How Old Are Victorian Houses?


victorian house

I love inspecting old Victorian-style houses. These beautiful homes are very sought after for their charm and character. Victorian homes are unique structures with distinct features.

How old are Victorian houses? During the reign of Queen Victoria, Victorian houses were constructed in England (and later in the United States) between the years of 1837 up to 1901. This makes Victorian houses very popular among people looking to purchase a home over 100 years old, both in England and the United States.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all Victorian-style homes were made in that period. A few of these homes were actually made at a much later date. Even some new construction homes today have Victorian-inspired features.

Anyways, if you are reading this article, chances that you are looking to purchase one of these houses. Victorian houses are quite expensive, and because of their age, a thorough home inspection is an important consideration for anybody looking to acquire one. If you would like to know more about Victorian homes, please check below!

What Makes A House A Victorian House?

So while some folks can identify a victorian house when they first see them, it’s important to actually define the term to really know what the Victorian style actually means. 

Victorian architecture refers to a set of architectural styles that draw inspiration from the Victorian era’s structures from 1837 to 1901.

Victorian refers to the fact that Queen Victoria reigned during that period in England, and English architects have always named periods according to the king or queen reigning at the time (Victorian, Georgian, Edwardian, etc..)

But not all houses were built in that period, though. A few Victorian-style homes built after 1901 are labeled as such simply because they feature the classic aesthetic associated with those older homes, and people call them Victorian just because of that. 

Also, there is a small group of niche architects making modern Victorian-style homes. These are also labeled as Victorian-style homes.

Anyways, when it comes to the most distinguishing features of a Victorian home, the first one we must point out the castle or manor-like outside styling of these properties. Architects often used cones, bells, and triangles on the homes’ roofs, giving off that classic vibe associated with those types of structures. 

Because of the limited space available, Victorian homes are narrower than the average home but quite taller. 

The entrance of a Victorian home is usually quite flashy and intricate. Usually, there is one set of stairs (2 for bigger homes) with a porch before actually getting to the door.

Houses of these types tend to be quite asymmetrical, which you will notice as soon as you see one with your own eyes.

Since most Victorian houses are either 2 or 3 stories high, architects from that period focused a lot on making a very elegant stairway that tends to be located near the entrance. This stairway is usually decorated with beautiful wood that matches the rest of the home. 

Another defining characteristic of Victorian-style homes is the furniture used. Just as there are Victorian homes, Victorian furniture and craftsmanship associated with these definitely compliment the houses very well. 

Expect to see a very intricate sideboard (which is usually made of wood that features several cabinets and drawers) near either the living or dining room. The wood used on the furniture is usually mahogany or rosewood.

The furniture used resembles a very expressive gothic style, with baroque and Tudor style furniture being prevalent.

How To Identify A Victorian Home

Since Victorian-style homes can be a little bit different and hard to identify for some folks, I decided to identify a few main features most of them have so that you can have a solid idea of what constitutes a victorian style home and what doesn’t. Anyway, here are the main features:

1. Asymmetry

One of the main ways of knowing if a house is Victorian is if it features very asymmetric shapes. This is something that you will notice pretty much everywhere, both outside and inside the home, and it’s something that I personally love about these types of homes.

They are asymmetric without being garish, and they are a great choice for anybody looking for a very expressive and imposing home. When it comes to the shapes, expect to see rectangular or circled windows, a triangle-shaped roof, and one or two oval-shaped towers that serve as a small studio on the top stories.

2. Steep Roofs

One of the most defining characteristics of these homes is the very steep, pointed roofs, typically accompanied by one or two tower-like structures, as I said above. Many of the roofs were covered in slate or terracotta roof tiles.

In fact, Victorian-style houses can sometimes resemble a medieval castle at times. Since the ceilings tend to be so prominent and visible, they tend to be painted in a color that contrasts with the walls, giving a very distinguishable touch.

3. Stained Glass

Another way to identify a Victorian-style home is by checking out the windows. They tend to feature stained glass, especially if the Victorian home is of the gothic substyle.

Not only is stained glass more beautiful and intricate than normal glass, but it also tends to hide dirt very well. Not all Victorian houses will have stained glass, though—some features just the normal kind.

4. Two to Three Stories

Out of all the Victorian houses that I have inspected in the past, they have had at least 2 stories. As I said above, Victorian homes can be a little bit narrow, but they more than make up for that by giving you more space at the top.

On the first floor, you will find the dining room, kitchen, and obviously the stairway to go up, among other rooms.

The second story is usually reserved for the bedrooms, which can be more than 4 on bigger houses.

And the 3rd story is usually reserved for a small studio with a desk, and sometimes another bedroom. They also tend to feature a basement.

5. Terraces

Most proper Victorian homes will not have a garage because obviously, cars didn’t exist in the 19th century. The kitchens were constructed on the rear of the house for easy access to garden areas due to limited space in urban areas.

6. Fireplace in Every Room

With no other heating source, Victorian homes were built with fireplaces in all rooms. Many of these fireplaces now are inoperative or have been sealed up. However, many are still available and have been retrofitted with gas fireplace inserts.

How Costly Is The Average Victorian-Style Home?

One of the concerns that people have about these types of homes is how costly they can be, both initially purchasing and the maintenance costs down the road. And the truth is that they generally tend to be on the more expensive end, especially when it comes to maintenance down the road. 

If you are looking at a true Victorian style house made in the early 1900s, then not only are they quite costly to acquire, but they also will be costly to maintain properly. These homes’ plasterwork tends to be stained, which will cost you a pretty penny to whiten up.

The wood needs to be properly taken off, and if the home still has a fireplace and you want to use it, you will have to make the proper security arrangements to make sure the rest of the house isn’t at risk. 

Also, heat insulation tends to be a pain in these homes, and properly insulating one can be very costly. So if you are buying a Victorian-style home, keep in mind that they can get freezing in the winter! 

Final Thoughts on Victorian Houses

Victorian-style homes tend to be one of the most beautiful homes available, and it’s amazing given how old they actually are. Most proper Victorian homes are between 100 and 180 years old, and given how beautiful they are, it’s no wonder why they are so expensive.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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