This Old House Needs Work: Buy It or Leave It?

by hookedonhouses on March 17, 2010

Pittsburgh house-exterior

Areader named Lisa wrote me about an old house she found in Pittsburg, Kansas, that she’d like to “save.” It’s in a great historic neighborhood where the houses around it are selling for much more. This one is on the market for only $149,900 and has a lot of things going for it: over 3,000 square feet of living space, to start with, including 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. Marble in the entry. Hardwood floors under the carpet. Two fireplaces. A big yard.

Pittsburgh house-staircase

However, it also has a lot of strikes against it. Outdated decor (an understatement). Cracks in the walls. What appears to be years of neglect.

Pittsburgh house-arched window

Lisa says the house looked worse in person than in the photos (possibly because these are a little blurry?). “I was so sad after walking through this house. I just couldn’t understand how anyone could let this beautiful house get as bad as it was.”

Pittsburgh house-kitchen

She likes the kitchen, which she considers “a blank slate.” Other rooms in the house are, well, not quite as blank as far as slates go:

Pittsburgh house-fireplace

I actually like this original green-tiled bathroom. It’s like stepping back in time! Looks like there’s an arched wall over the tub in here, too:

Pittsburgh house-green bath

Lisa says she can’t stop fantasizing about saving the house: “I wish I could be the one to breathe life back into this historic home.” But, she asks, do we think it’s worth saving? “What would you do?” Cast your vote below and tell her!

You can see the rest of the photos and get more information about the house from the listing.

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maya | springtree road March 17, 2010 at 7:09 am

first i would find out how far gone it is structurally. but if i had the time, money & energy to fix it, i most definitely would. and i would certainly try to negotiate a lower price.

it’s a gorgeous house – that kitchen! and it could be absolutely beautiful.
.-= maya | springtree road´s last blog ..No. 1A Kodak Jr. =-.

LoveFeast Table March 17, 2010 at 7:11 am

You can’t find a new house with such personality and possibility! A good contractor can have this place in blank slate mode in no time! Then you will be able to breath beautiful like back into these bones!! And the price?!! Can’t be beat in my mind!
~kristin
.-= LoveFeast Table´s last blog ..Peanut Butter Cookie Days =-.

molly b March 17, 2010 at 7:23 am

It reminds me of houses I have passed up in three cities. They still haunt me, a little bit. :-) I don’t know if the Pittsburgh market is really depressed or what, but that sounds like a great price just about anywhere.

Connie @ Hartwood Roses March 17, 2010 at 7:25 am

I had this exact same discussion with myself (and my husband) 8 years ago. My dream house was for sale, and it needed a complete renovation. I had watched this house for 10 years, dreaming about what life would be like if it was ours. Our decision … we closed our eyes, held our noses, and jumped in over our heads. Our place still isn’t finished, but it’s livable, it’s sound, and it’s OURS. I love it, and I’m thankful every morning I wake up here.

The moral of this story: If this house (or any house) is a place that will make you happy, buy it and do whatever it takes to fix it. If you have to stop to think about the resale potential, or any other perceived obstacle, it’s probably not the right move. Don’t buy it to save it — buy it because you love it.
.-= Connie @ Hartwood Roses´s last blog ..Some Not-So-Subtle Signs of Spring. =-.

Nou March 17, 2010 at 7:26 am

I’d take it on in a heartbeat! Of course, get an inspection first. But if you have the spare cash, it’d be a great project. Good luck!
.-= Nou´s last blog ..Gone Dishin’ =-.

Katie March 17, 2010 at 7:40 am

Oh I’m tingling….this looks like it could be a fun one!!
.-= Katie´s last blog ..Busy Day =-.

Jeannine @ Small and Chic March 17, 2010 at 7:41 am

Don’t you think location and motivation has to factor in?

Pittsburgh is a big place…if this diamond in the rough is in a good neighborhood and finances aren’t an issue, I’d say go for it. If the neighborhood is in transition, I think you have to factor in holding the house for quite some time.

What’s the motivation? Is she looking to invest and then return a profit or is she looking for a forever home?
.-= Jeannine @ Small and Chic´s last blog ..What’s your style when making decor decisions? =-.

Jules March 17, 2010 at 7:47 am

Buy it…plus Pittsburgh is one of the few markets where real estate has held its value…probably because it never inflated to start with! Oh, and I live outside of Pittsburgh, so I’m a little partial. :)

Janell Beals March 17, 2010 at 7:58 am

Given the state of the decor I suspect electrical and plumbing would have to be addressed along with updating the look, I’d go for it as long as there were no big structural issues. And the neighborhood? Big yard, big old house, lots of things to be drawn to! Janell
.-= Janell Beals´s last blog ..Guest Blogging At Pure Style Home + Map Painting Progress =-.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions March 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

I think that as long as there is no structural issues, it is all just bringing the interior up-to-date. Wallpaper can be removed and paint can do wonders {and maybe redoing that bathroom}.

