Fixing up old ME farmhouses and all the buildings around the homestead.
Country living housing projects require plenty of skill, lots of home work study and boat loads of patience. Building construction on older agricultural properties are definitely labors of love. It is best if you the home owner can tackle as much of the rehab work yourself to save money and for the joy of a real estate fixer upper restoration project.
The older homes that were once the cornerstone of vibrant small Maine farm families present a challenge though from the two extremes.
The never had any repair places are original. But the damage caused from lack of maintenance means the repairs are more than just addressing the surface of what you can see on the inside. Deep down inside the bones of a Maine farmhouse you will can be forced to replace or repair the sills, the floor stringers, any dry rot that is hidden until you start swinging a crowbar.
The replacement materials in your re-construction of the country home that has fallen from grace sometimes means making the woodwork or hardware supporting it by hand. Because you can not just trot into a big box building supply outlet to move it from a shelf aisle into your shopping cart. Often finding another farmstead that is being torn down is a source for what you need on the construction project. Re-purposing from a salvage pile of another deceased farm home dwelling with the property owner’s permission to pick through the rubble. Or locating someone that did save the yesteryear materials that were once part of an older farmhouse that is no longer standing straight and sound. Who piled them up to store under cover for their own re-building project that lost steam or they simply had more than their needed and now want to gladly free up the storage space for other trinkets.
Referring to the historical building notes on the New England, whatever style homestead is part of learning curve in the housing restoration maneuver.
To determine what exactly is needed once the reconstruction project gets underway in good shape. Study of floor-plans, the cut away more detailed diagrams, watching videos on the repair of vintage older housing. Talking to the old time now retired tradesman that all add up to combine and help guide the rehabilitation efforts. All are essential in combination for the know how needed to tackle the many loose ends the old farmhouse can present. It is delicate finish work in the hammer and nail but also to bring the major operating systems of the country home into present day.
The home in rural Maine that has gone through many owners adding their own creative talents to the Walton’s type housing is in some ways even harder to bring back into line. The past owners did not work together toward the same goal. Instead of just a few areas needing immediate attention and small ongoing detailing to make it like the original structure, there can be too much lost that resembles what the place looked like back in the year it was built. The attention to detail can make the re-construction scope pretty much every single room no longer mirrors what the original builder put together from the ground up.
The fixing up old historic farmhouses in Maine is slow tedious work and often too extensive to hire out because of the hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars to fix or repair or replace what ails the homestead.
But as long as a bank mortgage underwriter is not pushing for the place to be complete before closing. And you have a partner that is equally patient in the undo, redo, make do as the house with all the land around it returns to what it originally looked like. The this old house story can have very few scary chapters and a happy ending at the end. Making it better than it was when you first started many moons ago.
The what to do first is usually like any house project triage. Selecting the repair or replace the roof or heating system ahead of the installation of a new to you old Monson and Maine slate farmhouse long sink. Or removing to replace the kitchen cabinet hardware, electrical light fixtures and switches to match the period of this particular home era it really belongs. To get it back like the Beatles sang about being where you once belonged. Buy a farm house, whatever type of property where the renovation can be done in stages.
If you are buying to hang onto the place and are invested, the repair this old home movie is a long one with sequels.
You can buy a home you can not afford if it needs work, you are your own general contractor and you go slow. And hire out when you absolutely have to and recognize you are over your head. But stay on budget and pull back, extend the time to completion when something pops up you did not anticipate but that needs immediate attention and some funding to correct.
The saw horses in one room where the lath and plaster is being removed to hang new sheet rock after insulation, electrical and plumbing lines are put into the wall cavities. The peeling back multiple floor layers of old linoleum to get back down to hopefully a solid sub-floor or hardwood/softwood finish level. You don’t know what you are going to find the deeper you go into the many projects that spring up in the fix and repair of the old farmhouse you signed on for when the deed to the land under it was recorded in local registry of deeds.
Study of online imagery from others who embarked on the same repair your farm residence journey just prior to you can be encouraging.
The before and after images on any housing rehab can scare even the homeowner holding the camera to snap the shots and reviewing them in the progress album. Once you get started, there is no turning back. And when you run out of money or the projects to repair are large ones, the timetable to completion can be pushed ahead many months or even years on the calendar hanging in the old farm style renovated home kitchen.
