The Vintage Charm or Vintage Harm? Pros and Cons of Owning a 100+ Year Old Home in Chicagoland

Hey there, Windy City explorers! Laurie here, your friendly neighborhood real estate aficionado, bringing you another hot topic. Today, we're diving into a topic as layered as a deep-dish pizza—owning a 100+ year-old home in the Chicago area.

Pro: Character Overload

Let's start on a high note, shall we? Old homes are like a fine wine; they get better with age. With their hardwood floors, stained glass windows, and intricate moldings, these architectural darlings bring charm that new builds just can't replicate. Plus, you'll have the perfect backdrop for hosting your own version of "Downton Abbey" (butler optional).

Con: Renovation Nation

While you might fall in love with those vintage tiles, be prepared to also fall into a pit of renovation. The word "quaint" can quickly turn into "I can't!" when you realize you've got knob-and-tube wiring or outdated plumbing. You might spend more time with your contractor than your significant other for a while.

Pro: Craftsmanship and Quality Materials

Talk about being built to last! These homes often come with better lumber, intricate woodworking, and even cedar structural beams. “Already stood firm through every storm. Superior craftsmanship and materials,” raved one Facebook commenter.

Con: Size and Design Quirks

People back in the day didn’t live the way we do now. Expect smaller closets and rooms that might not fit your modern sectional. One Facebook comment hit the nail on the head: “furnishings today are a lot larger, so don’t fit a lot of older homes.”

Pro: Prime Locations

Location, location, location! Many old homes are located in established neighborhoods, often near downtowns, parks, and public transit. So you're not just buying a house; you're snagging a lifestyle that includes Sunday strolls to the local farmers' market and a shorter commute to downtown Chicago.

Con: Not So Energy Efficient

Remember, a 100-year-old home was not built with today's environmental consciousness in mind. Your new vintage darling might guzzle energy like a '74 Cadillac drinks gasoline. Upgrading to green technologies will be your pocketbook's new best friend.

Pro: A Home With a Story

Every nook and cranny has a story to tell. There's nothing quite like knowing that your home has seen the Roaring Twenties, the Swingin' Sixties, and now the...Streaming Twenties? You're not just a homeowner; you're a historian!

Con: Potential Historic Restrictions

Speaking of history, owning a historical home might mean you're subject to certain zoning or restoration laws. Want to paint your Victorian purple? Check the local guidelines, or you might have more than just your neighbors talking.

Pro: Strong Community Bonds

Older homes often come with older communities, and that means neighbors who actually know each other. Cue block parties, neighborhood watch, and that sense of community that's straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Con: That Price Tag, Though

Finally, let's talk dollars and cents. Historic homes can carry a premium price, especially in high-demand areas like Oak Park. And don't forget the maintenance costs that come along for the ride.

Pro: Squeaky Stairs & Safety

One humorous yet poignant pro? “Teenagers can’t sneak up the stairs after curfew without getting caught… they will always squeak! The stairs, not the kids.”

Must-Do: Professional Inspection

Before you fall head-over-heels, have a professional home inspector give the house a thorough check. Plumbing, wiring, structural integrity—get it all inspected. One commenter advised, “They need to give you a detailed report. Everything that needs major fixes should factor into how much you pay for the house.”


So there you have it, a platter of pros and cons served Chicago-style. Ready to start your vintage home hunt or still undecided? Either way, I'm here to guide you every step of the way—with or without a lab coat!

Until next time, may your homes be cozy, your negotiations smooth, and your deep-dish pizzas plenty!

Start searching for your old home with good bones now.