For where we live, our house is considered old. Built in the 80’s (that’s 1980’s, not 1880’s!), we know that compared to many parts of the country our house is a spring chicken. But around here, it’s old enough that it actually can be a bit of a headache at times.
Headaches From Older Homes
Construction Standards Have Changed
Anyone who has ever hired someone or done DIY work on a house that’s more than a few years old will probably be able to commiserate here. Did you know:
- standard sizes for bathroom cabinets have shrunk by ~2inches over the last 25 years?
- exhaust fans in the bathroom have also undergone a lot of changes and can be tough to replace individual parts on
- bathtubs and showers all seem to have super-sized to accomodate our super-sized frames – but that can be tough when the actual square footage in your bathroom hasn’t increased.
These are actually just small potatoes compared to the changes that have taken place in the Florida Building Code covering roofing and exterior construction. If you’re in Florida and your house was built before 2002, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to constantly defend it because…
Insurance Companies Want Nothing To Do With You
Florida is a highly regulated state when it comes to homeowner’s insurance as rate increases need to be approved by the Florida State legislature. I’m not sure if this train-wreck of public/private interaction pervades in every state, but here it means that if you have an older home – that’s older than 2002! – the insurers probably don’t want you on their rolls. But why?
- Your home might not be worth enough to make it worth their while. When we recently gathered quotes in deciding to self-insure part of our home this summer, we were told by some companies that they would only insure us if we wanted to buy $400K worth of coverage. Seeing as our house is worth ~$170K these days, the only thing that buying $400K worth of coverage would do is increase our hurricane deductible to $8000 from $3300 while paying higher premiums for that luxury. Thanks, but no thanks.
- Your home looks riskier on paper. Hip roofs and wood frame construction have been made so passe by the building code changes that older homes (which have these styles of construction) get lumped into a different baseline risk calculation. What does that mean?
It means that we have to defend our home. We get letters demanding a certification of the remaining “roof life”, and can only qualify for discounts on our premiums after we submit to yet another wind mitigation inspection that proves the staples attaching our roof sheathing are conforming to modern standards.
Ours conform to modern standards, but we’ve paid over $600 in inspections to certify that (and qualify for insurance premium deductions) on our home and our duplex over the past 3 years. The premium discounts we’ve received covered those inspection costs and then some with the savings, but the sheer number of inspections gets a bit ridiculous.
Honestly, dealing with the insurance company can be exhausting. Our most recent renewal on the duplex the insurance company waited until the last minute to approve our most recent roof life certification to even accept that they would insure the property. Period.
But even with all of that, there’s still a LOT that we love about our older home.
The Best Parts About An Older Home
You Get More of a Yard
Older homes generally come with older lots, which tend to have a greater proportion of outdoor space. For example, our 1,100 sqft home sits on a lake where the lot we’re on is about 1/4 of an acre. Not too far from us, a newer development squeezed 1700+ sqft homes on lots that are less than 1/10 of an acre so they could have as many “waterview” lots as possible. There’s barely a walkway between the homes in that neighborhood, and the front and back yards are barely there as well.
You Have More Old Growth
So many new homes are built on lots that were completely razed, so the trees end up being tiny saplings that will take decades to grow in properly. In contrast, we’ve got The Tree – a 50+ year old live oak tree that our house was built around, not vice versa. We love the tree and the charm and shade it brings to our front yard.
Imperfection Causes Less Stress Than Perfection
Our house has so many tiny (and not so tiny – like our cookie problem) imperfections, that when something small like a ding or a scratch happens it doesn’t really phase me. But I were in a big beautiful brand new house like Crystal at Budgeting In The Fun Stuff, you can bet I’d probably be stressing out about damage to the perfect new stove top as well.
So there you have it. While there are a few days where I get annoyed with insurers, there are so many more when I love the space, the layout, feeling like we’re a part of the land rather than part of a development. In balance, there is much more love for our home’s age than disdain.
Do you have an older home? What are some of the things you love and hate about your home’s age?