Save This Old House: An Classic New England Farmhouse With Loads of Potential

For handy buyers, the price is right for this pretty North Kingstown property.

Sometimes, one man’s fixer-upper is another man’s — well, fixer-upper.

In 2011, a bachelor bought this picturesque New England farmhouse in a quiet pocket of Tower Hill Road in North Kingstown. Eight years, a wife, three kids and three big dogs later, this old farmhouse is still a work in progress and the family is looking to move on. Some updates have been completed — including a new oil tank, hot water heater, electric panel work and replacement windows — but cosmetic deficiencies abound.

According to the tax assessor’s office, the home was built in 1900. But listing agent Karen Wilder, with Mateus Realty, says that’s the default year for older houses with uncertain histories in North Kingstown. A former title examiner, Wilder believes the home was actually built around 1850.

Many original details are intact, including the stone foundation, pine flooring with cut nails and historic moldings. But they all need attention — especially the floors, which require a good sanding. The kitchen, “a standard issue 1980s builders-grade kitchen,” Wilder says, is functioning but crying out for a complete overhaul.

The home is livable as it stands; the current homeowners are there right now. But it may not qualify for an FHA loan, due to some missing handrails and peeling paint. An outbuilding on the property with a dirt floor and electrical wiring — a spooky thought for a home inspector — is included in the sale as-is.

Despite its flaws, Wilder says the bones of the place are strong. Both the roof and clapboard siding are in decent shape and aren’t showing signs of rot. The structural integrity of the home has not been compromised. Its curb appeal — a pretty yellow house on a main road with a red door and a picket fence — is as good as it gets. The asking price, $229,900, is not prohibitive for do-it-yourselfers with access to up-front renovation funding. And, blessedly, the house suffers from minor neglect, not trend-driven quick fixes (read: less demo, more elbow grease).

“Sometimes you see these places and you wonder, ‘What were they thinking?’ ” Wilder says of renovations gone wrong, when homeowners work against the home’s design instead of honoring it. She’s no stranger to home renovation — she and her ex-husband renovated a place in Snug Harbor plagued with faux wood paneling and shag carpeting — so she appreciates a project with a solid return on investment.

“For this house, it’s a question of finding the right buyer for it — someone who appreciates it,” she says. “I have had a couple of people come in and say, ‘For the location, we should tear it down and build new.’ ”

Wilder admits her gut reaction to such propositions is to take back her business card. “That’s the problem with loving older homes,” she says. “You get defensive!”

Will somebody please save this old house?

An open house is scheduled for this Sunday, May 19 from noon to 2 p.m. To schedule a private viewing, contact Karen Wilder at 401-487-7605 or visit mateusrealty.net.

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