Kaye March 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

This is in Pittsburg, Kansas, not Pittsburg, PA.

It looks like an amazing house.

hookedonhouses March 17, 2010 at 8:12 am

Kaye–You’re right! I just assumed it was PA. Better change that. Thanks! -Julia

Catherine March 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

Why, that’d be an affordable place for my daycare…and with plenty of room!

Begoña March 17, 2010 at 8:10 am

Ask for the estructural issues and if they are good and you have the money to redoit, buy it buy it buy. Dont care abour the outdated decoration, nothing so bad I can of paint can solve. I say buy it buy it

hookedonhouses March 17, 2010 at 8:11 am

There are cracks in the walls, she says, so there may be structural issues here. She definitely would have to get an inspection. -Julia

Emily@remodelingthislife March 17, 2010 at 8:13 am

if she doesn’t buy it, i might :)
.-= Emily@remodelingthislife´s last blog ..New Adventures With Feathered Friends =-.

Lauryn March 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

I’m planning to check out a fixer upper in my neighborhood this weekend. It was built in the late 60′s and the previous owner was starting renovation when it was foreclosed on. The bathrooms are completely original and so outdated I giggled when I saw the photos. Ripping the stuff out yourself (make sure you know what you’re doing though) and clearing it will cut down the cost of remodeling if you’re hiring someone. I came across this article while researching how to rehab a house and even if you don’t plan to do it to resell it has a lot of really good tips to help you find out if the place is a fixer upper or a money pit.

http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infhomesale/infhomerehab.html

So basically if you love the place, if it’s structurally sound (ie: not a money pit), then go for it!

Debbie March 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

Absolutely buy it, especially if it is in a neighborhood of more expensive homes. Work from the inside out so check the structural, electric,plumbing and HVAC. In my first house, I didn’t have a lot of money so I pulled up the carpets, waxed the floors instead of refinishing (seven months pregnant, another story) and gave it a good coat of paint. I later sold the house for one and a half times what I paid for it which allowed me to buy another fixer upper which quadrupled in value in the last fifteen years! I was a stay at home mom and I figured that if my house was appreciating a fourth of it’s value every year then that was my salary. It may not appreciate that rapidly in this market, but once you update it even a little bit in that neighborhood, you should have instant equity! Oh, and it looks like it might be an estate so see if you can get a repair ALLOWANCE to cover any big issues once you have an inspection. If not, see if they will allow you to roll a repair allowance into your loan (increase the sales price to cover any repairs, especially any safety issues). YEA! Have fun! Wish I could come and help you!

Richella at Imparting Grace March 17, 2010 at 8:27 am

What a beautiful house! It looks as if most of what it needs is cosmetic. . . the fun part of remodeling!

Shannon March 17, 2010 at 8:27 am

I think we have spoken. I agree, definitely do an inspection. And find a good inspector with many years of experience. There are so many hacks out there. Hopefully, the cracks aren’t severe. I think it has such great curb appeal. And once you rip all that horribly dated decor, I think you’ll be surprised how easy it will be to update. I think new counters, tile and updated cabinet hardware would make a world of difference in the kitchen. And the bathroom didn’t seem too bad either. Go for it!!
.-= Shannon´s last blog ..Look What I Made, Mom! =-.

Mike March 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

Holy crap, there is a lot of work to be done here! But it would be worth it – this place seems to have great bones. It’s a little imposing outside with all that dark paint, so I’d probably lighten up the outside of the house.

WHERE ON EARTH did they manage to find drapery fabric that exactly matches the wallpaper?!?!?

I love the porte cochere, too. I say buy it and fix it up!

PlantingOaks March 17, 2010 at 8:29 am

From those pictures, the problems with that house are wallpaper, paint, and carpet. While stripping trim is a pain, the others are so, so fixable.

Cracks in the walls aren’t necessarily a problem either. And old house will have settled. What you want to find out is why it settled, and whether it’s still settling. If the foundation looks solid, and there isn’t water damage, I would not worry about cracks in walls. Also, plaster cracks *much* more easily than drywall, but it also a lot nicer, particularly if you’re trying to strip wallpaper off of it!

The things you really want to look at are mechanical like electric and heating. Electric standards have gone through a lot of changes. It’s possible the entire house is on one or two circuits. Expect to re-run things. Insulation is also a killer. Some places, like an attic, are easy to blow more into, but insulating plaster walls after the fact is tricky, because you can’t really put in a vapor barrier. There are injected foams that provide their own vapor barrier, but they are not a diy proposal.

So, if an inspector says the bones are good, and the space works for you, it’s totally doable.

