Welcome to my blog devoted to Century Homes!

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Interested in Century Homes?…..You have come to the right place!

As untitleda lover of century homes, and an owner of several century homes over the decade(s); I began this blog devoted to Century Homes, allowing me to share my passion of these charming beauties.

This blog will interest old home lovers, owners or those contemplating a purchase.

You will find tips regarding maintenance, construction and renovations; beautiful century homes in the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge region; and  information that relates to century homes in general.

As a real estate agent with Re/Max Twin City Realty in Kitchener, I am asked many questions which I will incorporate into my posts.  I am also an avid decorator and love renovating, sources of supplies/services and great shops in the area will also be posted.

I am happy to share old home owner information, past experiences, décor tips, photos and information of fabulous older homes on my blog…Enjoy!

Interested in selling or purchasing a century home?….contact me and I would be happy to help!

Barbara Niemann, A.S.A.; Real Estate Sales Representative

http://www.kwrealestatelady.com

Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc. Kitchener, Ontario

51 Benton Street, Kitchener

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51 Benton Collage.jpg51 Benton St.:  Formerly Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home

Fortunately I have not visited many funeral homes for their intended purpose, but I have had the opportunity of viewing many century old funeral homes across Southern Ontario in my previous career as an advertising consultant.  In no way would I be considered morbid.  Association with death does not appeal to me, but I did enjoy every funeral home appointment.  Most appointments included a tour, including historical background about the original owner, if I was lucky.  (An added bonus to these appointments….they were always quiet, peaceful and interrupted.. a sales reps dream!)  What has intrigued me about century old funeral homes is their beautiful architecture and the meticulous attention most current owners apply to the maintenance and up-keep of the original features.

I travel daily by foot (or car) past the former Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home located on the corner of Benton & Church Street at 51 Benton Street in Kitchener.  I have always admired the architecture of this beautiful Victorian Italianate, featuring a Widow’s Peak in original photos.

The Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home sold in the early part of 2015.  Over the following months, I have noticed the previous business sign gone and the windows replaced.  My imagination began to wander…..what a beautiful home this could be!  My question; “Would you live in a home that was formerly a funeral home?  After thinking about this, I would have to say Yes!”     With over 8,000 sq.ft. of useable space, I suppose it would be too large as a residential home for most of us.  With several additions the over the decades, I could still envision a beautiful family home with an additional in-law unit(s), or possibly an amazing B & B operation?  Maybe this location would become condos or apartment rentals? Possibly a restaurant and banquet facilities? Assuming zoning would be permitted.  As long as it is not torn down, I would be happy…. and on that note,  it does not look like 51 Benton St. will be a victim to the demolition ball.

Searching through the City of Kitchener website, it appears that the new owners have applied for approval to alter the current parking facilities for the business of a Medical Center.

A bit of history: Built in 1853, 51 Benton Street was family home of Edwin Perry Clement, a prominent lawyer, and his wife Jane, daughter of early Kitchener physician Dr. D.S. Bowlby, until 1924.  A.G. Schreiter bought the funeral business (and a furniture business) from the Simpson Co. in Kitchener.  The funeral business moved to this location in 1928. It became known as the Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home in 1939. Two locals, Jerome Futher and Douglas Hallman, bought the business from Sandrock in 1967.

Kitchener funeral businesses occupy (or have occupied) some of the most beautiful century old homes in the past.  More recently the Ratz-Bechtel Funeral Home (formerly the Kaufman House Mansion) at 621 King Street, has hit the real estate market.  Wondering what the future use will be?

 

 

116 Cedar Street S, Kitchener Ontario….SOLD!

Exterior Front 2Circa 1880, this lovely home has been well maintained over many, many years.  Offering a 2 bedroom (converted from a 3 bedroom) to offer a more spacious updated bathroom in addition to two spacious bedrooms.  The kitchen offers a walk-out to the back deck, plus a new granite counter top and glass backsplash.  The detached double garage and workshop, as well as a huge backyard space for parking, is a dream for the car enthusiast or handyman.  Mechanical updates have been done, roof 2007 and furnace 2010.   Location is prime!….steps to the new LRT, Kitchener Farmers Market, Victoria Park and the Tech Hub.  Offered at: SOLD

Call 519-588-5010 or email barbara001@rogers.com for a showing.

#8 of Ten Tips ….Buying A Century Home: Home Insurance

home insurance

If you are considering the purchase of a century home, (actually any home that is 30 years or older would apply), make sure your Real Estate Agent includes a clause “Conditional on Obtaining Insurance”.

