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Comment Re:Chose builder that gives you the lowest quote.. (Score 1) 462

Depends. My 100 (ok, I exaggerate. It's 99) year old house has, um a 175A panel and all modern wiring. Cost me $6k, took an electrician about a week, done just before we moved in (we'd expected it, and it means our insurance rate is low, too). It's got blown in insulation, done before I bought it, but essentially the same as my neighbor's 10yo house. And single-pane windows aren't that much worse than double on an old house. Unlike a modern house, they are generally inset about 4 inches. This isn't just aesthetic - there's a boundary layer that gets trapped, even in high winds, which is not the case with modern flush windows. Yeah, that's what those "cute" sills and frames are for - they're actually functional. More heat is lost to convection than to radiation, so don't put too much stock in your infrared pix. People weren't stupid 100 years ago, or even 1000 years ago. Oh, and cooling? Hah. Don't need aircon. Double-hung windows have a purpose, again it's not just aesthetics. Open both top and bottom, and the hot air goes out the top, sucking cool air in the bottom. You won't get better than outside ambient air temp, but that's usually adequate in the Pacific NW. And you get a constant air recirc and breeze,*even in a room with only the window open. Bliss. And I could go on about the gallery design of such houses.

Unlike my neighbor (10yo house again), I don't have mold growing on the drywall in my basement, the foundation's quite done settling, and my 1953 GE gas furnace, while not as efficient as his THIRD furnace, is definitely more reliable. With a programmable thermostat, my costs are low. I did have to replace a thermocouple once ($25). But I'm pretty sure, if you include the various replacements/tinkering he's had to do, it's WAY cheaper to run, even if it uses more gas.

Downsides: plaster walls. Hate em. Hard to put holes in. Hard to fix. Though they kill sound better than drywall. Erm, that's about it. I definitely spend less time and effort on repairs than my neighbors. But the, say, $10k and 2 weeks I paid/took to bring it up to code was much less than the price differential between it and a new house.

As an aside, most (not all) houses build during and after WWII, say to 1955 or so, suck really bad. The build quality and materials are significantly inferior to early 1900's houses, or to modern houses. They do tend to be leaky, drafty, and have all sorts of terrible engineering (flush, metal pane windows, leaky cripple walls, etc).

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