Also, already has two and a half bathrooms? Score! our old house only has one.
.-= PlantingOaks´s last blog ..The hyacinths are back! =-.

hello gorgeous March 17, 2010 at 8:41 am

It doesn’t look like it needs much except redecorating. Cracked walls are easy to fix unless there’s a structural problem. I would talk to the neighbors and see what they know.

Also, check the roof, furnace, electric (is it updated?), etc. The appearance is the easiest part to change. In fact, our last house had a kitchen like that with dark wood cabinets and I just added moldings and painted everything and replaced the linoleum counters but left the stainless. It looked great and we also sold for a huge profit.

That green bathroom would look awesome with some of the Banana Leaf wallpaper from my post, “Bananarama.”
.-= hello gorgeous´s last blog ..Things I’m Watching on eBay. =-.

Jennifer Clement March 17, 2010 at 8:45 am

I love it and see the possibilities!!! If it is structurally sound, I’d do it. Wait….I already did do that. I’m living in one of those project houses that everyone looked at and no one wanted to tackle. Now, so many people tell us it is their favorite home in town.

busybodyk March 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

I love the house! I think it can look great with the right amount of money, style, love and attention :)

middle sister March 17, 2010 at 8:53 am

In my neck of the woods that’s almost free! How grand to have a home like that.
Get an inspection and a few bids on the structural repair, tear down the wall paper and you’re on your way.

Cori Heffernan March 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

Structural issues aside, I don’t think this house is awful. It looks like what they did do to the house (wallpaper and curtains) was what was in style at the time. It looks outdated but not uncared for. Hardwood floors under the rugs? What a treasure! I would buy it if it wasn’t a couple thousand miles away!

Linda March 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

Cracks in the walls doesn’t mean structural damage. Both Kansas and Oklahoma (where we live) have soil structures and weather shifts that cause ANY house over a “certain age” to have cracks. We lived in a 1937 Craftsman type cottage that had cracks in several rooms. We had it inspected while we lived there and were told the cracks were just something we had to expect and it would probably stand solid for another hundred years.
Get it inspected, of course, but don’t bail out because of cracks. If it is solid the cosmetic problems (even lots of them) can be dealt with. Definitely check plumbing and electrical systems. Electric is almost a given unless it had been updated already.

Sheila March 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

Another Kansas girl! Yay! Go for it, sister. New wallpaper and no carpet will fix a majority of sins and the house has such great architectural details. Don’t be afraid of a little elbow grease. You can do it!
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Breath vs. breathe =-.

Angela March 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

Oh, I would be all over this house IF the foundation and overall structure are in tact. You may have to redo some plumbing, but it appears the other stuff is just appearances..

~angela @ peonypatch
.-= Angela´s last blog ..Rudi =-.

jo neely March 17, 2010 at 9:02 am

We bought a house that is now 118 years old , three years ago. It is a two story gabled farmhouse with a wrap around front porch, Some people said doze it, but we saw the potential in it. It is coming along nicely The house above has far more potential than ours. I would buy it if the price was right. My house will be gorgeous when it is finished.

Paula - Mise en scène March 17, 2010 at 9:06 am

Get an inspection, the cracks may be normal settling or foundation issues. This age houses may have that knob and tube wiring, meaning the wiring needs replacing. Then get estimates on the work to be done. Better to know ahead of time then to buy it and wind up with the house owning you.
.-= Paula – Mise en scène´s last blog ..Go Bold or Go Home =-.

Pat March 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

I love this place! How’s the location? If the answer is good, and the inspection is good…go for it!
What charm it has. Just the banister alone is charming!
Be forwarned that one project will lead to another which means digging deeper in your pockets, but if there’s no hurry to complete it, enjoy the journey!
.-= Pat´s last blog ..Wild Child – Not =-.

Aniela March 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

It has 4,000 sq ft., is in a historic district, and is SUPER cheap. If you have a budget of 200k you could bye it for 130-140k probably, spend the rest of the money fixing it and flip it for 300k. So worth it!

Kelli March 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

I am a real estate agent in this area, Pittsburg is a nice little college town that is fairly quiet. 149,000 is the average home price, and you are right this area (southeast Kansas) hasn’t felt the bubble, but that is because we don’t have the big increase in property values so we don’t have the big decrease. I would say that house is worth more around the 120k price point and with the right updates (I am aware of the neighborhood this property is located in) you could sell for upwards of 200k.

Linda- you are exactly correct. Kansas is known for shifting so most house have settling that has taken place. Cracks can mean a variety of things so I always suggest a home inspection to any buyer.

One other thing that isn’t mentioned is if this home is in a flood plain. Southeast Kansas has a lot of flooding and that can decrease your home value-this is something that your real estate agent should bring to your attention.

hookedonhouses March 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

That’s very helpful, Kelli! Thanks!

linda@LimeintheCoconut March 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

Well….I guess that poll seals the deal!

