Old Houses in MN & WI: Historic or Headache?

Do you love old homes? You certainly are not alone. There are books, songs, tv shows, clubs, online groups, non-profit organizations, artwork, and websites devoted to a love of old homes. I love old homes too…the uniqueness, history, and charm that is a throwback to a time of unparalleled craftsmanship. If you are considering an older home, and by older I mean 100+ years, be sure to weigh the benefits along with the potential risks before making a solid investment.

The oldest home in Minnesota is still standing at 1357 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Mendota Heights, MN 55120 and it’s preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society. While many important historical buildings are no longer used as private residences, without a doubt, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their fair share of homes built a century ago that are occupied and many have been well maintained and preserved.

Older homes (Pre-1920) have their advantages.

Esthetically speaking, these homes feature more unique, ornate embellishments like crown moldings, built-in shelving, stained glass windows, and quirky features that are now quite obsolete (coal chutes, milk delivery doors, and root cellars to name a few). This means your home and neighborhood will not resemble the cookie-cutter neighborhoods you see in more modern subdivisions.

Location and space are big advantages when it comes to older homes. The lots of older homes tend to be larger and the property is built closer to downtown areas. You will likely find more bedrooms in an older home (they had more children back in the day) and additional spaces such as formal dining areas, finished attics, and sitting rooms. And let us not forget the mature landscaping!

Built to last. Nothing these days is built to last as it used to and older homes are no exception. You will find older homes were built with thicker walls, bricks, stone, and other materials sourced nearby that are resistant to local pests and humidity

History. Every home tells a story, but a home that’s 100+ years old has many stories to tell. Think about how many people have been inside those four walls. The births and deaths of loved ones…the blood sweat and tears someone put into repairs or cleaning…the world events that occurred and were discussed at the dinner table. Things were very different in 1900!!!

Despite all the wonderful things about an old home, they do have their disadvantages.

First of all, if you are considering buying an older home do NOT skip your inspection. Unless any significant updating or renovations have been done, a century-old home will have old electrical and plumbing systems which can be ticking time bombs. There is a good chance that a well-preserved home that hasn’t seen any significant renovations will also have hazardous housing materials such as asbestos and lead-based paints. You (and your inspector) will want to pay special attention to the foundation and roof.

Want to see all the available homes for sale built 1920’s or older? Check it out here!

An older home can be an incredible investment or an incredible headache. Did you buy an old home? What was your experience?

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