Personal experience: Why you don’t need to chase an apartment in the old fund

Aрхитектура: 8 пристроек к дому, чтобы увеличить площадь

Yes, I sang old houses! Yes, I said that the apartment in the old house this is exactly what a person who is educated, sophisticated and who understands a lot about real luxury needs. I recalled Bulgakov and the Silver Age, admired the ancient masonry “for centuries” and called to feel the “special atmosphere” of houses built before the famous events of the seventeenth year. Now I will oppose buying an apartment in an old house. Why?

It’s about the budget. Today we do not choose between the houses “Patriarch” or Nirnzee (it is clear that if you have money, you need to take “Patriarch”). Today we are comparing mid-range apartments. If we have to choose between modest real estate, but in the very center, or, say, a new house on Vernadsky or Mosfilmovskaya, I am for the remake and against the old ones.

Atmosphere or stench
No, it hasn’t gone anywhere – and the masonry, and thick walls, and amazing facades – everything remains in place. And even the atmosphere! The atmosphere of old houses cannot be confused with anything, if only with smells. Do you feel the difference between smell and atmosphere? And between smells and stench? In old houses there is both, and the third, and this combination is for a real amateur.


Smells are the trouble of houses built before the war and before the revolution. Even if the entrance is completely settled, and all the apartments already belong to the wealthy bourgeois, there is almost always one owner “from the former” – those who despise their new neighbors, and in spite of the new tone do not want to live beautifully. Their apartments have not been renovated since the time of Ivan Kalita: they have preserved not only the atmosphere, but also the spirit – sometimes they live here with a hundred or two cats or at least two dogs. Smells of pollock boiled for cats, and the smell of those same cats, seep through inexpensive front doors. But the worst thing is that with his dull sense of smell, such a neighbor does not catch the smell of gas, if his pollock, boiling away, floods the Lysva stove …

In new elite houses, such a neighbor is a huge rarity, because the “fragments of Soviet power” do not buy expensive housing, they once got it and became expensive over time.

Impaired ventilation
If you do not smell anything on the stairs, you may not be happy – the smell will still find its way into your apartment. The smell of the neighbor’s food haunted me in the pre-revolutionary building on Znamenka, for example, where all the apartments were bought out by new bourgeois: there is not a single communal apartment, all apartments are decently renovated. It took a long time to figure it out, and it turned out that the Kyrgyz concierge cooked khychins in the storehouse in the evenings – their smell was in my bedroom on the third floor. Or now we are renting an apartment in the Nirnzee house: the house is beautifully built, but once a week I clearly smell of someone else’s food.

Nina Frolova

Why? This phenomenon has not been fully studied. According to my version, this happens because in old houses different, um, bad people disassemble the ventilation ducts.

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The destruction of the correct pre-revolutionary hood, which was designed by highly educated civil engineers, leads to the fact that air circulation throughout the structure is disrupted. Therefore, in your apartment, on which you have worked – put an air inlet and an exhaust hood, poured concrete on the floor and closed the ceiling – it will still smell in the bedroom, then in the living room, as if the wind rose has set itself the goal of making fun of you. The smell – it is like this: the correct outflow of air is disrupted – and that’s it, it will creep into any loophole. You cannot seal yourself dead.

Shall we get the house management to check the ventilation shafts? – This is done simply: the technician climbs onto the roof, takes a crowbar, throws it into the mine. And the crowbar is buried in someone’s refrigerator. BTI obliges the owner of the refrigerator to restore ventilation, but this solves the problem only for a while: you remove the refrigerator of the third floor from the ventilation mine, as the new owner of the fourth floor plans to repair and demolishes his ventilation mine as unnecessary. And then – an awl and a douche: a technician, a roof, a crowbar, a BTI …

Another scourge of old houses is leaks. Recently, a reader from Tverskaya wrote to me – she unexpectedly received a bill for 170,000 rubles from a neighbor. It turned out that the girl had been flooding the lower apartment for a long time, and the ceilings of the neighbor had rotted. And the girl’s gender, respectively. They looked for a leak for a long time (yes, in old houses, when it is not clear what kind of “pie” in the ceilings is, you cannot suddenly find a leak). When they found it, there was nothing to cover: they ruined the floors for themselves and their neighbors. And the girl turned out to be guilty, as it were, without guilt – these were the previous owners of her home that made repairs in the cheerful 90s. But the new owner answers – to pay the bills now to her.

Old risers are a bomb planted by old residents below or above you, and often both. It is impossible to guess where and at what moment it will explode. What exactly will flood in your old house – inlaid parquet, antique sofa or all together? What is the problem: you can play it safe. But our old houses are reluctant to insure. And if they do insure, then you get ears on the occasion of a dead donkey. Literally the other day, the chic stucco molding of my friend was filled with a neighbor. So, quite a respected insurance company “A *”, which regularly received insurance payments for 10 years, paid her 19,000 rubles.

