Old house or new house?

Which do you prefer and why? We live in the Bay Area, in case that matters.

I’ll be back later with some more backstory.

I designed (and had built) my last two houses, so I guess, new.

I love the architectural feel of old houses, but I just can’t stand the upkeep. New, please.

Depends on what you mean by “old” and “new”. (See story below the dashed lines for some perspective.)

I live in the USA on the east coast, and I’ve always lived in what I’ve thought of as older houses - say, 100 to 50 years old. The current house is the first one that I’ve lived in as an adult that is not older than I am, but that’s because I’m getting to be a bit of a geezer (I’m 63; the house is only 55).

I have nothing against new houses; it’s just that the one I ended up liking / being able to afford happened to be older ones.

My wife works for a British firm, and one day one of her Coworkers from the UK was visiting us. We were talking about older structures in the UK and she told us a story of a time when she and her husband were playing tourist in the Boston area of the US. They were touring a historic house, which the curator stated proudly was “over two hundred and fifty years old”.

She said that she and her husband looked at each other in confusion before she replied “Our house is three hundred years old.”

(Life’s like that in the UK.)

Old houses have more character plus, they’re on the market for a lower cost. So that’s where we’ll be living for a while. On the other hand, new houses have the potential to be incredibly well-designed. Or they can be a friggin’ McMansion.

I prefer houses built at least 80 years ago, but will tolerate them built up to 60 years ago. I have yet to actually enjoy a house or apartment built after 1950.

For at least 50 years, I’ve only lived in and/or owned older houses. A big reason for that has been that I prefer living in well-established areas, where it’s hard to find vacant blocks of land.

We live in an 80-year-old house. It has lots of character, which in a real estate context means “drafts and mice.” :smiley:


I want something that was built when “craftsmanship” actually meant something. You shouldn’t need to call Mike Holmes to get something built well.

I’m very happy that I’m only renting a four year old house as its build quality is utter crap. Every room has nails popping out of the drywall, walls are wavy, the electrician must have suffered from vertigo as none of the receptacles or switches are level/plumb, and the “modern” laminated wood flooring dents if you drop a Q-Tip.

My dream house is a vintage craftsman bungalow(as seen in the movie… well, easier to list the movies set since the late 20th century that didn’t have one). That said, until I have a lot more money than I do now I want something that’s not as likely to be a money pit. I’ve liked the two older houses I’ve lived in (both rentals) but wished the owners had modernized the kitchens a lot more.

Our house is about 60 yrs old and is an odd shaped but fairly large lot carved off from a much older house that’s behind ours.

Honestly I would prefer a newer house with larger rooms and less issues with our trees eating the plumbing but in this area buying a new house means a yard the size of a postage stamp so I’ll deal with the issues in order to have space for the two high energy dogs to chase each other around the back yard.

What I wouldn’t want are what my family called “Topsy houses” (cause they just growed). I have some friends and family who own these and even though a couple of them are nice they have such weird floor plans- you go through a bedroom to get to the kitchen or there’s a bathroom off the dining room type stuff.

This perfectly describes my 160 year old house. The longer I live in it, the more I appreciate the completely boring suburban house I was raised in – the one that didn’t have mysterious cold drafts and ancient field stone foundations permeable to mice and moisture.

My favorite era in housing is probably late Victorian through the early 20’s when they were building houses with big rooms and ten foot ceilings with lots of moldings and architectural details. (I’m not at all an expert in architecture so I can’t really date it more precisely than that.) I guess they were probably that era’s McMansions, but they had * style *. There are lots of houses like that in the Boston suburbs, but not as many as far out as I am.

Of course, in the Bay area, an old house probably is 1910.

I was going to say that it depends on your area, because Calgary has had crazy growth spurts that resulted in new houses just being thrown together, but it appears that that is not unique to this area.

Our house we bought a year and a half ago is about 40 years old, the same age as the house we sold. We find that about the perfect age for a house and neighbourhood - the houses have settled in nicely, any defects have long been fixed, the houses were built better in the first place, and the area itself has nice big trees and well-grown yards.

Our house in particular needs the attic insulated, but that’s the work of a weekend to update it. There can be issues with plumbing and electrical systems with older houses, but I’ll still take them over a boom-year house that may or may not actually have the drain on the sink attached to anything (true story).

My presnt house is from 1923-I am well and truly tired of it.
Old is NOT necessarily good. Thank God w’ve replaced just about everything from the “good old days”-like old wiring, galvanized pipe, etc.
I much prefer a modern house!

Either a 20-50 year old house (old enough to have the kinks worked out, and the trees grown) or I want a new house that I had built.

What I really really don’t want is a new house build en masse on land that used to be a farm field. No character, no landscaping, and I have to trust that the contractors did the job right. I’ve heard way to many nightmare stories about new subdivision homes.

Old, always.

Craftsmanship was wonderful, design was exciting and fabulous, and I prefer how the space is carved up, instead of the new-style open concept.

My Victorian house was built in 1879, and while the foundation, etc., has been updated, the interior was last updated in 1980-ish, with wallpaper on paneling on plaster slats. The plaster has been, thankfully, removed.

I plan on working on this house for the rest of my life, and restoring it to it’s former beauty. But that’s how I roll :slight_smile:

I bought an older one- build in the '60s.

I liked the larger lots, older trees, established neighborhoods and solid construction. I added insulation and new windows.

I didn’t get the marble kitchen or the jacuzzi bathtub that the new ones come with, but I didn’t want those.

I prefer Craftsman-style and Mid-Century Modern ranch houses architecturally, though both generally lack in the kitchen layout unless they’ve been extensively retooled. I’ve seen enough construction shortcuts and defects in new houses (those built in the mid-'Eighties on) that I would be very wary of buying a newer house unless I knew the contractor, and have no interest in buying an utterly indistinguishable cookie-cutter home in a subdivision consisting of four patterns with minor variations in desert tan and the already-dated stone facade look. Most newer houses also suffer from the “big box” mentality of residential architecture, to wit that it is preferable to have the space broken up into a bunch of smaller rooms with space wasted on giant closets and a grossly outsized master suite than attention to traffic flow and good sight lines. Most contemporary homes just seem badly (if at all) thought out, and are soulless little collections of drywall boxes stuck together like a toddler’s Duplo structure.


New construction - never. In a development the builder is out to save money, so I’d want to be watching them every second. My old officemate got custom new construction, and though he had an electricians license in NY and knew far more than most about construction, he had to be at the site all the time. “Um, the plans say the window goes over there, not where you are putting it.”

My wife grew up in a 130 year old house, and we lived in one slightly older for a while. They have their good points - character, high ceilings, etc., but we found that any time we wanted something as simple as new blinds we would have to get them custom made. I almost consider our house now new, relatively speaking, but it is 55 years old.
The real reason I prefer old in the sense of not new construction is the wider range of choice and the ability to see the house with minimal trickery. They were doing things like showing the bathroom overlooking a nearby liquor store without curtains to increase the light, taking doors off to make the rooms seem bigger, and showing the master bedroom with a tiny bed.