I pushed “buy it” JUST from looking at the front! Piece of cake….and SOOOOO much charm!
.-= linda@LimeintheCoconut´s last blog ..…A wee bit o’ the green for ya… =-.

mama-face March 17, 2010 at 9:46 am

If you have the money of course.

The lines of that house are fantastic. I’d build a new home with those same lines-though restoring a home with all that character would be even better.
.-= mama-face´s last blog ..deja vu uh huh =-.

Mary Beth (Cats, Books, Life is Good) March 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I’m ready to buy it from the outside alone. But then, I gravitate towards old houses that are falling down. I hope she buys it and lets us know how it turns out in the end!
.-= Mary Beth (Cats, Books, Life is Good)´s last blog ..THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield =-.

Jamie March 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

I say buy it! As for cracked walls and outdated decor….they aren’t even worth flinching at. It the big things like the foundation, electrical, plumbing, and roofing that will make or break a project like this.
That house is amazing! Figure out a budget, decide what you can and can’t do yourself, then get rough prices on the things you can’t do yourself. If those numbers work for you….make an offer!
Then start a blog so we all can watch the transformation!
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..Random Somethings:Spring, Nerds, Pioneer Woman, and Postcards =-.

remodeladdict March 17, 2010 at 9:57 am

Buy it! This sounds very much like my story. My husband and I purchased a neglected home in a historic neighborhood. Two years later our renovation still isn’t done, but the finished product is going to be worth the wait. Make sure to get an inspection so you know what you’re dealing with and get some bids on the work. But if you have the time, patience, and money, go for it — you won’t be sorry.

Farmeress March 17, 2010 at 9:58 am

Today 3/17 is the 16th anniversary of the complete farmhouse renovation we undertook. Not a typical farmhouse. Great bones but every inch was frozen in time 25 years before. It was a 2 1/2 year process at double the cost my then future Farmer estimated and I am an amazing shoe-string bargains shopper, Both in materials & labor. Farmer had two helpers for half the time. The house is 4500 sq feet on one floor. Had it been in good shape it would have been twice the cost given 120 acres and near a city. First always a must, the home inspector- each item he pointed out was so… and needed correction in time. BUT…no structural damage anywhere!!! Can of worms when walls were opened to insulate (had none & electric heat) Plumbing and wiring needed total redo with codes met. If you have the money AVAILABLE to buy and exceed your estimated amount of work and turmoil is a copeable way of life (we held our other home till this was done…but that is expensive if you have 2 mortgages we didn’t & it wasn’t “cheap”) this could be a good investment. But if your improvements will exceed the value of the surrounding homes, it will not be. Make sure there isn’t a turnkey that doesn’t also excite you as much. If transfer could be in the near future or job status could change..Move on, don’t look back!

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

I think that as long as it’s structurally sound, she should go for it! It looks to me like most of the work is cosmetic: ripping that awful wallpaper down, new carpet/flooring, painting, some work in the kitchen, etc. I think this place has major potential!!! :) Go for it!

Rosa March 17, 2010 at 10:06 am

I hate wasting the potential of a house. All houses, with the exception of structurally unsound houses, have useful life with TLC. I think that updates can happen. The price is right to invest another $100K to make it the absolute dream house that competes with houses in the area. Heck, if I could move to Pittsburg, KS, I would buy it myself.
.-= Rosa´s last blog ..The Goodbye . . . =-.

grissell March 17, 2010 at 10:10 am

I love the outside of this house. Just fantastic!
.-= grissell´s last blog ..Knowledge is POWER, I think Knowledge can send you right into LOONEYVILLE if you are not careful! =-.

Hip Hip Gin Gin March 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

As long as it passes inspection and is structurally sound, snap it up!! It will be a lot of work but nothing that can’t be done. From the photos it looks like she will be investing in some wallpaper remover and paint, not too bad one weekend at a time.
And that green bathroom? Is beyond fantastic, don’t change a thing!!
.-= Hip Hip Gin Gin´s last blog ..Sunday Night Dinner =-.

Nichole March 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

I have actually lived in Pittsburg, KS before. And my brother and sister in-law went to school there. Too Funny! I don’t think I ever knew there were such nice historic homes. Probably because you don’t notice stuff like that when you are 10 years old. :)
.-= Nichole´s last blog ..A Dispute =-.

Tricia Rose March 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

Retain a realtor to negotiate on your behalf: I nominate Kelli! It is hard to bargain from a position of love.
Get your sums right.
.-= Tricia Rose´s last blog ..It Looks so Simple =-.

Sara March 17, 2010 at 10:28 am

Invest in a good quality wallpaper steamer and go for it! A little bit of updating = instant equity boost.
Good luck!

