Expensive Victorian Houses: Are They Money Pits?  6 min read

Victorian houses are appealing to live in due to their excellent build quality and architectural charm. Victorian houses are expensive and often sell for in excess of $1m. 

However, if you don’t do proper research, you may spend over $30k on urgent foundation repairs and up to $7k on roof restorations.  

Keep reading to understand the true attractiveness of Victorian houses, how to intelligently add value and how to avoid buying a lemon. 

Here’s Whether Victorian Houses Are Worth It:

Due to their high ceilings and appealing architecture, Victorian houses are desirable and are 5% to 15% more expensive than modern houses. Victorian houses can be very expensive to repair if serious pre-existing issues exist. Look out in particular for damp walls, damaged foundations and faulty electrics. 

How Much Are Victorian Houses? 

Depending on the level of restoration the Victorian house has received, you’ll be able to find houses for as low as $50,000 and as high as $1.5M.

Old Victorian houses can be found throughout the states with most of the restored ones being located in Old Louisville, Kentucky. 

The average price of Victorian houses in Old Louisville is around $165,500 to $250,000 per 2000sq. ft. However, not all of the houses are restored and some will need additional restoration costs. 

Another state famous for having historical houses is California; specifically San Francisco. You’ll find many Edwardian houses alongside Victorian. 

The price range for Victorian houses in San Francisco is noticeably different from Old Louisville with the average price being $1M for a 1000 sq. ft house.

This red and white Victorian house is in Flemington, New Jersey.

Are Victorian Houses More Expensive Than Average?

Victorian houses are often more expensive than their modern counterparts. 

While looking through the many houses in the market, you’ll notice that Victorian houses’ prices will be around 5 to 15 percent higher, which makes them more expensive than average. 

Why Are Victorian Houses Expensive?

Victorian houses are typically more expensive than other houses due to being in high demand, boasting unique architecture and high build quality.  

1. High Demand

When it comes to architecture, there’s no doubt that Victorian houses are in a different league. With all the history and character that come with these homes, many people are naturally attracted to them. And because there isn’t any shortage of buyers, the price will rise compared to other houses. 

There’s also the fact that some people specifically look for Victorian houses rather than modern ones. Since the market for Victorian houses is ever-growing no matter how many years pass, the prices will naturally accommodate the demand. 

2. Architecture

Victorian houses have a lot of unique designs both from the exterior and interior of the house. 

One of the more notable designs is its high ceilings. Victorian houses are known to have higher ceilings than many modern buildings of the same size. 

There are also the bigger-sized rooms and thicker walls that differentiate Victorian houses from others. 

As long as a Victorian house isn’t modernized, you’ll find beautifully carved fireplaces and ornaments around the house. Not to mention the wooden floor or victorian encaustic tiles, all these features add to the beauty and value of the house. 

3. Longevity

Most of the Victorian houses were built in the middle of the 1800s to the early 1900s

This means that they’ve managed to stay intact for hundreds of years and are still in livable conditions. Talk about longevity!

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Victorian-Style House?

The building cost of a Victorian house will change depending on how you want to build your house. Whether you want your house to contain all the fine-intricate details of an old Victorian house, or if you want a more simple Victorian-style house. 

A more simple Victorian house will have the same average price per square foot as any other house. So you’ll be expected to pay around $100 or $200 per square foot. 

However, if you’d like to have a more detailed Victorian house, then the price can rise to approximately $500 per square foot. 

The overall average price of building a Victorian house will be around $260,000 up to $650,000 total for 1300 sq. ft. 

Modern reproductions of Victorian houses can look impressive.

Are Victorian Houses Expensive to Maintain?

Since they were built many years ago, Victorian houses will need some maintenance work done to make them comfortable to live in.

The cost of this maintenance will all depend on the house’s condition. Some houses will require foundation restoration, which can cost either $200 or $30,000 depending on how major the damage is. Other houses will need roof restorations, which will cost around $170 to $7000. 

There’s also the issue with heating. Since the ceilings are high, it takes a longer time to heat the house. In addition to the walls lacking insulation, it can be quite hard to deal with in winter. 

That’s why if you live in a colder zone, you’ll need to add insulation to the walls, which will also add to the costs of maintaining the house. Insulations typically cost around $1000 to $3000 on average. 

