Looking to Buy an Old Home? Here Are 5 Important Things You Should Ask

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Are you looking to buy an old home? Many people are wanting to move into an older home due to the character and design of these homes.

There is no shortage of old homes in the United States. According to collected data, at least 13.5 percent of all households were built before the 1940s, while 19 percent before the 1950s. Some cities have older homes than others –Sommerville, Massachusetts, and Buffalo, New York, have more than two-thirds homes older than 75 years.

New York City alone has more than 1.4 million residential units that have been standing since 1939 or earlier. When you go shopping for an older home, you have so many choices. But there are a few things to consider before you buy an old home :

An old home

The Age of the Plumbing

Water lines can wreak havoc if they break and go unnoticed. Besides mold and water stains, water can affect the structural integrity of your home. Over the decades, the water lines rust and are more prone to breaking.

When you are buying an older house, the biggest chances are the house has cast iron pipes. Cast iron drain pipes are strong, but it gets rust over time. So blocked cast iron drain pipes are a very common case with older homes. Professional plumbers can repair a cast iron drain pipe without tearing up your property. 

If you decide to buy an old home, ask if the old plumbing is still operational, and consider the cost of replacing the plumbing before buying the house. If the area you wish to buy experiences cold winters, even copper and steel pipes will be damaged from several decades of use. Replacing plumbing from an older home can be time-consuming and costly and you have to be prepared to pay for the cost.

Old plumbing often found when you buy an old home.

The Integrity of the Electrical Wiring

When you buy an old home, the electrical wiring may be loose and dangerous, or it may not be up to the code. These issues increase the risk of an electrical fire and it is not something you want to gamble with.

While your home inspector will check the electrical systems, it is still advisable that you get an electrician to check the wiring. If the wiring needs replacement, not that it could cost you thousands of dollars – consider that when negotiating the price.

If you hire a real estate agent to negotiate for you, show them the electrician’s report to make the negotiations swift. Hiring a good real estate agent will also help to ensure that you get the most out of the house buying process.

Look for an agent in the location you are hoping to buy in. For example, if you live in the Potomac area you would want to search for a Potomac real estate agent. Let your agent know about any issues during the inspection and they can help negotiate with the seller.

An old fuse box

The Condition of the Roof

The roof protects your house from damages from the wind and water. Roofs can last for up to five decades depending on the material, but if there is a leakage on the roof, the damage could have extended to other parts of the house.

If you want to buy an old home that is at least 30 years old, check the condition of the roof. If the house still has its original roof, consider the cost of replacement before you buy the home. Some roofs might still be in good condition even after 30 years, but you have to work with a roofer to understand the condition of the roof.

An older roof

The Energy-Efficiency of the House

If you buy an old home has lots of windows, it means you will get enough light during the day. However, with poor insulation, the house can cost you a lot of money on air conditioning and heating.

Before you buy an old home, check how well the home is insulated and ask the seller their monthly utility bills. This way, you do not end up spending thousands every month to warm or cool a home.

You also need to check the condition of the heating and cooling systems. Old HVAC systems are less energy-efficient and their performance may not be impressive. An HVAC system can last for up to 20 years depending on the location of the home. If the system is already more than 15 years old, consider the cost of replacement.

An old furnace

The Structural Integrity of the Foundation

Often when you buy an old home it will have issues with the foundation. When inspecting a home, check that the foundation doesn’t have any signs of cracks and doesn’t have any molds.

Mold can be a sign of weak foundation while cracks show that the foundation might have shifted. Do not consider repairing the cracks or the foundation. If the home has cracks in the foundation, it is best to move to the next available building.

An old, cracked foundation

Final Thoughts for When You Buy an Old Home

When you buy an old home it comes with character and charm, and they cost less than new homes. However, if you are not careful and check all the issues that might crop up after you buy the home, you might end up with a house more costly than buying a new home. As such, take your time and go over every part of the home from the foundation to insulation and everything else in between.

You should be asking these 5 important questions when you wish to buy an old home!

About the author

I'm a mama to four and grandma to six. Yankee born with a love of the south. I love old-fashioned ways with modern thinking. I'm a homesteader, gardener, blogger. I enjoy “from scratch” cooking, consider myself a crafty do-it-yourselfer, and animal rescuer.

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