I have an addiction. I am writing this to let you know you are not alone if you share this addiction. I am obsessed with houses. Especially old houses. The sight of an old house sitting alone and empty is fascinating at the very least. An old house is a complete story in itself. Staring out at you with those cute little window-eyes. The broad smile of a veranda.
I have been house-hunting since I was five. Even when I don’t need a house, it calms me to browse the MLS listings, clicking through photo after photo of loft attic spaces, screened porches, and river rock fireplaces. Only those houses that are older, run-down, and unique capture my attention. I wonder why they have been so heartlessly deserted. I wonder how they ended up for sale or abandoned after someone put so much effort into designing a home for themselves. I am perplexed that there are families living on the streets while so many houses sit empty. And, I am floored that someone would choose to live in a house costing hundreds of thousands that the developers of today slapped together overnight with no regard for quality or character, just because it is “brand new.”
This habit drives people crazy. They just don’t get the Old House Love. “You would have to tear it down and start over.” “The plumbing and electricity would have to be completely replaced.” “Yeah, it’s perfect, for vagrants.” “That house looks haunted as hell.”
Ok, first of all, I never said I wanted to BUY every single house, although maybe I would if I could. Nor do I necessarilly want to “fix” them. Sure, a whole plethora of possibility opens when I tiptoe up to an old house and peer in the windows. Before me lies an odyssey of what could be. This will never translate into action in most cases, but the potential energy of an unrenovated building is certainly gripping.
Entrepreneurs will take it a step further. This is where old house love meets up with business sense. If your vision includes turning a profit, fantastic! Flipping houses is trendy. If you have the imagination, run with it. Just make sure to calculate how much everything will cost — the original cost of the house, anything that may have to be brought up to code, all the improvements that you envision, plus all those added costs that creep up on you when you buy a house — and subtract it from your projected sale price. Meanwhile, you can enjoy living in your soon-to-be masterpiece while you make the vision come to life.