It seems Insurance Companies are becoming more particular with house insurance.  Your Insurance Company may have concerns with the following:

  • Knob and Tube Wiring (use the search option on this site for Knob & Tube Wiring for more details). Knob & Tube wiring is considered a higher risk mainly because there is no ground wire; the wires are highly susceptible to wearing and exposure, presenting a safety hazard.  You may be required to replace all exposed knob and tube wiring with approved permanent wiring material before obtaining insurance coverage.

 

  • 60-amp Electrical Serivce (use the search option on this site for 60-amp Electrical for more more details).  Insurance companies are concerned that the 60-amp service poses the threat of overuse and overheating, increasing the risk of an electrical fire, and subsequent claim.  Your insurance company will most likely require you to upgrade your electrical service to 100-amps.

 

NOTE: Should any electrical issues be present, be sure that your Real Estate Agent includes a clause “Conditional upon an ESA inspection”.  Homes with wiring issues need to be inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority in Ontario, then deemed safe. Your Real Estate Agent should be knowledgeable to guide you through this process.

 

  • Galvanized Steel Plumbing (use the search option on this site for Plumbing….Galvanized Steel & Leaded Pipes for more details). Galvanized steel pipes have an average life expectancy of 40 – 50 years.  Over time, galvanized steel pipes begin to rust or corrode from the inside out, resulting in reduced water pressure and restricted water flow.  This presents risks of leaks or ruptures in the pipes and potential for flood damage.  Your insurance company most likely will require you to replace the galvanized steel piping with copper or plastic piping before providing you with insurance coverage.

 

  • Wood Burning Stove or Wood Burning Fireplaces.  Nothing beats a crackling wood burning fire, whether in a wood burning stove or fireplace….but insurance companies know that if a stove/fireplace is not properly installed and used properly, it can become a serious fire hazard.  For this reason, your insurance company will require that your stove/fireplace be inspected by a certified Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) Technician.  Many home inspectors now offer this certification with their home inspection.  Be sure that your Real Estate Agent includes the clause that your purchase is “Conditional upon  WETT Certification”.  Should your inspection be unsatisfactory, you do have the option of converting your wood burning fireplace to gas, or closing/eliminating it completely.

 

  • Fuel Oil Tank (use the search option on this site for Oil Tanks for more details). If the property you are considering to purchase has an oil tank, most insurance companies will only insure a fuel oil tank if it is 20-25 years old and has been inspected and certified by a Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) Inspector.  Again….be sure your Real Estate Agent inserts a clause in your offer that your purchase is “Conditional upon TSSA Inspection”.  If your oil tank is 25 years or older, you may be required to replace it with a gas or electric furnace.

A quick summary….make sure to factor the cost of necessary upgrades, should any of the above apply to your offer to purchase.  Usually your insurance company will give a 30 day grace to have improvements completed.   Any questions? Feel free to contact me….

Barbara Niemann, Sales Representative

Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc., Brokerage (Kitchener Head Office)

email: barbara001@rogers.com

Direct: (519) 588-5010

 

 

ELECTRICAL…..60-amp Electrical Service

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60-amp electrical service was common in homes built prior to 1950.  Many century homes that were serviced with knob and tube wiring, converted to a 60-amp service.

Most homes today have a 100 or 200 amp service. But some still have only a 60 amp service. 60-amps is not enough to service a home with an electric stove, oven, clothes dryer, air conditioner, and so on.

Even if your home operates safely with a 60 amp service, the problem lies in insuring the home. If you are presently living in a home with a 60 amp service and you already have insurance, you may not need to upgrade. A home with a 60 amp service that has a gas stove and gas clothes dryer will have as much available power as a home with a 100 amp service that feeds major electrical appliances.

The concern has more to do with the branch circuit wiring. If you have very few outlets and find you have to snake extension cords throughout the house, an electrician may be able to add more circuits in the areas most needed.

Sometimes practicality forces a decision: if your electrical panel has no room for more circuits, upgrade the panel, or add a sub panel, and it may make more sense to upgrade the entire service at that point.

Insurance companies are concerned with the threat of overuse and overheating, increasing the risk of an electrical fire and a subsequent claim. Your insurance company may require you to upgrade your 60-amp service to 100-amps (the standard for new construction).

A good electrician can evaluate the entire system and recommend an upgrade path appropriate for your home and your needs.

60 amp service

SOLD…..BEAUTIFUL LOFT IN A CENTURY OLD BUILDING!

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The Mansion Lofts in Kitchener provides the lifestyle of an established neighbourhood and convenient highway accessibility….plus within walking distance to Center In The Square and the downtown Kitchener core. A great neighbourhood! The Mansion Lofts are surrounded primarily by single family homes, a very unique location!

