Some Insights About Joliet's 1850 To 1930 Circa Homes
Prepared by Steven Boyd, Certified Master Inspector, Home Inspection Company of Illinois
With the home inventory shortage, investors/restorers have a profitable interest in bringing older Joliet homes into appealing purchases. Your clients looking at these older homes will be impressed with the great curb appeal, new windows, fresh interiors, new appliances and updated major systems. However, in most homes built before 1930, the tour of the basement will be a sober moment. Restorers rarely fix up an old basement. With the low ceiling and uneven floor, it has no value as living space. Its purpose has not changed since the home was built. Also, your client can be confronted with different methods of construction that are either no longer used or modified which may cause concern. Timber beams and posts were used instead of steel beams and columns. The properly dried quality wood used was expected to last as long as steel. Horizontal checks and cracks are normal and rarely affect the present/future strength. The issue with steel has been the possibility of rusting. With wood, the concern is termites or fungi affecting strength. Joliet was known as ‘the city of stone’ because our local quarries produced a high quality of stone that was used for many commercial structures and canals in the 1800’s. This provided local residential builders access to this stone which many stonemasons used to build waterproof basement foundations for our local homes. With the design built like a boat’s hull, no sump pump was needed. There may be a 12x12 foot area of the basement encased or with one wall torn down for more storage. What was that? Just as in present day Bermuda, Joliet collected water from the roofs to an area called a cistern. The water from the cistern was used for washing clothes and flushing toilets. The basement in older homes, though ugly, will provide a strong foundation for your clients and future owners. Maintenance is different but not any more costly than a modern basement.