Old homesteads are increasing in popularity, for good reason. Their construction is a known quality, and they can serve many purposes for an eclectic family. They also offer homeowners a path to self-sustainability.
If you have dreams of farmhouse sinks, planting your own herbs, or chasing your children in your own rolling fields, you might want to consider purchasing an old homestead.
Benefits of Purchasing a Homestead
Here are some benefits you can look forward to with a homestead:
1. You Have the Ability to Make It Your Own
Have you ever walked into a newly-constructed home, only to be put off by the color of granite they chose for the countertops? How about the beautiful walnut cabinets that don’t fit with your all-white aesthetic?
What about the surrounding area — have you wanted to build a barn but just don’t have the room? With a homestead, you can make the inside of the home your own, as well as the home’s surroundings.
If the property does come with extra buildings, they are just waiting for your customizations. Not a farmer, but have a silo? Imagine the unique, Airbnb cottage or dream playhouse you could create for your children or potential tenants. Old homesteads are gold mines for those with endless dreams.
2. You Can Be Self-Sufficient
Only for those not faint of heart, an older homestead provides the opportunity for self-sufficiency. If you are searching for an old homestead for the lifestyle and not simply to be the envy of Pinterest, get ready for a hard-working adventure.
• Brew your own beer
• Create your own milk and dairy products
• Grow your own vegetables
• Raise honeybees
• Save money
• Leave a smaller carbon footprint
3. You Can Experience Expert Craftsmanship
The attention to a strong build was much higher in the 1800s and early 1900s — when many older homesteads were built — compared to the present. If a structure is over 100 years old, you have a time-tested guarantee that the home was built with quality materials (assuming there are no visible alarms).
You will need to put work into repairs, but that is much less expensive than searching for a quality builder to erect an entire homestead.
Other Considerations When Purchasing a Homestead
An older homestead can leave a smaller impact on the environment, increase your connection to the earth, and give you a truly personal project to work on for years. However, it is not an endeavor to take on lightly. There are several considerations and research you should do before making the commitment:
1. Zoning: Zoning can become complicated with homestead land. Planning to put up ten artist studios to help pay down that mortgage? Make sure before you buy that your home is properly zoned for your future plans. Many rural areas have zoning restrictions to prevent suburban and urban sprawl, so plan accordingly!
2. Timing: Finding an old property can take time. Many buyers have waited years to find the ideal property. With new construction being completed in as little as four months from the start of construction, it’s easy to be tempted away from polishing an old gem. Even after finding the ideal property, you can expect at least a half year’s time investment to restore it — and that’s an ideal timeline for someone solely focused on restoration.
If you have a family and are not a contractor, plan on years of restoration work. On the bright side, housing projects are a great way to teach your children about maintaining a home, and are a productive way to bond. It is definitely a different lifestyle than living in a pre-manicured home.
3. Isolation: Some homesteads are located close to thriving towns, though many are located in isolated rural areas. For some, the thought of living peacefully and privately is a lifetime goal. Others may react more like Jack Torrance from “The Shining.”
Can you be happy if you get snowed in regularly for days at a time? Is making an appearance at your local Starbucks each morning important to you? Consider how much social activity is essential to your well-being.
Owning Your Own Homestead: Not for the Faint of Heart
Gorgeous restored farmhouses are a growing trend because they take us back to what matters most in life: family and our connection to the earth. While it takes a lot of work to maintain an old homestead, the joy of becoming a steward to land with a unique history is intoxicating for many homeowners.
However, it’s important to realize that behind those perfected, Home & Garden photos is a lot of hard work. If you have the patience, budget, and desire to restore these beacons of culture, though, you can expect a home filled with warmth, character, and function.
Photo by Fotolia/ehrlif