Living in downtown Kitchener will let you experience life the way you want it. Have fun trying and choosing your favourites out of the many local hotspots, and become a regular in your neighbourhood! Events and music in the street, pubs, boutiques, cafes, and markets all add to the incredible feel of living Downtown. The area is upcoming and exciting, creative new businesses, an imaginative community, and state-of-the-art architecture make Downtown a lively place to call it home.

This lovely loft features high ceilings; located on the top floor; corner unit with huge windows and Juliette balcony; two bedrooms; one bath; open concept living room/kitchen/dining area; in-suite laundry facilities….everything you want in a loft!

Offered at: SOLD

If interested….please contact me for more details!
Mansiongrid

#7 of Ten Tips….Buying A Century Home

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Look up!…….Ceilings

When purchasing a century home, look up and check all ceilings for stains. Stains can indicate faulty roofing in need of replacement or repair, leaks from plumbing and/or radiator heating pipes. Ask your realtor to investigate and have your home inspector determine if these stains are of significance, or if the problem has been corrected.

Look for ceiling cracks. Cracks in the plaster of older houses may signal disaster or simply reflect the wrinkles of age.  Some cracks in plaster houses are really of little concern. These include the cracks in wood lath ceilings. A very serious crack, which generally means foundation trouble is one which runs along the ceiling and then down a wall. Cracks like this usually occur all at once and are accompanied by some floor sagging or sloping. They should be investigated by your home inspector.

A fabulous feature of most century homes is the grand ceiling height, (excluding Craftsman architecture, where ceilings tended to be lower, but many made up for that showcasing fabulous exposed timbers). Keep in mind that the further you progress up in a century home, the ceilings usually become lower leaving the third floor with the lowest ceiling (this floor was usually reserved for servants). Typically the main floor showcased the craftsmanship of plastered ceilings. Decorative plaster was expensive and usually confined to principle rooms. Many plaster ceilings were embellished with hand modelled plaster in classical motifs, sometimes with ornate painting.

So what happened to many of these beautiful crafted ceilings over the years?……the addition of modern amenities such as electricity, heating, plumbing, etc. caused  concealment.  Many beautiful ceilings started to drop to conceal electrical cables, plumbing, pipes and duct work. Skilled craftsmen were able to add these amenities without compromising the architectural integrity, but many century homes became victims of inexperienced D.I.Y.’ers or inexperienced contractors in the years to come.

I cannot tell you how many century homes I have viewed with “dreaded” ceilings. When showing homes to clients, #1 on the worst of ceilings list is the dreaded “popcorn” ceiling.  Also known as ‘cottage cheese’ or ‘stucco’; it was an easy fix to conceal imperfections. This ceiling surface always receives a reaction of horror. “Popcorn ceilings” became popular in the 1950’s up to the 1980’s. With a life span of 30 years….far too many of these ceilings still exist. Unfortunately, some of the early formulations contained white asbestos fibres. Popcorn ceilings can be removed, although the process is messy. Popcorn texturing can be removed by spraying it with water to soften it, then scraping the material off with a large scraping trowel or putty knife. If the texturing was applied before the ban on asbestos, removal should only be done by a licensed professional, or after testing a sample by a qualified laboratory, who can determine asbestos content.

Segway … to a current used ceiling texture the “California Ceiling”. Although this ceiling texture is popular with new home construction, it is a mottled texture (primarily used to conceal imperfections from drywall contractors). The finish/texture is less intense than popcorn, similar to the texture of an orange peel. In my opinion….not “century home” friendly.

#2 on the dreaded list of ceilings is the dropped, suspended, acoustical tile, or T-bar ceiling. Originally intended to be used for acoustical/soundproofing purposes, it became very popular in the 1960’s+.  It was inexpensive, easy to install and easy to conceal piping, wiring and duct work. Very popular in basements, but eventually (and unfortunately),  made its way upstairs. Much easier to remove than the popcorn ceiling.

When thinking of amazing ceiling treasures/transformations, I have to mention Puddicombe House in New Hamburg, Ontario. Several years ago, while living in Stratford, Ontario (home of beautiful century homes!), my daughter and I ventured out in the winter to Waterloo. When leaving Waterloo to return home to Stratford, a major snow storm was in the works. On Hwy 8 we were stopped by road blocks in New Hamburg, there was no way of going home. Driving around New Hamburg, hoping to find some accommodation,  we found a gorgeous B&B. Feeling a little desperate, (the owners were in the middle of hosting a Christmas party), luckily they were able to accommodate us. What a beautiful place….totally renovated by Lyle and Karen Cressman.  http://www.puddicombehouse.com (click on ‘Revising The Past: New Hamburg; under Newsletter & Reviews, to see the amazing reveal!)

