Lean-To Logic

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Home Improvement

Is an old house worth it? People seem to revere antiques. Old cars, old furnishings, posters from the golden age of advertising. Retro is a massive thing now too. I went to an arcade last weekend and played Ms. Pac-Man, Skee-ball and pinball. Go on Etsy or Pinterest and you will be overwhelmed by their antique or retro selections. Honestly, I think a lot of those things are cool. Items from our childhood generally bring back pleasant memories and give us an enjoyable sense of nostalgia. But at what cost?

I mean, there is a reason these things are no longer manufactured anymore, right? Half the toys we played with as kids are now considered weapons or dangerous to our health. They are filled with lead, festooned with spiky sharp points just waiting to get lodged in a throat or dislodge an eyeball. The antique cars would never pass an inspection. They are death traps. Lap belts, no air bags, leaded gas fumes spewing out the back. Is an old house any different?

Growing up in New England it is commonplace to live in a house built anywhere from the 1700’s to the 1900’s. In some places more common than recent construction. There are several houses in my town that were built in the 1600’s. Is that cool? If so, why? Don’t get me wrong, I love history. I love landmarks. I love museums.  But let’s be honest – did people in 1650 know how to build a better timber frame house than we do now? If I had to hand cut my own nails, I guarantee there would be about 11 nails in the whole darn place. If getting lumber required hooking up the wagon to the oxen and trudging to the forest, I would end up with a stick lean-to with a corn stalk floor and a seriously leaky roof.

An old house is a seething cauldron of out dated, out moded and plain dangerous technology and products. Knob and tube wiring, lead paint, lead plumbing, asbestos, mercury in our thermostats (fun to play with but pretty deadly*) and balloon framing are all trying to kill you either actively or passively. Tiny rooms and low ceiling are trying to smother you. Narrow uneven staircases will send you tumbling to an early grave. Now, we know the real reason the life expectancy in the US in 1750 was 36 years- their houses were out to kill them.  

But times have changed, what was old is new again and despite my melodramatics, if still you have a death wish and an overwhelming desire to perish in a charming antique in Old Town, please give call or e-mail me today.