Older Homes

Professional Real Estate Inspection Services

Older Homes Take More Time to Inspect and Require a Deeper & Longer Look.

Buying an old home may allow you to live in a stylish, affordable piece of history. Unfortunately, it can also bring with it a lot of issues that you may not be prepared for. What seems like a great deal at first may ultimately cost way more than you bargained for.

As a general rule of thumb, homes built after 1990 are considered newer, and homes built before 1920 are considered “old” or “antique.”

 

Older Homes will Require More Time to Inspect and with More Time Comes Additional Fees.

There are problems to look for when buying an old house that you should be cognizant of, Remember You Don't want Anything Missed in an Older Home.

 

Older Homes
Oil-fill-pipes
Octopus-furnace (Gravity)
leaky pipes
knob and tube wiring
Older house with crawl space
Old-house-problems
1920s bathtub trap
galvanized pipes
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Earler Receptacle Styles
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Older Homes
Older Homes
Oil-fill-pipes
Oil-fill-pipes
Octopus-furnace (Gravity)
Octopus-furnace (Gravity)
leaky pipes
leaky pipes
knob and tube wiring
knob and tube wiring
Older house with crawl space
Older house with crawl space
Old-house-problems
Old-house-problems
1920s bathtub trap
1920s bathtub trap
galvanized pipes
galvanized pipes
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Historic Properties
Earler Receptacle Styles
Earler Receptacle Styles
previous arrow
next arrow

Older Home Inspections

Problems to Look For When Buying an Old House

Buying an old home may allow you to live in a stylish, affordable piece of history. Unfortunately, it can also bring with it a lot of issues that you may not be prepared for. What seems like a great deal at first may ultimately cost way more than you bargained for.

 

1. Asbestos

Asbestos makes an incredibly useful flame retardant, which is part of why it was so commonly used in older buildings. Unfortunately, when airborne, the barbed fibers can be inhaled and lodge in the lining of the lungs, eventually leading to a deadly form of cancer. The EPA finally banned the use of asbestos in building materials, but not until 1989.

Many older homes have had the asbestos removed and replaced with something safer, but some have not. You obviously want to know if the home you are interested in still has asbestos. If it does, you will need to consider the costs of removal, which can be pricey.

While a good home inspector can point out what looks to be asbestos, you cannot tell for sure unless it is tested. Much of the asbestos found in homes was on wrapping found on pipes in the basement and used as insulation.

There is, however, another area where asbestos can be quite common in older homes and that is the flooring. What you may think looks like dull linoleum could, in fact, harbor asbestos.

 

2. Lead Paint

While lead paint is #2 here in my list, it is the #1 problem you should be addressing when buying an older home. If you have a child under the age of six living in the home, it is mandatory that the lead is removed. In fact, it is a federal law!

When lead is consumed by people, it can cause significant health problems, particularly in growing children. Homes built before 1978 could have lead paint, which is why property owners are required to disclose the possible existence of lead paint to renters or buyers. You can paint over the old paint, but the dangerous lead paint will still be there underneath.

 

3. Problems Found With The Foundation & Sills.

The foundation on older homes can be cracked, leaning, sunken or otherwise damaged and in need of repair. Everything else in the house sits on the foundation, which is why foundation issues must be addressed for safety and to keep the home livable.

Of course, all foundation problems are not equal. A few settlement cracks may be normal and safe, but you need an inspector to tell you one way or the other. Foundation repair can be expensive, something to keep in mind when you consider the price of the home.

One of the issues that is even more prevalent in older homes is damage to the sill plate. Over an extended period of time the sills in a home can become susceptible to water, insects and other external elements. The entire building rests on the sill plate which in turn sits on the foundation. With older homes having sill plate problems is not uncommon at all.

Checking the sills carefully is something that should be done by a qualified inspector. The sills can be fixed if they are damaged but often it requires jacking up the home which can cause damage to walls such as cracking if not done very carefully. Sill problems are not uncommon when buying an antique.

 

4. Electrical Problems

The electrical systems in old homes were not designed to keep up with modern usage. Computers, mobile devices, televisions, HVAC systems, appliances, dishwashers, washer/dryers – we use a lot of electricity, far more than people did fifty or more years ago.

If your lifestyle includes the use of a variety of electronics, you want to make sure that the home you are buying will work for your needs.

One of the more common problems to look for when it comes to an older home is knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring was prevalent from the 1890’s to 1930’s. It became far less used right around 1950. This type of wiring consisted of single-insulated copper conductors run within the walls or ceilings, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes.

They were supported on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators. Where conductors entered a wiring device such as a lamp or switch, or were pulled into a wall, they were protected by flexible cloth insulating sleeves called loom. The first insulation was asphalt-saturated cotton cloth, then rubber became common.

As a home buyer what you need to understand is that knob and tube systems lack the capacity to handle the level of power usage in today’s modern homes.  One of the big problems with knob & tube wiring is that homeowners often abused the system by replacing blown fuses with fuses rated for higher currents. By doing so the wiring was subject to higher levels of current that risked heat damage or fire.

Another problem with knob and tube wiring was the prevalence to be damaged by home renovations. Its cloth and rubber insulation dried out and turned brittle fairly easily. Additionally, it could also be damaged by rodents chewing on the wiring.

The biggest problem, however, with knob and tube wiring is the ability to get homeowners insurance. A large percentage of insurance companies will not write insurance on homes with knob and tube. Many companies will insist the knob and tube wiring is replaced or that an electrician certifies that the wiring is in good condition.

Additionally there are many lenders who will not give a mortgage to a borrower who is purchasing a home with knob and tube wiring.

 

5. Ungrounded Outlets

Look around the home at the electrical outlets. Do they have three holes, or only two? If they only have two, you are not going to be able to use any devices that require grounding in the outlet – like your computer or your nice new flat screen television. While cheap adapters exist, they are not safe for long-term use, which means you will need to have an electrician fix the problem eventually.

 

6. Insurance Costs

If you do have old electrical or plumbing systems in your house, you may find it difficult or expensive to get homeowners insurance. Many policies won’t cover damage caused by old, worn out systems. To get the insurance you may have to update your home extensively, which will cost a considerable amount of money.

 

7. Energy Efficiency

Older homes were not built with energy efficiency in mind. Many do not have any insulation, or the insulation that they do have is old and ineffective.

The windows are often single-pane. To get the most out of any heating or air conditioning, you are going to need to update both the insulation and the windows in an older home.

 

8. Insects and Pests

An old home usually has unwanted guests that stick around long after the old owner has moved on. Insects, rats, mice – older homes are ideal homes for pests that you probably don’t want to live with. Some of them can be inconvenient, while others can be health hazards.

If termites are an issue, you may find that certain areas of the home are in worse repair than you initially realized. An inspector can tell you more about the particular home you are looking at, but don’t be surprised if he or she finds quite a few pest problems.