Tricia March 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

Oh my goodness. I can not get past the character. You can live with outdated (even ugly) as long as you know that you are going to bring it back to life! Right?! ;) So much potential. How I wish that I lived in Pitsburgh!
.-= Tricia´s last blog ..Sweet Shot Day Reminder =-.

MaryBeth March 17, 2010 at 10:37 am

OMG, it is stunning. If it has no structural damage buy it. As in yesterdays post, I always wonder why people can’t see past the paint and carpet. Who doesn’t paint a house when they move? While I see that this is much more than painting it really is only cosmetic changes that need to be made. A true keeper.

Kat in Texas March 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

I’d buy it in a minute! At that price, you could afford to address the major problems and still have money left over to decorate. So much potential. It could be a real gem with a little TLC.

Nancy T - Seattle, Wa March 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

I’m drooling…
Seriously, drooling…
‘A diamond in the rough’.
.-= Nancy T – Seattle, Wa´s last blog ..Rummaging … =-.

Julie Harward March 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

Save it…it’s a great house! Come say hi :D
.-= Julie Harward´s last blog ..~~FEMININE APPEAL~~ =-.

Lisa March 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

What spritit!!!! I love it. After reading all the comments so far I’m just plain giddy inside!! Thanks Julia, for sharing this on your blog. Girls, you have no idea how I’ve dreamt of buying and fixing up this house. I have already imagined making a scrapbook of before and afters and leaving it as a trophy on the living room table for all to see!! For all we(my husband and me) know, which is very little, the foundation looks way worse than it actually is. Bottom line an inspection would be the deciding factor. And as far as flipping….no way! If my blood, sweat, and tears go into this house thats exactly where they’re staying. It would be a dream home for life!!!

Emily March 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

Hell, if she doesn’t buy it, I will! I too, am now fantisizing about what I would do with it. The only things that could deter me from this house would be a horribly cracked foundation or all the plumbing and electrical needing replacing (those are my limitations). That is a fantastic buy, and just think how nice it will be once fixed up.

Polly March 17, 2010 at 11:46 am

I would buy it in a minute! I wish it was in my area … but we don’t have houses that charming in my area. :(

And even if the foundation is cracked – fix it! So worth it!

Buy it … buy it … buy it!!!!
.-= Polly´s last blog ..My Hee. =-.

Jeanne March 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

This house has amazing potential! What would be worse would be if someone had tried to update or remodel and did a crummy job, as we’ve seen so often in these older homes. The house has great bones and could be a showstopper. I hope whoever buys this house has the foresight and patience to bring it back to its origional glory. My heart always quickens when I see a property such as this…I want to rescue it and bring it back to life.

Maya @ Completely Coastal March 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I would have to go in there with an inspector and contractor in order to make a decision!

E March 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I agree with Maya @ Completely Coastal, but it definitely is worth checking out, IMHO. What a great thing, if you were able to save such a beauty! Even if it took forever, if you worked on it slowly as finances were available.

Jen March 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Buy it! Wall paper can be taken down, and walls can be repaired. Looks like a great house. As long as there are no structural problems and the electric/plumbing is up to date, I’d go for it.
.-= Jen´s last blog ..Tweet Tweet for the Week =-.

Lauren March 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Okay, I totally don’t think it’s THAT bad. I think the outside and basic structure of the house is amazing, and with that price, it wouldn’t be too money crazy to change up the decor. Buy it!
.-= Lauren´s last blog ..WAY BACK WEDNESDAYYY! – I Swear it Was THIS Big! =-.

Jenny March 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

If I had the money and the time and it was structurally sound, I would do it!
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Kako The Clown =-.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints March 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Just looks cosmetic! AWESOME opportunity:)
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..A walk to remember =-.

Sarah March 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm

This would very much depend on the home inspection – get a *good* inspector in there, and really go over that house from top to bottom.

The decor isn’t that pivotal – if you’re reading this blog, you should enjoy fixing it up.

From looking at the picture, my guess is that the roof would have to be replaced. It might be just the angle, but does that carport look a bit wonky?

Heidi March 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Unlike other houses you’ve profiled on your blog before, this one is one I would buy in a heartbeat as well, as long as it was ok structurally. I agree it has SO much potential. It exudes charm even in it’s current state. The only problem with the decor currently is that it doesn’t show off the wonderful architectural details to their full potential. I don’t even think it would take all that much to really make it look wonderful and with a little more money and a kitchen remodel and bathroom updates it could be a total stunner. Unfortunately houses like that can’t be found for that price where I live or I’d seriously be trying to figure out a way to purchase it and fix it up!!

Lesley @ TheDesignFile March 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

First of all, the exterior is stunning. I absolutely love it.

And as long as the interior work is mostly cosmetic – which it appears – then I’d totally buy it. That price is amazing.

Of course, if the foundation is bad and the basement floods and the roof is caving in…well…it’s not THAT pretty!
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Etsy pick: Vintage pieces for a contemporary home =-.

