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Your Oldest Home inspected?

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I, for one, would love to hear about your oldest homes inspected to date and some of its outstanding features.

Mine was a 200 year old Huguenot estate home which was in either Chesterfield or Powhatan Counties of Virginia.

It was a red brick home.

The celler that had the look and feel of a catacomb. It had been dug out in several areas and had also experienced moisture intrusion and erosion in the cellar. My main concern was how close the excavation to dig out the cellar had come to the masonry footings. (It's best to not dig any closer than a 45 degree angle from the bottom of a footing.) Miraculously, the house had not settled?

The floor framing system consisted of whole debarked only on the side which received the flooring planks.

This home, while big, was actually quite simple. It was well maintained, but not drestically renovated or altered.

That was about five years ago so I suppose it's about 205 or 206 now.

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4600 square foot 104 year - well, it would be 109 years old now - craftsman for Dan Wilson, catcher for the Mariners. Big protruding timbers, clinker brick on the outside to the second level. Huge basement and attic. Lots of very nice Port Orford Cedar. Snuggled neatly into a hillside lot.

Seattle was founded in 1851. There was a really big fire in the city over a hundred years ago and a big re-grade project in the early part of the 20th century called the Denny Regrade - where a big chunk of hillside was dragged out into the sound to form much of what downtown is built on - removed most buildings older than that or caused them to be moved. Many of them never survived subsequent remodels or zoning.

I gotta get offa here. I'm supposed to be typing up this report and I've been playing hooky from work for about 3 hours.



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This house was from 1740. It is one of the oldest homes in Morristown, NJ and is still a private residence. The barn building was also really cool.

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The tree at the front corner of the house had been removed because the roots were destroying the stone foundation.

The living room fireplace was awesome.

There was a kitchen on the other side of the fireplace. It was a modern kitchen that did not fit with the house so I did not take any photos. Otherwise the house was mostly original except that a bathroom was added on the second floor.

No signs of the orignally outhouse remained!

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New Jersey; 1654 Swedish/Finnish log structure.

New Jersey; 1675 Dutch farm.

Pennsylvania; 1682 Quaker farm. Outbuildings also from the late 17th/early 18th century including a jail with the original doors and hasps. The original owner was the constable for the township.


I recently sold my last home that I meticulously restored, built in 1690.

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Bill, have you actually been to Europe and taken in some 400 and 500 year old homes that you can tell us about?

On my way back from the Boston Marathon (my brother in-law ran in it) I stopped to behold an old church in a small town in Connecticut (I love old church architecture) and this particular church had the front door from its mother-church in England. It was dated in the late 1500's. I was amazed.

And speaking of church architecture, if any of you ever make it to Washington, DC you are really missing something to not go see the National Cathedral. It took 80 years to build and is just incredible. Words cannot possibly do that building justice. The stonework and stained glass has got to be some of the finest workmanship in America. I've been to the Vanderbilt mansions in Ashville and Newport and the National Cathedral is as good if not better.

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Recently did an inspection to help the owner (the house is not for sale) identify and prioritize maintenance issues on this 1832 plantation/farmhouse in the Black Belt of Alabama. Home has been in the current owners family since 1852 and has been occupied for its entire existance. Much of the furniture is original. The home sits on 3000 acres of prime timber, cattle and row crop land. The dogtrot cabin is said to be in its original location, and is very rare (the cabin predates the home by a good bit). 174 years is just about as old as it gets in this area, as many homes did not survive the 'conflict with the Federals'.

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100 years is about the oldest we have out here in AZ, and they are no fun to inspect. No foundations to speak of, just timbers on grade, but suprisingly termite free, the old wood was pretty good.

I grew up in a house in Maryland built in 1794 on 56 acres, it was quite a place, a long term rennovation project for my Dad, who eventually ran away screaming. My mom sold it in 1976, too much upkeep. It was a good home inspection education for me, I learned alot over the years from my dad and from that house. It wasn't "call a licensed contractor", it was fix it yourself. If you don't know how, figure it out.

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Same here, not many 'old' homes left in Houston. We do a handful each year in the 1910 to 1930 range. Many inspectors in this area won't touch 'em, but I find them interesting. In some of the 1940 to 1960's neighborhoods, their razing the ranch style homes and building 4-7k sq.ft. McMansions.

I've often told Clients the home that was here before was built better than this new one you're about to buy.

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1710 in Salem. Someone turned it into 4 condos. Downtown in the histerical district. Had a "underground railway escape tunnel" emptied out across the street. Basement support wood was covered with a cement slurry? Inaccessible!! attic looked like an upside down wooden ship. Did not dare make any structural comments--been standing for 300 years --looked pretty good. Mechanicals were fairly new (60s). Not a straight line in the building! Not my cup of Guinness[:-party]

I do 1800s stuff all the time. There is a lot of old houses in my area. Needham (areas) histerical societies will not let you knock them down---big fight. You can move them, almost impossible to collapse.

Yesturday, I Did a 1845 Mansard roofed mini victorian? What a adventure. Had three additions from 1900+1974+1986. Fixable structural issues + mechanicals fairly new 74+86. Owners grandmother was born in the house. She was not about to knock it down.

House like that would be a great teaching venue. Parachute inspectors in and conduct a week long class.[:-banghea Lots of Guinness.[:-party]

Jack Ahern Needham on the Charles


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1760's in Kennenbunk,Maine and 1760's in York,Maine. Great time inspecting these houses. Kings Pine with dowels for attic sheathing,Beehive fireplace,Indian Shutters in the windows. In the Basement/Crawlspace hand hewed joists with the bark still on etc.etc.One house the buyers wife made me cringe as she talked about remodeling for walk-in closets and other improvements. I would feel honored to be a caretaker for these old houses and not bust out walls.Inspected loads of houses from the 1800's. Would show you photos but I'm in Florida until end of March.

John Callan


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I did a partial inspection on The Fairbanks House (Dedham,MA). 1636. Oldest wood frame bldg in the US. I did a full inspection on the Caretaker's house next door as well. (Sears Kit House). The 'partial' was in the cellar/crawl of the old bomber. The upper portions were 'toured' with just me and one person (a volunteer). I 'inspected' it but they are very picky about poking around in it of course. Did carefully review the exterior as well.

They had hired a structural engineer so that they could factor exactly how many people can enter the home at a time. His report was interesting. (Huge binder, very thick).

I believe the next oldest house was in Attleboro, MA (1640 or something). The Boston-area boys and New England boys routinely hit old houses.

Routinely we hit houses from mid 1800's, many from late 1800's, turn-of-the-century.

You get into 'bents', 'summer beams', round-stone vs flatter-stone foundations, frost-heave effects from a couple of hundred years, Rumford fireplaces (dime a dozen around here), clapboards from the date of construction, chimney issues.

This is a fun area to inspect in.

Did the Parson's house here in Walpole (United Church) and it had rafters from an original church building that had been torn down. Interesting.

Another great place to inspect is New Bedford, MA. You can run into some odd stuff in the attics, basements in this former whaling capital of the US.

I also inspected a house in Plainfield, NJ that was revolutionary-war era.

The older I get the more I appreciate a nice small 60's ranch inspection....vacant and no one home..

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