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Old 04-19-2017, 01:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Buying an old farmstead

I'm looking at buying out the family farmstead from Grandma. The house is about 50 years old, and is currently being lived in by renters. I might keep them and set up a bachelor shack for a few years, or live in the house and slowly pick away at overdue maintenance. There's several sheds on the property as well that could use TLC, including the shop I currently run my welding company out of.

My question to PBB is what are some major things to look for before buying? I'm talking about show-stopping shit that would have to bring the house down in a few years. I'm guessing most inspectors in this area hardly ever see a house older than ~30 years.

Also, other PBB'ers with old houses, how much time and money do you dump into your house every year?
This place has the normal old house issues - occasional electrical gremlins, water well shits the bed about once a year, basement floods every so many years.

Thanks to the internet I can struggle-fuck my way through just about any DIY project, but there's only so much time in a day.
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Old 04-19-2017, 02:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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we have a Family Ranch...

anyways.. more details I think are needed
can ya'll get city water? or does it have a well.. and how good is that water?

are you close to the city?

how old are you? do you have kids? what schools would they be going to.. etc..

how far away is emergency medical care?
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Old 04-19-2017, 04:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, does it have a well? If so, how often does it go out?

I just paid $3k and DIY'd a new boiler in my 70yo house. New metal roof for about $5k 13 years ago. The block foundation has some cracking from improper drainage. Renovated the kitchen down to studs 4-5 years ago...
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Run hot water to fill the bath tub. Shows well, heater, and floor joist capacity.

Have septic pumped by your chosen guy and be there while it's done to see condition of shit box.

Is the well registered with some local agency? Banks will only finance a property around here with a registered well.

Submit a water sample from the well for testing. Local Heath unit can suggest testing companies.

Look for buried drums poking up through remote corners of the property. Banks hate private dumps.

Can you get high speed internet there? Natural gas? Cable TV?

Is the neighbor's daughter hot? Does she have a pirate costume?


"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Run hot water to fill the bath tub. Shows well, heater, and floor joist capacity.

Have septic pumped by your chosen guy and be there while it's done to see condition of shit box.

Is the well registered with some local agency? Banks will only finance a property around here with a registered well.

Submit a water sample from the well for testing. Local Heath unit can suggest testing companies.

Look for buried drums poking up through remote corners of the property. Banks hate private dumps.

Can you get high speed internet there? Natural gas? Cable TV?

Is the neighbor's daughter hot? Does she have a pirate costume?


"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
My bank never asked for any documentation on my well or septic system when I bought. I had them both inspected on my own just for my knowledge, but neither were required.
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I Just bought a 10 acre "farmette" about that vintage....

condition of septic

roof

water.... wet basement? can be a major problem, and not just the basement, water off the gutters and out buildings.

Electric, not up to code/old fixtures wiring/meter socket & electrical panel. I probably spent 5 grand re-wiring most of the house only keeping some of the cloth wire I couldn't get too.

As previously mentioned check out how the joists are laid out in the basement and the attic, make sure there are no spans to long unsupported. Saggy or bouncy floors.

Lead paint & asbestos.... walls, floors etc etc can be a major headache if you are planning any extensive renovation. We had allot of stuff tested, there was asbestos in the old drywall joint compound. If you just repaint it, its sealed off and ok, but working on it and getting rid of it can be a pain.
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My bank never asked for any documentation on my well or septic system when I bought. I had them both inspected on my own just for my knowledge, but neither were required.
When i bought my house (turns 70 this year) the PO to install a new septic because the old one was "too close to the well" the the bank wouldnt approve my loan. We split the cost of it to make it fair. Now i have one of those new aerobic septic systems that have the sprinklers. Fucking hate it. pump goes out about every 18 months. Sprinklers dont oscillate anymore and just make a mess. At least the area where they are stays green for most of the year.

As for buying a 70 y/o house, it isnt too bad if it was built right back in the day. Mine is pier on beam construction with shiplap diagonally on the studs. Youre in Canada so it probably wont need a new AC, but what about heating systems? Expect to replace all the switches/plugs/lights/windows/doors/roof/paint (interior and exterior). I just put new windows/doors/hardi siding on mine and it now keeps the AC/heat inside the house. I could sit on the couch and a north wind would blow the blinds inside due to shitty single pane aluminum windows from 1985.
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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When i bought my house (turns 70 this year) the PO to install a new septic because the old one was "too close to the well" the the bank wouldnt approve my loan. We split the cost of it to make it fair. Now i have one of those new aerobic septic systems that have the sprinklers. Fucking hate it. pump goes out about every 18 months. Sprinklers dont oscillate anymore and just make a mess. At least the area where they are stays green for most of the year.

