scope of work that needs to be done, and then make an informed decision .

Rehabing a historical home can be personally rewarding and fun but unless you are handy and can do much of the work on your own it can indeed become a "money pit."
0 votes
James Gordon…, Agent, Hamilton, OH
Sat Jan 31, 2009
I am not aware of any grant money in the Cincinnati area to rehab a home. There is always the option of a 203k loan if it is going to be owner occupied. A 203k will not allow structural repairs or modifications however. If you are working with a Realtor® double check with them. Otherwise feel free to give me a call. I own a property that is 126 years old among others.

Jim Gordon
Web Reference:
0 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Grants are available......start with the site below....good luck! What a fun project!
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Thu Jan 29, 2009
WOW, are such gorgeous properties HOWEVER can be expensive especially if home is located in a restricted area, trying to locate "that period" of materials Many investors I have worked with wanted to purchase if foreclosures not take the total redo project due to problems, city approvals and etc.

Any person ever driving past these homes LOVE THEM.
Web Reference:
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more