Circa 1868, the Puddicombe House was extensively restored in 2006 to accommodate a full service restaurant, spa and hair salon, as well as a bed and breakfast. The house features impressive Italianate architecture and rich décor. It has 12 foot ceilings with plaster cornice molding and painted detail. In the morning I did have a chance to learn a little about their extensive renovations, all impressive, but most of all…..once they removed the drop ceilings, the ornate plastered and painted ceilings were beyond words!!

You never know what is under the dropped ceilings in a century home!

California Stucco Ceiling

California Stucco Ceiling

Dropped Ceiling

Dropped Ceiling

Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn Ceiling

Puddicombe House B & B

Puddicombe House B & B

Original Victorian Plaster Painted Ceiling

Original Victorian Plaster Painted Ceiling

SOLD….Beautiful East Galt (Cambridge) Charmer

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How quickly summer has passed, time to get back to posting! I had to add this beautiful property to Real Estate For Sale. Old home lovers will appreciate this…..

This beautiful 1850’s Victorian is located in the heart of historical East Galt, Cambridge. Immaculate and lovingly maintained, this 2151 sq.ft. charmer features 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Some of the wonderful features include; a beautiful original curved staircase plus a second back staircase, hardwood floors, two stunning arched bay windows with original trim, wood burning fireplace in the living room, a cozy functional kitchen with butcher block counters, farmers sink! and pantry, separate dining room, second floor laundry, main floor office or 4th bedroom, main floor family room with skylight. The main bathroom features a gorgeous claw foot tub and skylight.

Updates include windows, electrical, plumbing, central air, central vac, and the roof has been replaced in 2008. The exterior offers a low maintenance yard with stamped concrete and triple wide parking. The unfinished basement offers ample space, waiting to be finished to suit your needs.

Interested in more information?….feel free to contact me.

Offered at: SOLD

Charming Curb Appeal

Charming Curb Appeal

Front scape with partial view of 3 car parking

Front scape with partial view of 3 car parking

Close up of beautiful original Corbels

Close up of beautiful original Corbels

Light and bright entrance

Light and bright entrance

Stunning main staircase

Stunning main staircase

Beautiful bowed window in living room

Beautiful bowed window in living room

Separate dining room featuring another beautiful bowed window

Separate dining room featuring another beautiful bowed window

Functional kitchen with farmer's sink and butcher block counters...opening up to a family room

Functional kitchen with farmer’s sink and butcher block counters…opening up to a family room

One of 3+1 bedrooms, featuring curved ceilings

One of 3+1 bedrooms, featuring curved ceilings

Clawfoot Tub in main bath

Clawfoot Tub in main bath

Maintenance free yard

Maintenance free yard

Real Estate For Sale …. Beautiful Charmer in West Galt!

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Located on a quiet tree-lined street in desirable West Galt, Cambridge, is a beautiful 3 bedroom two storey home. Upon entering you can feel the charm in this century home full of signs from yesterday year with original wood trim and some original wood floors preciously preserved. Pride of ownership has kept this home in wonderful condition with modern updates such as a family room addition with vaulted ceilings and gas fireplace. Step in to the back yard and you enter an oasis, equipped with a deck for entertaining and built-in swimming pool.

Definitely worthwhile considering. Feel free to contact me for further details.

Offered at: This property is sold.

 

Exterior Front

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West Galt – Cambridge

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Over the weekend I had the pleasure of viewing a fantastic home which was on the ‘House & Garden Tour of Note’, in support of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. All seven homes were beautiful, but one home in particular made we want to move right in!

Located in the quaint historical area of West Galt in Cambridge, the home I loved is a Georgian colonial, built in 1898 for a partner in the Babock and Wilcox Company.
The structure of this stunning home features 12 paned windows with shutters and double brick. Many interior and exterior renovations have been recently completed, featuring a beautiful pool with stone surroundings. The spacious interior boasts more than 5,000 sq. ft, including a third floor which was used as the servants’ living quarters. In later years the third floor was converted to two apartments and currently renovated back to suit a single family with bedrooms, den and a craft room…..not to mention an amazing skylight which was uncovered in a closet during the renovations.

After the tour we had to visit the shops along Main Street in downtown Galt. The owners of this fabulous home also own ‘Cornerstone Home Interiors’, (cornerstonefurniture.ca) a great place to find great pieces for a century home.  Another great store we visited was ‘The Art of Home’, (theartofhome.ca) full of vintage and new décor finds….with super friendly staff!

West Galt Georgian Colonial

West Galt Georgian Colonial

Downtown Galt in 1894

Downtown Galt in 1894