Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Picking a New House

After 20 years in the same house, my wife, 5 year-old daughter and I finally moved. A 4-year search from Providence to South Kingstown brought us only 3 blocks from where we were. The effort of picking and moving into a house was daunting.  There were so many things to consider: affordability; condition, needs and wants; packing, sorting and tossing out the old; and changing the address of everything.


So what do you look for and what do you do before and after you move in?  There are volumes of books web pages about it, but few talk about the nuts and bolts of what to consider.



The most important thing to consider is the grouping of houses.  Many cluster houses from the 1850’s on where built as developments.  Seeing how each house evolved is not only interesting (maybe just me) but better yet it provides a litmus test of how buildings are performing.  Everything from the poor supporting soils junk materials begin to fail within the first 15 years.  Neighbors are a great resource for things like poor water quality and pressure, noise, and local amenities.  So talk to them.


Picking the House

The house has to fit you.  Do you like old?  If you like things fresh and straight, get a new one.  Don’t try to make an old house new.  My wife likes new so we compromise with the 19th century.  Old house do not always need more work than a new one.  There are plenty of new houses with major problems.


A house inspection is useful but limited.  Inspectors have to be more thorough than a checklist. Just viewing a cracked foundation does not suggest major problems, but the why and how long ago is the most important.  A professional or specialist should follow up on problems.


The Price

Price is everything these days.  It’s a buyers market, which means there can be a lot of garbage out there.  So make sure you do your homework.  Repair estimates are always a good bargaining chip.xz


Before the Move

Once you have sealed the deal, the plan has to kick in.  Portion out the responsibilities.  Be realistic.  Take time off from work.  Shuffle the kids to friends.  Get friends to help but be prepared for them.  Do not have them show up with nothing done or nothing planned to do.


Prepping the House

The most essential thing is getting to know the house and how it performs.  The first thing I did was an energy audit.  The blower door test was astounding.  While I had thought my storm windows were poor, the blower door test revealed there where holes all over the house and certain insulated areas were performing poorly.  You can also judge post repair performance with a blower door test.


The floors were next.  The existing floors had plenty of scratches, but the finish was relatively sound.  We buffed and coated them with an amazing polymerized tung oil finish.  It coats on bare wood as well as a previously finished surfaces.  Not sanding also saves the floor for a few more decades.  They look stunningly old.


Paint what you need to and leave the rest.  You will learn what you want, like and what color works best for the time of day.  The bedrooms were the most important for us.  If you have enough rooms, do nothing, then do a few rooms at a time, over time.


Hire a cleaning crew.


After the Move

Enjoying life is tough with a lot on your plate. But the most important thing is to make a good plan and be incredibly realistic.  Here, we are on a 6-month plan to tighten up the house before the winter and paint the rooms.  Things like peeling exterior paint can wait but failing gutters cannot.  And do not be freaked out by lead.  Even peeling, chalking, alligatoring or failing finishes can be kept clean without repainting.  Beyond the immediate, we have the 10-year plan to catch up to a maintenance plan.  That does not seem too long, does it?

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