Once Identical Twin Houses

These once identical houses were built side-by-side in 1830, likely “on spec” by a developer-builder. Sometime later, they each had a new kitchen added (to accommodate cast iron cookstoves), and both gained a dormer window. These additions were close but not matching.

The houses likely remained very similar until c. 2000. Since then, the bottom house’s owner(s) made choices that changed its character and quality. Vinyl siding covers the original wood, aluminum panning covers most of the historic trim, and aluminum shutters flank some windows. The chamfered porch columns with bold capitals and tall bases were replaced by simple square posts with skimpy bases and caps. New porch steps are inappropriate in design and material. The metal roof is compatible with historic roofing in the area, but there are more appropriate options for snow guards.

The point is not to shame the owners who made these choices but to illustrate the aesthetic and financial cost of the choices. Current online real estate value estimates show the top house worth $63,223 more than the other. Adjusting for the top house’s larger lot ($4,400 tax assessor’s difference), the estimated difference in value between the two is $58,823. That is value lost through the choices made.

It might also be an opportunity for a smart buyer to gain a lot of equity. “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners” covers everything needed to restore the less valuable house to match its twin again.

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our online shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

© Scott T. Hanson 2023

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