Buying a Turn of the Century Home

Some of Spokane's Best Neighborhoods

September 9, 2019 by Rob

I have a love for older homes, the craftsmanship of homebuilders of the era was fantastic, and it was a time when we were still using natural materials so I feel there is an innate sense of sustainability. I knew as I was starting to create content, that would be helpful for home owners, I wanted to talk about historic homes. Because living in a home built in 1910 vs one built in 2010 is drastically different; in both design, how we live in the home, and also in what the regular maintenance schedule looks like. And living in an old home is fantastic until you get behind on maintenance.

Having a love for old homes it was a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Gene Brake, a local Realtor who is heavily involved in historic preservation.

Gene quickly points out the quality of build and materials used. For me, and I’m not sure I articulated it well, but with components that were used at the turn of the century; wood windows, wood siding, metal pipe, etc. There is perhaps more maintenance than many modern synthetic alternatives like vinyl windows and siding, that require no paint whatsoever. But the trade off for the regular maintenance is a system that will last the rest of my life. The wood windows on my home are 90 years old, and are great, while the few vinyl windows we have that have had a tenth that life are already failing.

For me a little maintenance is a small price to pay for the longer life and using materials that are sustainable. Maintenance I know is a deal breaker for a lot of folks, the other element that I see people getting hung up on Gene addressed early on, that if you want an open concept and modern feel you should be looking at a newer home. It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to change the feel of a turn of the century home. Adding a support beam and knocking out a wall would obviously open the space up but often times as modifications are made the style of the home isn’t going to feel cohesive.

If you want a blank canvas to do with whatever you like, you probably want to look at a modern home, but with a turn of the century home we really need to surrender a little to the character of the home and let it be what it is. Not to say there isn’t room for modern updates, there is noting wrong with a man cave with a nice media wall or having modern appliances, but the character and style of the home should be considered with each project.

If you’re working to renovate and older home hop over to the renovation page to learn a little more about our approach, and even if you’re in the early stages of creating a vision feel free to reach out. I love getting the chance to walk through older properties and am happy to share any insights I have.


Written By Rob

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Selkirk Country offers a range of home inspection and general contracting services. We are uniquely adept to serving clients with turn-of-the-century or mid-century homes. We have a sound understanding of building science and embrace historic preservation. Through the inspetion process we're also able to support with additional services like radon detection and sew scope, eliminating the need to call out several specialist and saving our clients time and money.

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