Tammy March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

If she already lives in Pittsburgh, KS, I’d say BUY IT…..if you are moving to Pittsburgh, KS from somewhere else, you should really check out the town a little more first. It (the home) has beautiful bones.
.-= Tammy´s last blog ..A Fine Day =-.

Nathan March 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

If I had enough money to put some work into it, I would definitely buy it.

Carla March 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I think the house looks like it could be so great. If it didn’t have huge structure or electrical and plumbing issues. I live 45 min away from Pittsburgh and even though $149,000 sounds like a great deal to allot of you , That is not that cheap for an old home that needs allot of work , In this part of the country. I love the outside of it and bones of it. You better love wallpaper removal :) We are looking at a very old 100+ years old. and it has allot of “lovely” wallpaper to remove also. good times. If you buy it I want to for sure see the before and after also.

The Stylish House March 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Lead paint? Old Roof? Outdated furnace? Window replacement? Kitchen & bath remodel? Old homes can be charming, but you have to evaluate the structural condition and see how much money will be involved. If it makes sense then yes buy it!
.-= The Stylish House´s last blog ..Pottery Barn Makeover! =-.

CJF March 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Please, tell me that that is a copper roof over the front porch and following along the front of the home (narrow area above the first floor windows) if it isn’t then I’d put copper in that area.
The house has amazing grace, very genteel arches, and stair baluster.
Need to be brought back to it’s stunning design.
I’m guessing that the side portico leads to a side door? I’d grow a flowering vine up and over the portico. I’d remove the front shrubs and I’m betting that their is a arch topped window area for the basement. Oh, what treasures might their be in the basement, garage and attic. Maybe some arts and crafts furniture?
If you have the money to buy and fix it then do it. Cracks on walls generally are caused by a foundation issue. Some cracks are considered acceptable as normal settling. I’d imagine that you’d need to update electrical and perhaps your cooling and heating system. Get an inspector.
Cosmetically, the house is livable until you have the chance to put your own stamp on it. The retro bath is great and I like the gold woodwork in the fireplace room.
If you do buy it ask the neighbors that live next to the portico to reposition the rain gutter downspout to flow toward the road not toward your portico supports and your driveway and then your basement.
If you make the purchase then please start a blog on the goings on at your new home.
Enjoy.

Kim March 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

It depends on how much work needs to go into fixing the house up. If there’s not much that needs to be done, then I would buy it and fix it up.

Matthew March 17, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Wow! This is so much like the condition of my house. And my wife and I purchased it for the same reasons… It’s an unloved house in the midst of a nice neighborhood with so many other houses that have been better cared for. Another diamond in the rough.

While it’s a lot of work, it’s worth it to pay less for the house now (which is one reason why we didn’t go for more expensive houses) and gradually bring the house back to life over the next few years instead of compromising on the style or location of our house.
.-= Matthew´s last blog ..Books and music my daughter and I like (and some not so much) – Part 2 =-.

shelly March 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Oh my stars I looove it. Wish I lived in Kansas ;)
Listing price for that little lovely would be in the
400-500 range in my neck of the woods.

Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip March 17, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Buy it! It has such potential!!
.-= Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip´s last blog ..Catching a Leprechaun! =-.

Jackie W. March 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Pittsburg is a college town.

Jeannine520 March 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I voted for “buy it” but I need to add some “if’s”. I would have the house inspected and be sure that the problems are only cosmetic. The seriously ugly paper/decor isn’t really a big deal to me. If it were only half as ugly you’d still change it to make it your own so I think you should look past all that. Stay focused on the floorplan, architectural elements, and the structural soundness.

Angela (Cottage Magpie) March 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Of course, I love it! If it’s in a great neighborhood, it’ll be an investment and family home for a lifetime. You can take your time doing the work. Even from the photos you can see that behind the ugly finishes there’s an adorable, charming house there. Go for it! Enjoy it!
.-= Angela (Cottage Magpie)´s last blog ..Little Floral Prints =-.

Erin @ House Affairs March 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm

My vote: Buy it! Providing it: 1. doesn’t have major structural issues 2. doesn’t need improvements to the point that it would be the most expensive house in the neighborhood. If they can afford the improvements, then go for it!
.-= Erin @ House Affairs´s last blog ..Rainy Day Sunshine =-.

Robin March 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm

It’s wonderful!!!! SAVE, SAVE, SAVE IT!!!
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Hare you there??? =-.

Chris Howard March 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

The green bathroom alone makes it worth it! Remember things like wallpaper and paint can be easily fixed, as long as the house is structurally sound it’s a FANTASTIC buy… and please, please, please save that lovely art deco bathroom!

Pat's Addition March 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Looks well worth the work. Room sizes are good. Let us know if Lisa buys it!
.-= Pat’s Addition´s last blog ..First Blossoms =-.

