When we were approved for our first mortgage, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was warned that buying a centennial home could be trouble, so naturally we got insurance. What I didn’t expect was the amount of issues that our home insurance did not cover: termites and other pest control, cleanup & restoration services and other medical needs associated with fixing up this old house. Fortunately, being a plumber, I was able to do a lot of the work myself, but by the end of it all I could have probably used a hair transplant. In the end, that timeshare idea my wife floated started to make sense.

Asbestos Creeps In

One of the first problems we encountered was one that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. It turned out that asbestos was used as insulation material, tucked away in walls of our “new” home. This didn’t concern the family living before us, since they were not too big on renovations. But when you’re buying an old house, it’s kind of a prerequisite to arm yourself with ideas of blasting through walls in order to update its look and functionality. That’s where asbestos causes all the trouble. If you’re blasting through walls with asbestos insulation you could easily get lung cancer. Asbestos removal alone cost us five thousand dollars, and it only covered a couple of walls on this over-aged castle.

In Company Of Termites



Although asbestos was the most dangerous problem we encountered, the most frustrating one were termites. These enemies of humanity were slowly eating through the floor and biting down the structural foundations. And though we heard some cracking noises at times during the night, we were not ready to acknowledge termites as the main culprit. But they didn’t care about our feelings – one morning upon waking up I heard my wife scream. I quickly ran to the kitchen only to find her looking at a swarm of termites. Hundreds of them broke through a particularly fragile part of the wall and stationed themselves on the ceiling. We had to stay at our friends house for a week, as the exterminator got rid of them for the time being.

A Moldy Experience



A few months passed after we got rid of abestos and the termites, and we felt it was time to smash through the wall dividing the kitchen and the living room to give the living space a more contemporary look. But our work was postponed by a wild storm and threats of flood that lasted for a couple of days. This is when I, and reluctantly my wife as well, had to acknowledge we ran head first into a problem that should not have been ours in the first place. The walls were simply too old to last the onslaught of rain and we soon had to deal with mold coming from all corners of the house. The awful moldy stench radiating from the basement was the ultimate warning that we were way over our heads. So guess what – whole-home mold remediation was the only thing that could save the place from rotting down completely. Another four thousand bucks out the window.

A Word To The Wise

Overall, the beautiful old house that won us over with its wooden surface and beautiful rustic style proved to be quite a headache. It took us a year and a half plus additional $13 000 to fix it into a pleasant home. But we’re not out of the woodworks yet, as the structural supports are getting older and every wave of climate change brings a new question mark of its own.

There is a warning in this story, and I hope it targets the right audience. Unless you’re completely mesmerized by that old wooden palace up on the hill, try to shape your house-buying decision with a pragmatic approach. Because when the hypnotic trance evaporates, you’ll be left off feeling smarter than usual.