The following is a list of everything you might need to maintain in a Victorian house. Keep in mind that your house might not need any maintenance to be done. These are just examples that apply for older, unrestored houses. 

  • Foundation
  • Roofing
  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Paints
  • Gas
  • Wooden flooring / Tiles
  • Windows
  • Masonry

Are Victorian Houses Money Pits? 

Victorian houses can be money pits, but it all comes down to whether the house is in a good condition or not. As long as the house isn’t obviously falling apart and only needs minor restorations, then it’s most likely not going to be a money pit. 

Just like every other house, Victorian houses will only need the occasional maintenance if they’re in a good condition. However, if they’re not, they can cost a fortune to restore and thus, become a money pit. 

Some Victorian houses won’t look like it from the outside, but if you pay close attention, you’ll see that they’re in serious need of restoration. In this case, you can either avoid the house or shoulder the restoration expenses. 

Here are a couple of things to look out for while looking at a Victorian house: 

1. Moist Walls

While walking around the house, specifically in the basement, if you notice any moisture in the walls, then this might mean that there’s a plumbing and drainage issue. 

This water leakage can lead to molds forming inside the walls if left alone which can become dangerous. 

In addition to that, it can weaken the walls and you’ll notice cracks begin to form, which will add to the overall fixing cost. 

This picture shows plaster stripped back revealing rising damp. This can be extremely costly to fix.

2. Electricity

If the electrical wires around the house haven’t been updated, it can be quite dangerous to be left alone. Old wiring consisted of copper wires inside ceramic tubes and, sometimes, a cotton cloth would be covering them. 

This type of electrical wiring is not safe and can potentially lead to fires igniting. So it’s best to avoid houses with these types of wiring if you’re unable to upgrade to modern wires. 

What Is The Most Expensive Victorian House? 

The most expensive Victorian house is Hall Place in Tonbridge, England

Hall Place costs around $19,608,705 with around 1000 acres of land, four cottages, and multiple gardens. 

This beautiful mansion has a lake in the surrounding property with a dairy farm and outbuildings. So you won’t only be getting a gorgeous Victorian house, but also a lot of greenery and land around.

Are Victorian Houses Better Quality?

Victorian houses tend to be more sturdy since they’re built from bricks and can last for many years. They also contain wide spaces and beautiful designs. 

The only downside to owning Victorian houses is their age. However, if you have a newly built Victorian house or a completely restored Victorian house, they can be considered better quality than modern homes, though it all comes down to your personal preference and whether you’d like a more old-fashioned house or a newer one to live in. 

How Do You Add Value to a Victorian House? 

You can add more value to your Victorian house by maintaining its old charm:

  • For example, don’t remove any of its old features. If the tiles are still there, don’t remove or replace them with modern ones. And try not to put a carpet or hide them.
  • If the house still has its original front door, keep the door and don’t replace it. It might need some retouching so you can do that to add to its value. 
  • If the door has been replaced by a more modern-looking one, it’s better to replace it with a Victorian-style one to return the original appeal.
  • Most Victorian houses have fireplaces. If yours has one, be sure to fix it if you haven’t been using it. A maintained fireplace will add value to your Victorian house as it adds to the old aesthetic of the room it’s in.
High-quality restorations to a Victorian house significantly add value.

How Do You Renovate a Victorian House? 

You can renovate a Victorian house by doing the following:

  • Fixing Window sills. 
  • Repair any broken floor tiles.
  • Repainting the walls in your preferred colors.
  • If the ceiling roses have been removed, replace them with new ones.
  • Adding Extension to your house. This will allow you to have more space and also allow more sun to enter your home. 
  • Remove the walls around the stairs if you feel like they’re too closed up.

Do Victorian Houses Hold Value?

Victorian houses have managed to last for hundreds of years and still maintained their value.

There’s always someone ready to buy them so they won’t be losing their value even as years pass. That’s why Victorian houses are both a great place to live and a great investment for the future. 

Conclusion

As the years pass, the interest in Victorian houses increases for their unique, dark aesthetic and historical design. 

Whilst Victorian houses are more expensive and can hold their value, it’s very important to ensure you’re not purchasing a money pit with pre-existing issues. Look out in particular for foundation issues, poorly wired electrics and damp walls. 

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