Melissa Martin March 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm

BUY IT! Love it!!!
.-= Melissa Martin´s last blog ..Check out =-.

Derek March 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm

No question. It has potential up the whaaazoo! It has great bones in place just needs to be loved. I’m here to help if you need it.
.-= Derek´s last blog ..Good inspiration can come from anywhere. =-.

Sarah March 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

My dream kind of house! It has such potential and personality. Although if there are structural issues, that would be different…
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..we have a toddler! =-.

Pamela Rosenberg March 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I would go for it but then I am an impulse buyer. We bought our own old house twelve years ago and we are still working on it but I would do it all over again.
Pam
.-= Pamela Rosenberg´s last blog ..Future American Idol? Meet Shawndell Young and the Greatest Argument For Why We Need To Keep Music In Our Schools =-.

cristin @ simplified bee March 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Buy it! This home has so much character and “good” bones.

xo,
cristin
.-= cristin @ simplified bee´s last blog ..Irish Eyes are Smiling =-.

Renae Moore March 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Great house, super potential…tooo much work for me!
.-= Renae Moore´s last blog ..the Big Butt Chair by Linda =-.

Marija March 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Oh I think my answer will be unpopular. But I am speaking from the heart here.

We faced this dilemma. We bought a home to renovate and in the end we had no choice but to tear down (safer, less expensive – believe it or not). During the tear down, we saw just what was happening INSIDE the walls. We learned that a home neglected on the inside likely means the inside of the structure (and any additions/renovations) have been haphazardly approached as well. Once we saw blankets used as insulation coming out of the wall, we knew we made the right decision. Something else will come along that keeps you up at night dreaming! Marija
.-= Marija´s last blog ..Green With Envy =-.

Rita March 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I voted yes, but I do agree with Marija. The inspection should make the decision a lot easier. It has great character and potential. If it’s structurally sound, I’d buy it in a minute.
.-= Rita´s last blog ..Chinoiserie Plate =-.

Kelly March 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm

You may be asking the wrong group of people :-) I say definitely yes as long as the structure is good. The house is BEAUTIFUL and has so much potential. Think of what it will be worth when all the horrible wallpaper is down and the place is gorgeous!
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Friends! =-.

Beck March 18, 2010 at 5:51 am

This house, future “home”, seems to have good bones! Lots of originals, like the tile in the bathroom, interior crown moldings, etc. As long as the foundation is in decent shape, I say go for it! What a find!!! Heck! I live in Oklahoma….I will even come up and help some weekend! (easy stuff tho….LOL)

Linda March 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

“Who doesn’t paint a house when they move?” Oh I hear you on that one! I sell real estate and had a young couple looking at a house that was on the market for 160,000.00 LESS then it was worth, a true steal (in fact if it woulda been within a reasonable commute to my husbands business it woulda been mine, as it was it was too far for him to have to drive on each end of his 10 hour day) Back to the subject here, the house was beautiful and in perfect condition, the people who lived there were relocated by their company and any loss the company was going to cover (yes, it goes on all the time!) Well the young gal walked away because she could not see beyond the paint colors on the wall!! I was soooo taken aback and wanted to sit her down and try to get her to see beyond the paint colors. They turned around a paid 80,000.00 more for a lesser of a house because she liked the colors!! OMG huh?? Right now we have another property on the market for 80,000.00 less then the value as it is another corporate buy out and relocation. (290,000.00 vs 370,000.00) There are some fantastic deals out there!!

nanne March 18, 2010 at 6:37 am

buy it, buy it, buy it!!!!!!!!!!!! then lisa needs to keep us updated on her renovations…

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality March 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

Oh, I love this house!! Lots of potential. A home inspection would be the first thing that needs to be done, but other than cosmetics, it’s a jewel waiting to be polished up. I’d go for it at that price, if the inspection was good.
.-= Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality´s last blog ..The Deals at Sally Ann =-.

devil March 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Another naysayer here, I’m afraid. I would pass on this one, even if they cut the price in half (which they should, btw).

Unless you tag along with the home inspector, inspecting the inspection, something (possibly many things) will be overlooked. Only someone very knowledgeable about old homes should even consider buying this.

In 1978, my brother bought a home built in 1910. He still lives in it (trapped, really) and has regretted that purchase this whole time. Fixing up that house has consumed so much of his life and he’ll never be nearly done if he lives to be 200. He couldn’t afford to do half of what he planned to when he moved in. Once the kids came along, there wasn’t enough money/time/energy to spare on fixing up an old house.

rachel March 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

no contest- that’s a keeper! if you’re willing to strip wallpaper & carpet & paint, you can hire a contractor for the other updates… maybe i’m crazy, but that’s what we did for our house & we’re super happy!
.-= rachel´s last blog ..ummm… tuesday thoughts =-.

pappel March 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

You are asking the wrong crowd for an unbiased answer. We are obviously all Hooked on Houses if we read this blog religously (as I do).
My one piece of advice would be to make sure it is structurally sound. Get an inspection to make sure of this.
And then, if you do get it, enjoy the process. It will be hard work, money draining, but oh-so-satisfying to make it your own.

