What To Look For When You\’re Buying An Older Home

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Older homes are coveted for their enviable character but when buying an older home, you\’re buying the history that comes long with it – good and bad. Though older homes were built to last, time is almost never kind and a (sometimes) solid foundation can mask issues that will make or break a sale.

Should you stay or should you walk away? While most problems can be solved with some simple, or not so simple, renovation, you should still consider these following issues an omen.

Mold Of Any Kind Is Bad

Mold in a home can be hazardous to your health and your wallet. Most often you\’ll find mold in ceilings and walls caused by damage to the roof, or basements where moisture and water has been left to stand in situations where weeping tile is damaged or has not been installed.  Look for damp areas in the basement – trails of water in unfinished basements.

With a little elbow grease it\’s possible to remove mold and keep it from coming back, but in situations of extensive mold growth, your options are more limited. Since disturbing mold can be toxic, your best bet is to hire a professional crew with the right equipment to contain the problem and dispose of material accordingly. If you haven\’t factored mold removal into your budget, you should probably walk away.

An Older Roof Will Need Replacement

Today\’s roofs will need repair or to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. You can ask how old the roof is, or look for obvious signs of damage – roof tiles that are peeling or warped, or plaster walls that show evidence of staining and moisture.

Lead Paint May Or May Not Be  A Problem

Dangerous for both adults and children alike, if your home was built in the early half of the 20th century, there\’s a good chance the builders used lead paint. Though most lead paint will be found around windows, doors, trim and on painted floor, it\’s difficult to actually detect. If you fear lead paint in the home, you can purchase a lead paint detection kit, your better off bringing in a certified lead inspector to give the house a through once over.

A Shaky Foundation

Creaks and groans are normal in older homes, as over time materials are subject to settling under their own weight. If doorways seem uneven or you find cracks on interior walls especially above doors and windows, and the ceiling, you may have cause for concern. Outside, if you notice a bulge or curve in either a block foundation or a poured concrete wall, this could be a sign that the foundation has shifted, or that the soil around your foundation may be shifting, putting pressure on walls. If your house features a basement or crawlspace, look for posts or concrete supports or piers that stand straight and are firmly planted underneath the beams they support. A shaky or weak foundation can be serious, and lead to pricey repairs down the road.

Asbestos Can Be A Pain

Many older homes still feature asbestos insulation in their attics and other areas. While it\’s not necessary to remove, just note that asbestos is highly toxic if disturbed. Because of this, hiring professionals who have the right equipment and proper disposal techniques is recommended, but this can ultimately be pretty pricey.

What\’s Going On With The Windows

Everyone loves an older home for it\’s character, and retaining original windows tends to keep that character intact. But most older windows are single pain and terribly inefficient. Often, they leak, and the materials are rotting. Assess their state and see if they can be salvaged, or if it\’s possible to attach storm windows over top  to help maintain the integrity of the original window going forward.

Buyers adore older homes for their story, but that covetable charm can hide a host of problems that commonly plague older structures. A thorough home inspection should shed light on any and all of these problems, but forewarned is fore-armed. Doing your due diligence means you\’ll never be blindsided by the unexpected expense of necessary renovations you didn\’t see coming.

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