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ANC concept

In a new house, you always know who is to blame for the leak: whether the builders who carelessly attached the bend to the riser or did not put the waterproofing; a neighbor who confused the bathroom floor with the Maldives. Usually this is an intelligible person with intelligible money: he can be restricted from traveling abroad, and a writ of execution can be obtained for him. And what will you take from a pensioner neighbor who has never traveled beyond Sochi?

Elena Ambrosimova

Himself BTI
Another common drawback of old houses is squatter construction. It would seem, why does the suddenly grown attic interfere with? Well, they make it quite noisy and for a long time – just be patient. But the load on the supporting structures and the foundation increases. And even if the papers say that Bolivar will take out five more floors of the superstructure, and not some attic, most likely they were obtained in a known way. Wait for cracks. Your personal repairs to the apartment below will be ruined.

In a new house, tenants receive a “box” and get settled in it, based on clear rules established by the HOA. You are not rebuilding, you are building. And, more importantly, no one is rearranging anything around you. A homogeneous social contingent is accustomed to accepting the conditions on which it moves into the house; it does not intend to fight or fence in the attic by the right of the strong and arrogant. The law of the arrogant in new houses does not work at all – everything is about the same there.

Difference in mentality
In new homes, psychos are rare, although this can happen in an elite house. At 6 Lesnaya Street (an expensive house, by the way), a neighbor howled at night, and raged during the day, because the ghosts of the oligarch Kogan stole icons from her at dawn. But she was not allowed to disperse much – everyone has their own levers. And in the old house it is he, the nutcase, who may turn out to be the main terrorist, and there will be no one to tame him.

This person has lived here the longest, and therefore imagines that he is in the law, and you come in large numbers. Bourgeois lifestyle, you say? Yes, he will smoke under your door, put sacks of stinking garbage next to it and, of course, decorate the stairs to his own taste – with three-liter cans for cigarette butts. And what to do with this character – call the police every time? Agree, this is not why you entered a beautiful house with facades and atmosphere.

In theory, the HOA can accept a set of rules prohibiting this and that, but if in a new building the rights are easily regulated not only at the HOA level, but also by the soul of the owners, then here your neighbors will be the first to refuse to comply with them – period.

Elena Ambrosimova

Parking around the old house is completely unregulated. Places, of course, have long been allocated, but distributed behind the scenes. If a parking space has been bought in a new house and no one can take your place, then in an old one someone will definitely secure this place for themselves. Behind the scenes. And he will puncture the tires of everyone who encroaches.

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The constant parking wars take on rather ugly forms. For example, they just poured a bucket with some caustic boiling stuff on our friend’s car – they weren’t too lazy, they boiled it! And the neighbor’s Gelendvagen blocks the common passage whenever she thinks that someone has taken her place. Despite the fact that she does not have any documents for a specific parking place: she appropriated it by the very right of the arrogant who works perfectly in the old housing stock.

Yuri Grishko

In my opinion, the problems of old houses lie not only in the field of architecture. They are a consequence of the heterogeneous contingent. A couple more generations should change so that in the old house, having opened the door to the stairs, you would not find a neighbor on a stool, shaving from the dashboard. Dear grandfather, about seventy years old, a former employee of the State Planning Commission. He did the wiring himself, the stump is clear, screwed up, he has no light in the apartment, and for the second day in a row he has been shaving off the dashboard. We greet each other sweetly in the morning. He is not a noisy neighbor, he does not drive companies. He just sits in a T-shirt and shaves. As in childhood in a communal apartment. In the new houses, the neighbors do not brush their teeth at the elevator, do not glue last year’s spaniels on the wall in public places, there are no burnt pollock and monthly leaks. There, everyone has a clear understanding of the norms of culture. Everyone has approximately the same idea of ​​what it means to live beautifully. And, what is important – they want to live like this equally strongly.

Yuri Grishko

You can replace the risers at your own expense, repair the entrance. Even the smell can be eliminated if you get involved in a war for the safety of ventilation ducts and replacement of ceilings. But it is possible to live beautifully in an old house only by becoming the very impudent tenant who, by force and administrative resource, dictates to the former the rules of conduct in his fiefdom. And this is a constant battle. Do you need it? Perhaps, in the new elite house there is no mysterious atmosphere of the past, but there are clear rules of coexistence, which is sometimes more important than the invisible traces of the departed aristocracy.

Personal experience: Renovation of my apartment on Patriarch’s

Interior: Planning and redevelopment | Small rooms | Rented apartment | Savings Issues | Storage of things | Secrets of the Pros | Portraits

About Leona Smith 115 Articles
Hello! My name is Silke and this is my travel blog. I want to show you fascinating places off the beaten track, give you a gentle introduction to history and culture, and help you get around Berlin. After 13 years in Sydney and Andalusia, I now live in Berlin, Germany. I am a travel writer, translator and book author. Read more about me here.

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