OHJ August 2019

Old House Journal August 2019

Editor's Note: The terror of house-buying

After the long winter and a cold, wet March that lasted 10 weeks, I found myself scavenging a package of potting soil from a storage chest on the kitchen porch, which I approached from the patio. That’s when I spotted trouble: open joints, displacement, and rot in the eaves of the porch roof. I raised an eyebrow, I sighed—and that’s it. No fear of the unknown. No panic that the work would mushroom. I know that wooden houses need regular upkeep and cyclical repairs. But my big-ticket renovations on this house are, thankfully, over and done.

I’m decades removed from house trauma, which admittedly I brought upon myself. My house, a wonderful shingled pile that I love, was once so far gone, it was on the market as a teardown. Before that, I’d restored a very damaged limestone row house in Brooklyn. Oh the memories.

They came back to me last weekend, when I was invited to tag along on the inspection of a house that my son, a first-time home buyer, is hoping will be his. Nothing like watching your kid experience turmoil to remind you of your own. Buying a house is as terrifying as ever: Can we really afford this? How serious is that crack? Why are the houses in our range puny, ugly, or unlivable? What if we take a day to decide and lose out? Do I smell mildew? And the big one: Do we really want to spend every weekend in the foreseeable future working on the house?

After the visit, I tried to be judicious in voicing my opinion, balancing pros and cons. (The location is great and they can move right in; maybe the rest is fixable, right?) It’s hard not to be excited: a home of their own! Here come my good memories—of freedom, then again rootedness, of nest-building, pride . . . and picking a paint color! There’s nothing like working on your own home, watching improvements take shape, and knowing you’ll leave it better than you found it.

~ Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal

Look below to see stories from this issue.

Products of the Week

crown point kitchen

Crown Point Cabinetry

Crown Point Cabinetry offers custom cabinets for period style kitchens, baths, offices, laundry rooms, home bars and more. Styles include Shaker, Arts & Crafts, Early American, Victorian and Transitional.