Pretty Good House Handbook
Existing Homes
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Helen Watts, the author
House Siting
Existing Homes

Page 18 talks about existing homes. The key point is that EVERY existing home is different. Some are in poor condition, some have been modified (maybe a few times), some started with more enthusiasm than skill... Some have historic value, or are a tight fit on a lot.
Tweaking an existing home starts with an energy audit - where are the leaks? A run-through of your house with an auditer and a good thermal-imaging camera will find interesting things. The camera will work best when the temperature difference is biggest between the inside and the outside.
A well-maintained home will last longer and in better condition - the return-on-investment for maintenance is HUGE.
Make your purchases based on the expected life of the product. Asphalt roofing looks like a good deal, but in the long run metal roofing will outlast it - and it won't need replacing before the solar panels. Asphalt shingles have a life expectancy, in Maine, of 12-18 years. Freeze-thaw conditions, ice dams. And then you have to replace the roof, and those shingles do not get recycled most of the time because you have to separate the nails... Metal roofs can usually get 40 years - then you slap a coat of roofing paint on, get another 10 years, then the metal is recycled.
One of my editors is quite certain that this page should be a board game, 11x17... Hmmmm.

Honor the character of the older home.

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