Older homes tend to have distinctive design features and small details that usually can’t be found in new properties today. You may, however, notice that older homes require more maintenance and might have outdated systems that need to be replaced. Here are some things to look for in an older home.
First and foremost, get a home inspection. This is an important first step toward buying your older dream home. Make sure you find out the age of your home and find an inspector who has experience with homes from that era. You may also consider bringing in a plumber and electrician. Your real estate agent can help guide you through this crucial step.
You can check out the property yourself. Keep an eye out for any of these issues that are common in older homes:
- Foundation & Structure: Look for cracks in the walls, floor tiles and foundation. Make sure that foundation is level. Sloping or sunken floors can give you problems down the road.
- Electrical System: If the home is over 40 years old, schedule an electrical inspection. Take a look at the fuse box or circuit breaker to see if it was updated. Check all the outlets in the home – are there GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms?
- Plumbing: Older pipes corrode over time and those will need to be replaced. Look at any exposed pipes for leakage or replacement.
- Heating System: Is the house heated with oil? Most older homes used oil predominantly. Oil tanks generally have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. It might be time to retire it. In addition, look for leaks which could be expensive and dangerous.
- Roof: No roof will last forever. It’s life expectancy depends on the quality of the materials used. Look at records to see when the roof was installed. Then check the roof for leaks or missing shingles.
- Windows: Do the windows stay open or fall back down? Do they lock properly? Check each window for drafts as well and make sure the glass and frames are in good condition.
Health and safety are key
Back in the day, many materials that are no longer considered safe were used in these homes. You’ll want to check for signs of lead paint, asbestos or lead in the water. Your real estate agent should also advise you to arrange a radon test before buying. Radon is an odorless gas that can be present in any home – old or new. It’s sometimes present in homes with crawl spaces with dirt or gravel floors, or homes with cracks in the foundation.
Your personality will dictate the style of home you like and want to live in. Finding the right property that you’re comfortable with is key. Yes, there may be many renovations to be made in an older home, but as long as you understand the potential risks and issues, have fun upgrading it.