Buying an older home often means buying a quality built home. There’s something to be said about the workmanship and sturdiness of the homes built many years ago. Along with the quality, though, often comes problems. Before you sign on the dotted line, take a close look at the following factors. They can help you determine if a home is a good buy or a money pit.
Leaks and Other Problems
Leaking pipes or a leaking roof isn’t the only problem you should look for in an older home. In reality, you should look for those problems even in a new home. However, a home that is 30 or more years older that has had leaking problems could have other problems as well.
Wet wood is an open invitation to termites. These insects can cause serious damage to a home. The National Pest Management Association states that termites cost $5 billion in damage each year! While the damage might not be that extensive on the home you look at, it’s worth knowing the cost.
If the pipes or roof leaks, there could be other issues in the home, including mold and mildew. This causes damages not only to the house, but to the health of those living in it. Mold likes to grow in dark, damp places. You’ll likely find it in the basement, attic, and crawl spaces, but it can literally pop up anywhere.
Asbestos and Lead
Today we have regulations against the use of asbestos and lead when building homes. However, those regulations did not exist 50 or 100 years ago. You’ll commonly find lead in the paint used both inside and outside the home. It often doesn’t become a problem until the paint starts chipping, but it’s not something you want to mess around with. It can cause lead poisoning in children and adults, which can be a life threatening illness.
Asbestos, as we found out many years later, is responsible for several types of cancers and respiratory issues. It’s commonly found in insulation in the attic, crawlspace, and basement.
Homes begin to settle over time. It usually takes many years before any issues start occurring, but in an older home, you may start to see the problems already. A cracked foundation is not a stable surface for a home. It often calls for complete remediation of the home. When you are buying a new home, chances are the last thing you are thinking about is tearing it down and starting again. Even if there aren’t cracks, the slab could have corrosion or settle unevenly, causing issues for the home.
Electrical and Plumbing Problems
It’s standard to make sure the electrical and plumbing work in a home before buying it. But, with older homes, you must consider the safety of the electrical and plumbing systems. If the original wiring and plumbing exist in the home, it could be very costly for you to replace it. Before you buy an older home, it pays to get quotes on replacing the plumbing or wiring so you know what you are getting into before buying the home. One can see it here and understand what needs to be done in case there is a plumbing emergency.
Many years ago, energy efficiency was not a top concern for homebuilders. If the home you look at still has its original windows and doors, chances are the home is not energy efficient. Take a close look at the windows and doors. Can you feel a draft? Ask about the average utility bills for the home. This will give you an idea of its efficiency.
The utility bills will also give you an idea of the heater’s efficiency. Again, if it’s rather old, it may not run nearly as efficient as today’s furnaces. An old furnace may cause even more danger than energy inefficiency. It can be a fire hazard!
If you need to replace the windows or heating system, it could be a costly expense after just moving into a home. Make sure to get quotes before signing on the dotted line. This way you know what you are getting yourself into when buying an older home.
Get a Home Inspection
The one piece of advice we can provide when looking at older homes is to get a home inspection. Make sure your purchase contract has an inspection contingency on it. No matter how well you look over the home, there will be things you miss.
A licensed inspector knows just what to look for and what needs to be done if something is wrong. Your inspector can be your guardian angel when it comes to purchasing an older home. While you might love the charm of the home, if it has serious structural issues or termite damage, no amount of charm will pay for the expenses of fixing the home.
Buying an older home usually comes with the notion that you will have to pay for many repairs, but you want to know how extensive they are. Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a good idea of the necessary repairs. Of course, if the damages are too extensive, no lender will give you a mortgage on the home. Unless you are paying cash, you wouldn’t be able to buy it anyways.
Make sure you take the necessary precautions when looking at older homes so that you can protect your investment!