Living in an old home is like reading an old book. When you walk through an old home you can’t help but notice that there is history right within the walls. Small differences, like low height of the doorknobs, take you back in time to when we were a different society with different needs and expectations. Just like old books, however, old homes sometimes require extra care to keep in good condition. Don’t get me wrong–when people boast that their old home has “strong bones” they could certainly be right. But there are some things you might have to cope with living in an old home that aren’t a huge concern in a new one. If you’re thinking about purchasing an old home, read this list of things you should be aware of before you buy. It isn’t meant to deter, just to inform so that you’re ready for the challenges you’ll face when that day comes. And, if you truly love the experience of living in an old house, the work will be well worth it.
Old doesn’t mean decrepitLet’s go back to our book analogy from earlier. If you have a book from the late 1800s that has been stored in a dry place, hasn’t been thrown around much, and always had conscientious owners who respected it enough to repair the binding when needed, your book will be in great shape. The same is true for old homes. Oftentimes, it only takes a quick glance around the home and a peek at the foundation to see if the home has been taken care of. Just because a house was built in the 1800s doesn’t mean it hasn’t been renovated periodically and maintained properly.
Warning signsIf you are thinking of buying an old home, here are some things you should look out for before you sign the dotted line. Don’t forget to have the home inspected by a professional as well, since they will give you a much more detailed analysis of the problems a home might have.
- Ancient HVAC. Aside from being prone to malfunctioning, old heating and ventilation systems could also prove to be dangerous and inefficient. Be sure to have a professional inspect the entire system.
- Pests big and small. Over the years homes begin to develop vulnerabilities to ants, termites and other pests. Similarly, don’t be surprised if you find mice, bats, or other furry creatures around if the home has been empty for a while.
- Hazardous materials. The builders of yore were excellent craftsmen, but they were using (unbeknownst to them) dangerous materials like lead and asbestos. If you have small children, even more of a reason to make sure the home is free of hazardous materials. Part of this check should also be for mold growth.
- Inefficiencies. Old windows and poor insulation walls also tend to be issues with some old homes. Find out what the monthly utility bills cost to see how much work you’ll need to do to bring them up to date.
- Foundation issues. Eventually, nature prevails. Foundation cracks and deterioration are common problems in old homes, especially in climates like the Northeast with freezing temperatures and lots of snow, rain, and wind.