New Home, Old Problems: 8 Common Maintenance Issues to Watch out for When Buying an Older Home
Are you tempted by the prospect of buying an older home instead of a cookie-cutter model in a new subdivision? You’re not alone. Many people would prefer living in a house with some character and history.
Unfortunately, buying an old house comes with a number of risks. Even though it may seem new to you, it may have old problems.
But don’t let this stop you from moving forward with your dream. As long as you know what to look out for, you can avoid headaches down the road.
To help you out, we’re going over eight common issues many old houses have.
1. Electrical Issues
Back in the day, construction codes for homes we’re different. In addition, materials such as wiring and sockets weren’t manufactured to the same standards they are today.
This means many older houses have subpar electrical systems. This could involve something minor or a serious issue that could cause safety hazards.
Tube and knot wiring was common decades ago. If a home still has these cables, you’re probably dealing with exposed wires. You’ll need to check for this, as tube and knot wiring can lead to fire or electrocution.
An old home may contain an insufficient number of wall sockets. This is a recipe for a major inconvenience in today’s digital world.
2. Outdated Plumbing
Minor plumbing problems may not seem like a big deal when you first look at a house. However, it’s important to consider how these issues will affect your day-to-day life.
In addition, minor issues like low water pressure, a dripping faucet, or corrosion can lead to a major catastrophe. More specifically, a flooded home.
The type of pipes an old home has should also concern you. Many older structures contain polybutylene pipes, which wear out quicker than brass or copper.
You also need to check the condition of the water heater. An outdated model may need repairs or a full replacement. If you’re unsure, find out more about what to look out for.
3. A Bad Foundation
Without regular maintenance and upkeep, an aging home can develop foundation problems. This is sometimes hard to avoid, as it’s often the result of the ground underneath a home.
Foundation repair is extremely expensive, so you’ll need to make sure you perform a thorough inspection before considering buying.
Telltale signs of foundation issues include cracks in exterior walkways, cracks in interior walls, sagging floors, and even water damage. You may also notice that doors inside the home stick when opening and shutting.
If your dream home ends up having a bad foundation, consider negotiating with the seller for a lower price to offset the cost of repairs.
4. The Presence of Lead Paint
If you’re considering buying a home built prior to the late 1970s, it’s imperative you check for lead paint. This is a serious concern, especially if you have young children.
Lead poisoning causes a number of health issues in children, including weight loss, developmental problems, and seizures. It can also negatively affect adults.
Homeowners have a legal obligation to disclose whether the house contains lead paint. If they seem unsure, you need to have an inspection performed.
If a home has lead paint, it’s not good enough to apply a new coat of paint over the walls. You’ll need to have it removed and disposed of before you move in.
5. A Roof in Disrepair
The roof is one of the most important components of a home. It protects the interior from the elements and has a lot to do with temperature control.
If the previous owners of an old house didn’t keep up with roof repair and replacement, there’s a good chance it’s in bad shape. You’ll need to do some investigating to discover if you’re dealing with a major problem.
One of the most common signs of a bad roof is water damage. If water is getting into through the roof, you’ll notice staining along the ceiling and walls.
You should also inspect the roof from the outside. Look for missing shingles, sagging, mold, or damaged gutters.
Any time moisture lingers in a given space, mold can start to form. This is more common in older homes because they contain cracks and are often poorly insulated.
Certain types of mold can cause allergies and health issues, so you’ll want to ensure the home you’re looking at is mold-free. Unfortunately, mold can hide behind walls and in basements and crawl spaces. This can make it impossible to spot.
If you smell mildew, this is a red flag. Even if you don’t see anything, you need to have a mold inspection performed.
7. Poor Energy Efficiency
Energy standards weren’t considered when older homes were built. If previous owners didn’t take measures to improve the energy efficiency of a house, it may take a lot of work to improve things.
Older windows allow air to enter and escape, which puts a burden on the HVAC system. In addition, old homes tend to have inadequate insulation or none at all. Both of these factors lead to higher energy bills and an uncomfortable home.
If you’re considering buying a house but feel it’s not energy efficient, have an energy audit performed. This will tell you exactly what improvements you’ll need to make.
We discussed lead paint as a potentially hazardous material in older homes. Another common one is radon.
This is a natural gas that forms when uranium in soil, bedrock, and water breaks down. When radon occurs out in the open, it’s not a threat. However, if it gets trapped under a house, it can start to enter through pipes and the foundation.
Once radon enters a home, it can continue to circulate if there’s poor ventilation. Some older homes have taken on radon exposure for years.
Make sure you have a radon test performed if you’re considering buying an old house.
Make Buying An Older Home a Possibility
Old houses are bound to have issues, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider buying one. As long as you understand what to look for, you can enjoy the style and charm of a classic house.
Remember the issues discussed above when buying an older home and make sure you have all your bases covered.
Check out more articles for additional home improvement and real estate tips.