The original acreage can be part of the missing puzzle piece when you decide to pick a farmstead residence real estate mission to accept if you dare. Too many times the land around the home was sold off by the widow of the last farmer on record to own the place. A neighboring agricultural grower that rented the land makes the purchase of land, no buildings to absorb the fields, pastures and woodlots into their down the road operation.
Buying back land from one or multiple land owners around your investment can be costly or require waiting until the timing improves. Strongly held and currently cultivated farm land does not get sold off but remains cut off from the original spread it use to surround on the family farm in Maine. Fewer but larger farm operations in Maine are the trend but my state does show promise in reversing the trend. More than four times the national average of micro farmers are showing up in the US census information from the last Q & A done on the local population. No farmer, no food is a sobering thought no?
Other things to prepare for that you might not have thought about in the housing repair exercise? Pet smells, the kind you may not remove and definitely are not going to gloss over with some sweet masking replacement odor. Perfectly good walls, floors and other building components can be marred deeply by animals inside a the home that should have been out in the farmyard or in the barn, machine shed, whatever building circles the main dwelling.
The best smell is none. Although the fragrance of flower beds, the smell of a woodshed, a summer kitchen where root cellar shelves create a winter draw grocery at meal time is not to be discouraged or can not be replaced. Burlap in a granary, leather in the tack room and saddle soap. Or disinfectant used to keep clean the milk parlor on an old Maine dairy farm with all the cattle stanchions and box / standing stalls for the smaller animals.
Making sour into a mixture of sweet works with chicken at the local Chinese restaurant. But lighting a candle or baking oven brownies won’t even begin to mask terrible pungent odors that linger in old neglected country homes of Maine.
The nose knows and your sense of smell is the strong of the five we all possess they say. Once the construction projects complete, it is time to move on to the finishing touch that does involve more than what you can see. The sounds of the wind chime on the front open porch, the colorful pinwheel that works in tandem with Mr Scarecrow out in the garden to discourage predatory gleaning. The crackling wood fire in the old Clarion or Home Comfort or whatever brand kitchen cook stove. A grandfather clock ticking in the front parlor. This is part of the lifestyle of country living in your old Maine farm property.
Pantry cabinets that need refinishing, finding original style or genuine imitation door knobs and Christan doors, trim to match the rest of the rooms in the old home out in the Maine countryside. Double wood storm windows with felt and numbered to help know which opening they go to in the fall get ready to a Maine winter ritual. All part of the bring it back to the way it was in the re-construction time machine that you pilot.
A working farm of your own or a gentlemen operation where the fertile fields and pastures are leased out to someone else with the headaches and backaches.
Of watching the weather and hoping for a profitable market to peddle what is grown or raised. You watch others till, plant, cultivate and hoe leading into the fall harvest. For the winter storage and slowly selling off what the good old Earth provided with seed, water, fertilizer, lots of sweat and toil.
The old farm house DIY renovation with a little hired out help along the way can mean putting the rear apartment for the grandparents back into the layout. Or adding a home office so the out of state farm buyer who appreciates the open space and fresh air around it more than a native. So he or she or both can bring their old job online with them and telecommute.
Ever thought of repairing an old Maine farmhouse and be honest. Have you ever caught yourself looking at the Maine farm tractor and machinery section of Uncle Henry’s or on Craig list? I am guilty as charged and am lucky to own the family farm In New England I grew up on. That my Dad and mom purchased from a great uncle who’s first name I use for a middle one. That along with my Great
Aunt Hettie a world war one nurse made a good living on the patch of dirt. Investing wisely the spoils of the toil with a Bangor Maine stock broker named Banks. It was her pension check though from serving as a Florence Nightingale on medical cases all over creation in and out of Vacationland that put in the running water bathroom plumbing. Into the farm in Maine located up here in the Crown of Maine that had a two holer out in the north end shed. Up here in Houlton, the oldest town in Aroostook County dubbed “The Shiretown” where the glacier gave us an edge blessing growers with Caribou loam soil to play in with the horse than tractor dragging longer and longer lengths of machinery.
Country properties are a special kind of Maine real estate offering.
Looking out when you do up the supper dishes and watching another setting sun at dusk. Sipping lemonade or slurping hot coffee on the open or glassed porch at the rural property with no neighbor in sight. That’s off the main drag and where road noise is missing from too much traffic that city dwellers get tone deaf to with the constant exposure.
Read up on the topic and learn this is how they did it on this style of property in this particular period of time. If you hanker making it original again or as close as your wallet or available spare time will permit.
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MOOERS REALTY 69 North Street Houlton Maine 04730 USA