If you’ve ever watched more than a few hours of HGTV programming, you know that an old house is not necessarily a great choice.
People always look for older houses because they have “character”. They want character, that is until they find out there are structural or other issues.
It’s fine to buy an old house, but you need to be extra thorough with your inspection. Make sure you’re pulling out all the stops before you put in an offer and that you’re not maxing out your budget.
Leave some cash for issues you find after buying and you’ll be good to go. Don’t know what we’re talking about?
Here are three common issues we see when people buy old homes.
A long time ago we didn’t know what we know now about things like lead and asbestos. Kids used to use actual lead pencils and people got their water out of lead pipes.
Asbestos was used in all sorts of filter and insulation materials until the 1970s. We didn’t know until the 1980s (or so) that exposure to it causes serious lung cancer.
When you’re buying an old home, you may find that it’s mostly toxin free- except for in under-used areas like attics or crawl spaces. You need to get more information about the lead or asbestos level in a house before you buy it.
It’s for your family!
Older houses tend to have pipe issues. Metal is a strong material, but it’s not perfect and it corrodes over time.
And even if the metal in the pipes is in good shape, the ground around it can shift the pipe alignment.
Older homes may have trouble with draining water quickly or have more frequent toilet backups. Sometimes it takes a while for hot water to come on in older houses as well.
Part of your inspection should be done by a plumber, as replacing pipes is extremely expensive. You’d rather have that money come off the asking price, believe us.
When a house is built, it needs to be up to code. But it’s only up to code for the time it was built. Hence, old houses have outdated electrical systems that need replacing, probably about one-third of the time.
It’s not just about bringing the house up to code, though. It’s about preventing fires and electrical issues too.
Older wiring and old wiring types create more heat than modern systems. Pair that with old, dry wood and insulation, and you have yourself a house fire.
Should You Buy an Old House?
IF you have your heart set on an old house, you can still buy one. Just be very thorough when you do your inspection pre-signing.
You want to look at things like the type of materials in the home, plumbing, and electrical. If you find issues, take your offer down and tell the owners why, when you buy an old house.
Most sellers will understand. Ready to become sellers yourself? Add value without adding debt with these tips.