Good luck!

StuccoHouse March 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Absolutely worth saving. The neat thing is that now there is a wealth of information available online (including many house restoration blogs :) that make saving those vintage houses easier. It’s a lot of work but the rewards, both financially & emotionally, are well worth it. AND DON’T TOUCH THAT BATHROOM!! It’s GREAT!
.-= StuccoHouse´s last blog ..The Switch =-.

Ann March 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I agree with everyone else. Awesome home! We got a steal on a house too because no one could see past the pastel heart wallpaper and country style border and hideous layers of drapes and berber carpet, and it’s a 1920 Arts and Crafts house. Hope Lisa sends pictures of the before and afters!!

christy March 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

I think it’s got great potential too – that arched bathroom is fabulous! I hope someone who reads your blog snaps it up and then sends you after photos!
.-= christy´s last blog ..Five GREAT Things Friday =-.

Melanie March 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

I adore this house and see so much potential. It reminds me so much of my own when I first saw it- all sparkly wallpaper, built-ins and tiled bathrooms.
While the wallpaper was the first thing to go- I love the charm of all the architectural details and we even kept the purple and black tiled bathroom. I say buy it and keep that green bathroom too!

Alex March 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Snatch up this house! It’s a gem with incredible potential. So long are there are no significant structural issues, the price is an absolute steal and I suspect you’d regret it if you let the opportunity pass…best of luck and here’s hoping that before/after pictures get posted!

CJF March 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Hi,
How do I get access to posts 51 – 104, I’d love to read them.
Thank-you

hookedonhouses March 19, 2010 at 9:20 pm

CJF–
You should be able to just click the “previous comments” link right up there to get to the rest of the comments. Sorry if it isn’t working! -Julia

Tricia March 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I think I would move there just to have this house, and for $150,000, that is a crazy good price! It has loads of potential!

Lee March 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

It has magnificent curb appeal. It says “I’m a charmer, come on in and see the rest of me”. The bones are good and I could even work with the green in the bath and the older kitchen. Our seller went “a la cheap” in fixing up our house and we paid for her junky and ugly redo materials and then pulled them out and started over. Why pay for someone’s awful materials when you can just deal with the old materials and not pay the higher price?

Elaine March 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

I would not hesitate to buy this house! You can’t replicate this kind of historic charm. Wallpaper and paint are easy to update and the results will surprise you. It’s always a good idea to buy the least expensive house in the neighborhood which has such potential. You will always get your money out of it! And since it’s so dated, you don’t mind ripping all of those old finishes off! Good Luck!!

Austin March 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Looks like a steal to me. If the house needs Foundation Repair it should run around $8-$12K. But more than likely the cracks can be filled with epoxy and painted over. Tearing out the wall paper and repainting should also add a nice flair, great find!

Sam April 2, 2010 at 8:15 am

This house is hideous!!! Even if you poured the much needed $50k it needs to just to get back to average, you’d never get the resale value for it. The outside is very unattractive as well. For $150k, you could find something much better

Megan May 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

OMG…I saw a picture of this house and thought, “Man, that looks like the house down the street from us.” You can imagine how shocked I was to see it WAS! Pittsburg (without the H) represented!!!

My parents lived down the street and restored their house, then moved because it was too big. I live just a few blocks away. I so wanted to buy this house and “flip it” with my mom. I couldn’t believe how “cheap” it was for the neighborhood. I hope if she did buy it, she’s restoring it and we could see some after shots. If only the housing market was better, we would have done it.

LOVE your blog!

KansasKate August 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

As someone who lived in Pittsburg for several decades, in old houses, I can tell you that relatively speaking, this is not neglect.

In small towns –Pittsburg is a small college town 2 hours south of Kansas City– people often live in family homes for decades, until they die or go into a nursing home. Finding outdated wallpaper is par for the course. Older people tend to be frugal and aren’t likely to change wallpaper just because it’s 20 years old, as long as it’s still stuck to the wall. Besides, when you’re 90, 20 years ago seems like yesterday. Whoever ended up purchasing this house is very lucky that the bathroom is still original and was never re-muddled.

ALL historic homes in Pittsburg have structural issues. This is because Pittsburg, which began life as a mining town, is undermined. Add to that the fact that there’s a lot of clay in the soil; during the rainy seasons it swells and during droughts it shrinks. Houses settle and shift. Plaster cracks. If you can’t live with that, either build a new house on sunken pylons or move somewhere else.

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