6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House: written by katie haydock for life on vista street in conjunction with #hnhomestylingWe have now lived on Vista Street for eight years. Eight mostly happy years anyway… Happily married and happy family life: but not always happy with our home.

Our house is a large mid-terraced, built in the 1930’s. We’ve made it into a lovely home and (even if I do say so myself) it is nicely decorated.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House: written by katie haydock for life on vista street in conjunction with #hnhomestyling
I use pretty covered and interesting books to adorn my dining room table and coffee tables…

I like to use some of our monthly household budget to buy fresh flowers (when I can’t pick them out of the garden) and I adore a good smelly candle or two.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House: written by katie haydock for life on vista street in conjunction with #hnhomestyling
Updated IKEA Billy bookcase with wallpaper with added vintage style storage boxes for craft items… As always, bright candles and flowers where I can see them.

That said – if we had invested as much money in upgrading and polishing our home as we have spent fixing things: when we came to move on we’d be quids in. But as it stands, this is the one thing that is putting us off moving AND staying. We need a new boiler, front door and garden fencing. If we stay we’ll need to spend another pot of gold on repairs rather than improvements, and if we move we’ll have to reduce the price tag of our home according. And so for now we stay and make the most of our house as it is by styling it.

But if I had any advice for anyone thinking of buying an old terraced house, it would be to really think about it…

6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House

1. It’s Cold… Downstairs

The boiler in our house is at least fifteen years old. If not older. As are the radiators. It’s a good job we have a gas fire in the lounge or the whole of the downstairs would be impossible to heat with central heating alone. Want hot water and heating simultaneously?… not on Vista Street.

Once the fire is going it can, however, heat the entire house. A worthy investment.

2. It’s Hot… Upstairs

Heat rises. And we made a worthy investment in insulation… and now once the house is warm the heat doesn’t escape through the roof. Wonderful.

But maybe not during the summer months when our glorious south facing home is a sun trap and we bake whilst we sleep.

There is no pleasing some people.

3. ‘Friends’

Old houses are full of tiny little nooks and crannies and pencil sized holes. This spells ‘Luxury Mouse Hotel’. *Shudders*.

I can cope with spiders. I can cope with the odd woodlouse. I cannot cope with mice and their tails! Thank the lord for Steve.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House: written by katie haydock for life on vista street in conjunction with #hnhomestyling - meet steve the cat
Little Miss Vista’s Tee Pee brightens our front room in matching autumnal tones…

4. Sound Proofing

Me in my kitchen: “Achoo”
The man next door 20 feet away in his bathroom: “Bless you”…

Some of the walls in our house have been re-plastered and offer a little more soundproofing than the existing ones. But make no mistake – if next door are having a party you’re going: weather you are invited or not!

5. Expensive

Like the rest of the house – the plumbing is old. We’ve spent a considerable amount of money re-jigging the upstairs bathroom plumbing and re-decorating the dining room ceiling.


Almost everything in your home will need to be replaced. Plumbing, electrics, gas pipes. If you don’t replace them, then your home fixtures, fittings and appliances will break. A lot.

We just don’t seem to be able to hang on to toasters…

6. Beware The Cowboys

We bought our house off a ‘nice’ property developer. He did a really good job of painting a pretty picture, but in reality he did things like:

  • Put the electricity box and skirting boards OVER the carpet…
  • And very kindly glued the underlay with industrial strength ACME comedy glue to the concrete floor. This was a lot of fun when we had our entire downstairs flooring done last year.
  • It took us weeks to find our water stopcock as it was hidden behind the fitted kitchen cupboards… and when we moved in we discovered that all of the tap connectors to the water mains had been removed. On. Every. Single. Tap!

It’s not that I’m saying there is anything wrong with old terraced houses. I think my home is beautiful and steeped in its own rich history. But I do consider how cost effective it is in the long run and how many more toys we can store in our two up, two down.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House: written by katie haydock for life on vista street in conjunction with #hnhomestyling
More printed, vintage style storage boxes for all of Little Miss Vista’s kitchen essentials…

We have managed to style our house up and add funky storage without spending a lot of money – but the none cosmetic aspects of the upkeep of our home have made a bigger dent in our bank account.

Would you live in an old house? 

Thanks so much for reading: 6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House

**With thanks to House Network for sending us a Home Styling Kit**



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9 thoughts on “6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying An Old Terraced House

  1. Ha ha … I hear you! Soundproofing, dodgy electrics, plumbing, chimneys leaking…our house isn’t called the money pit for nothing! But saying that I love the look and feel of old houses and have never been drawn to new builds. But, they need so much LOVE (and money). Looks like yu have made a beautiful home despite the pitfalls #homeetc

  2. Oh yes I feel your pain. Our first house was an end terrace and we had all the issues you mention. The downstairs was so cold, we often had ice on the inside of the windows and our boiler leaked too. The plus side was we did have big rooms because it was an older house and I do miss the character now that we live in a new build 🙂 #HomeEtc
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  3. We rent a terraced house and can completely agree with hearing so much of your neighbours and after reading your list I’m wondering if it’s the house electrics that has our toaster on the blink and keeps destroying the kettles we don’t actually use that much…

  4. Hahah great post; we recently moved from an ex-council home built in 1939 to a brand new (built in 2015) home and I can honestly say I love it. I do not miss being cold downstairs, nor the number of ‘friends’ (namely slugs) that visited, and I certainly do not miss having to put previous bodge-jobs right before making any improvements or alterations! #HomeEtc

  5. YES! Always. Despite all those things, I would STILL live in an old house!! That said, I’ve never lived mid-terrace — we’ve always been in a semi, so *can* still hear neighbours very occasionally but not enough to be annoying.

    Often terraced houses keep the heat in because you have neighbour’s either side who are insulating you. I think the heating issue is more the developer’s fault, who sold it to you, rather than the house itself. That’s really mean of him to sell it on with a substandard heating system!! Git. Despite all those things Katie, it looks lovely and homely and welcoming!! Thanks so much for linking up with us gorgeous girl — so happy to have you!! 🙂 xxxx #HomeEtc
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  6. Your house looks lovely Katie’ having lived in both old houses and now our new build I would take the old every time! So much more space, character and charm even with all the things that drive you mad! Having said that it has been quite nice moving in here and not having to worry about plumbing and boilers and things. I grew up in a 100 year old house my parents did up, they were always working on it right to the time I moved out but to me it was perfect 🙂 xx

  7. This is awesome advice for someone who is looking into an old, terraced house. Thanks for providing pictures! Insulation is definitely a benefit during the winter months, though I can see where you’d run into some discomfort in the summer. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

  8. We rent a mid terraced. We’ve been here just under 3 years and we want out! I love older homes filled with little quirks that newer homes will never have and I fell in love the minute we viewed it..3 years later and wedged between two very noisy neighbours the charm has well and truly gone. I don’t enjoy having to settle my young child numerous times in the night because of parties one side and loud televisions the other side..I will be well and truly glad to see the back of this place because it’s turned me into an anxiety filled mess. Having said that though we have decorated the house beautifully, the garden is large and the high ceilings and two reception rooms give the impression of a much bigger home (it looks tiny from the front) but my advice is if you like peace and quiet and you are financially in a position to choose a different type of home, do so!

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