I think that the next time we buy a house, I'd like to see it NOT re-painted. Conventional wisdom says that before putting a house on the market, its a good idea to paint the interior a nice neutral color. We've repainted the majority of our interior rooms now and they look much better. The paint also hides all the flaws in the plaster. I think I'd much rather not know the true shape of the walls.
One of the houses that we looked at was in a desirable neighborhood and had the feel of a house where the occupants had overstayed. Overstayed houses are houses that were once lavished with love and attention. Then the occupants stayed well past their ability to care for the house, whether due to financial or health reasons, and the house slid into disrepair.
This particular house had late seventies decor. Wallpaper was holding loose plaster to the wall. The floor was uneven. The chimney needed to be rebuilt. There were signs of water damage in some of the rooms. It had a lot of potential, but the lot was very small and the house was built on the edge of a ravine, so it had no backyard. It wasn't what we were looking for.
We only saw a few "overstayed" houses, but ours was one of them. The most egregious example of water damage in our home at the time of purchase was this.
The problem comes from our built-in gutters over the front entry. (Ms. Huis thought it'd be great to get a picture of me too - I'm taking apart the dining room window, the one I don't know what to do with yet.) The gutters have been lined with black pond liner to try and increase their lifespan, but it's not working very well.
Unfortunately, the gutter (or the soffit) tilts towards the house. The water runs back towards the house and then along the brickwork. This had been going on so long, that the water dissolved the mortar holding the brick together. The water would travel through the brick to the window lintel and then into the house.
There was no point in painting or plastering this area right away, and the first winter we had a little bucket under the window to catch the drips. Then last year we had the house tuck pointed. Now that those gaping holes are plugged, the water running against the house stays outside the house. Last winter the window and wall were dry, even in the face of record snowfall. We finally felt comfortable painting the dining room.
The tuck pointing is only part of the solution of course. Getting the gutters and roof replaced on the front entry is on the list of things to do in the next few years.