Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old vs. New

Listen, I watch HGTV and House Hunters and a LOT OF IT. I know I am going against all that is hipster by wanting a new house. I know that the cool thing to want is a turn of the century house with tons of charms and built ins and original flooring, etc. But you know what? I, unlike a lot of the people on that show, and unlike a lot of people who want an old house, have actually LIVED in an old house. Lots of them. My college was in the city, and all the surrounding neighborhoods were jam packed with those cute old-style houses. I lived in several of them. They were all varying levels of nightmare. 

First of all, no matter what you do, everything is always dirty in an old house. There is dust everywhere, all the time. Things that are supposed to be white are kind of brownish gray. The most notorious offender (which we called the haunted house because it looked like a children's drawing of a haunted house) had some kind of large mammal living in the walls and attic and it was NOT a rodent. This was a large hibernating mammal, like a black bear or something. My roommate had this weird panel on one of her walls and one day we decided to unscrew it and see what was behind it. There were about half a dozen stained pillows and wadded up blankets shoved behind there. We closed it back up and didn't ask any questions. 
I've seen roaches, maggots, hibernating bears, and enough mold and mildew for a gaggle of "property virgins" (HGTV joke har har). 

Now I know that normal grownups with a reasonable house-buying budget who are appearing on an HGTV show are not looking at the hell-holes that I lived in in college. But those memories have forever tainted my idea of "charming old world style".  And its not just limited to the naive college kids with no sense of living standards. A friend of mine just bought a cute and charming old house, only to realize upon move-in day that the floor of the attic was lined with COFFIN LIDS. 

So when we realized that our family of three plus two wild animals was just getting to be too much for this townhome, we decided to build anew. We did look at a few older houses here and there. One was gorgeous and perfect but overlooked a highway and a waste water treatment plant. One looked like it was haunted by the ghost of a dead hippie. There wasn't a single one we considered putting an offer on. In the end, we selected a very suburban two story colonial in a very suburban town, and you know what? We're fine with that.