As for buying a 70 y/o house, it isnt too bad if it was built right back in the day. Mine is pier on beam construction with shiplap diagonally on the studs. Youre in Canada so it probably wont need a new AC, but what about heating systems? Expect to replace all the switches/plugs/lights/windows/doors/roof/paint (interior and exterior). I just put new windows/doors/hardi siding on mine and it now keeps the AC/heat inside the house. I could sit on the couch and a north wind would blow the blinds inside due to shitty single pane aluminum windows from 1985.
Whats Simonton looking like these days? Haven't been through there since Oct of last year and some of the houses still werent fixed up from the flooding.
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Depends on how it was built and maintained. 50 years ago was 1967... I lived in a 1959 build that never needed anything... I've lived in 90s homes that needed a lot... Oir 82 now is great except for the dumb water pipes.
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I have a love/hate relationship with my old farmhouse. I like the character it has but there isn't a standard thing in it unless I've redone it. House from the 50's I'd look for and replace any aluminum wiring, or if the system has not been updated a complete rewire may be in order. If city water is available it is VERY much worth the investment not to have to mess with pumps. If it was the family's get it, you wont regret it... much.
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Old 04-19-2017, 08:39 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Whats Simonton looking like these days? Haven't been through there since Oct of last year and some of the houses still werent fixed up from the flooding.
I drive through there everyday on my way home. I would say most are back in their houses. Roper's is even back open a few days a week now. It got pretty bad.
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Old 04-19-2017, 09:01 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm going through a remodel on my grandpas old house that was built in 1950. Overall the base structure was in good shape and there were only a couple issues from the initial build (they didn't stagger the seams on the center laminated beam). They built the older houses to last compared to alot of the new ones. By the time its all said and done with remodeling/updating and fixing stuff on the house I'll be at $80-100k.

As others have said
- Asbestos test for linoleum & hvac insulation

- Plumbing condition (ability for all the fixtures to drain quickly) Also check the soil stack to make sure its not plugged (my south one was 100% plugged).

- Electrical. All of the wiring in my house was woven fabric insulation over aluminum wire. As soon as you moved the wires to even remove an outlet all the insulation would fall off (brittle). I replaced every piece of existing wiring with new romex because of this. Also if it has a glass fuses look into changing to a breaker box. Also inspect to see what all is on which circuit. In houses of that era they tended to daisy chain huge parts of the house together, and its usually random what they hooked up. The electrical side can be a huge cluster and for me it was WAY faster and easier to junk the whole thing and start over.

- Windows. Find out what is in there for windows and look for any damage around/under them. My grandpa bought the cheapest double pane windows he could and got a really crappy installer. There is alot of damage under most of the windows that I had to cut out and replace because it was completely gone. To top it off the installer just used silicone to install the windows

- Siding/Roof. Obvious stuff here. If you have to replace them don't cut corners. All the houses I've had in town had pretty old roofs and they would last. Out in the country they only seem to last 10-15 years. My next roof will be metal Decra or similar.

- Septic. Depending on where you are the rules are different. Here if the house changes hands to a non direct relative the septic must be updated. You have to have a properly sized dual compartment tank and a leech field. These can easily cost you $15k or more and around here can be deal breakers. In some cases the septic is in a place where you can't conform to the new rules so you have to move it which is even more $$$.

- Well. As was said make sure its decent and see what the quality of the water is. Also find out how deep it is since that can make fixing the pump more expensive. My dad lives 1/2 mile to the south and his well is 40-50ft deep. My place the well is over 150ft.

- Internet. Depending where you are you may not be able to get anything. My dads place is right at the very end of the line for high speed and its barely even DSL speed. My place 1/2 mile to the north is just too far to reach so my only option for now is to run satellite or a radio broadcast service they have here and neither are cheap. The kicker is they are running fiber along the highway in front of dads place to town and we can't tap into it. I'm hoping in the future we can get that service. Streaming movies is 100% out of the question.

Overall nothing was really show stoppers but the original budget was $60k, but as with almost every remodel on older houses every time you open something up you will get smacked with some kind of surprise. The electrical, windows, and associated rot were not planned for at the start. Nothing was really a knock the house down and start over issue, though if some of the issues were not taken care of after a few years it could have gotten close to that point.


TLDR......read it

Last edited by powerstroke73; 04-19-2017 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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we have a Family Ranch...

anyways.. more details I think are needed
can ya'll get city water? or does it have a well.. and how good is that water?

are you close to the city?

how old are you? do you have kids? what schools would they be going to.. etc..

how far away is emergency medical care?


City water is out, the water from the well is good. Getting the water out of the well is the issue

The house is 5 mins from a small town, 15 minutes from a suburb that has 90% of the shit I need, and 45 minutes from the big city.
Right now I'm running a welding shop on the property, but if the price of oil comes back and I get sick of being on fire, I may end up working in the city as a mech engineer again.

I'm 24, welding business is about 2 years old, that's my only commitment right now. No wife, no kids. Roommates would be an option to help offset costs.

One big factor as well is that if this place sells to someone else, I need to find a new place to operate my business. Finding this much space at this price for just a shop won't happen, never mind having a house too.

You can get internet out there for a decent price, and I'm told it'll stream movies.

Asbestos I'll have to get checked out, I know a guy that removes it for a living.
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Old 04-19-2017, 01:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sounds like a no brainer. Do it.
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Old 04-19-2017, 02:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Electric is probably the hardest to upgrade. The power panel is probably undersized and the house wiring may be old (hopefully past the fabric covered wire age). I am guessing since you use the shop for a welding business, there is sufficient power to the property.

Next in the house is the presence of leaded connector piping, or outright lead pipes.

Do a pump test on the well to make sure it provides the water you need. Insufficient water supply is a pain, not undoable, but have to add a cistern, blah blah.

Septic system is probably undersized simply because of the age. Who knows, maybe it is fine. Not much you can do but keep an eye out for soft spots in the yard and replace it when it fails. Cracking into an existing field to extend it has, in my experience, been nothing but a bigger problem. A true example of if it ain't broke...

Next stuff is roof, heat, hot water, etc. All that stuff can be upgraded, just a little time and money.

Foundation? Unless it is wood on soil, it is probably fine after all this time. The home inspector will look at it.
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