I'm overly sensitive about the House of 42 Doors. I try not to be, but I know I am. Mostly because I worry about whether or not it was a wise choice to buy it. The opportunity cost for this house is high, and will remain so for years to come. So since I worry about it so much, I obsess about the wisdom of my actions. And when other people question my actions, I get defensive. Two instances come to mind.
When Ms. Huis gave our neighbors to the south a tour of the place, the wife (who lacks a bit in the areas of social graces) said "Wow. You have a lot of work to do there. Sure am glad I'm not you." The retort that almost came off of my lips was "Well, I can assure you the feeling is mutual." Fortunately, I bit back the replay, laughed a polite little laugh and made some non-committal, inoffensive reply. They are our neighbors after all, and until I get the ten foot hedge in place, we need to be civil.
When the plaster master was visiting the house the other day, Ms. Huis gave him the tour. They were in the middle of the tour when I caught up with them in the attic. He set me off the wrong way with the first thing out of his mouth. "I like looking at old houses, but I'd never want to own one." And then he continued with stories of his daughter and son-in-law who are now on their third old house. Seeing an opportunity for something in common and a chance to build some rapport between the two of us, I responded with something encouraging like "Really? They like old houses?"
And then he continued to alarm me. "Absolutely. The first thing they do to each old house they buy is gut it and redo it. Wiring, plumbing and of course plaster. We come in and plaster it...for free!" Polite laughter followed. At this point, I just tried to get the information out of him that I needed to fix the ceiling. I wanted to ask him, "What about the moldings? The old growth wood they ripped out? Did they keep the light fixtures? Or the doors? Maybe the old locks? How much unnecessary stuff was sent to the landfill?" But there was no point in the time that we were there.
There is always a fine line between preserving something old and replacing it with something new. On that continuum I tend towards the preserve something old. The country as a whole though tends to lean far towards "Replace it with something new." New is not always better, even if it might be cheaper. Of course old is not always better either.
I had a discussion with a co-worker last summer about the dangers of buying an old house, specifically around the health hazards - lead, asbestos, faulty wiring, etc. He was adamant against buying an old house due to these risks. My reply was to look at new houses and some of their issues - mold, petrochemicals, VOCs, etc. I think he saw my point.