Six Things to Watch out for When Buying an Old House

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We love old homes. We love the charm and the character they bring. Those long hallways, large cupboards, and exposed bricks in the kitchen get to us. If you’re eyeing to buy an old home, hold your horses. Buying an old home isn’t like making an offer for a new one. With a new home, you know what to expect—the smell of fresh paint and non-creaky wooden floorboards. But with an old home, things are a bit different.

For one, you have to check the euro cylinder locks if they are still working. You don’t want to dive into investing in a new property with faulty locks. If there’s one thing you need to assure when purchasing a property, it is the security of your family. Whether that security pertains to the neighborhood or the actual features of the home, it is your responsibility to make sure that you and your family are safe and sound.

With old homes, you have to call a house inspector. The inspection will brandish a report about the house’s foundational structure, electrical wiring, plumbing, presence of toxic substances and materials, and many others. Some buyers make the mistake of never asking for a home inspection report. And while you may get the property cheap, it may not be ready for occupation without major home renovations. At the end of the day, you spent more than what you thought you saved.


Structural issues are normal in old homes because of wear and tear or natural calamities such as seismic activities and flooding due to storm. These problems can range anywhere from settlement cracks to damaged support footings, which are expensive. Some of the things you have to watch out for are interior and exterior wall cracks, doors that won’t close, uneven flooring, and gaps in windows.


Take a look at the condition of the roof before making an offer. People don’t often remember to check the roof only to find out the damaged shillings later. Roof repairs and replacement can cost as much as $8,000. Roof problems are common even in newer homes. You need to make sure that it doesn’t have missing shingles and the gutters are structurally sound. You also need to inspect the ceiling of the top floor or attic for signs of leaks and moisture.

scrubbing the walls

Hazardous Building Materials

Many homes built before the 1970s contain asbestos and lead-based paint. You cannot see these with your naked eye, but it should come up in a home inspection report. The presence of lead paint and asbestos could be life-threatening. Asbestos, for example, can cause respiratory problems that may lead to lung cancer. You have to hire a professional to remove these materials from your home.

How will you know that a home has asbestos and lead paint? Check the year the home was built. The presence of crumbling drywall and cracked paint are also signs of asbestos and lead paint.

Toxic Gases

Radon and carbon monoxide affect the quality of indoor air. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil surrounding your home. Though it is non-toxic, it can cause lung cancer over time. Carbon monoxide is scary, too, because it can lead to a range of symptoms such as shortness of breath and dizziness. It comes from leaking gas from the stove and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.


If you are going to move into an old home, make sure to update its electrical system first. How old is the house? Electrical wiring needs updating after 70 years while the circuit breakers mostly only last for 30 years. You should also check the outlets. If they are still ungrounded or two-pronged, you have to update them to ground wiring. Other things you have to check are flickering or dimming lights, warm light switches or outlets, and frequent power outages. It is cheaper to rewire a home than suffer the consequences later.


Never forget to check the plumbing in the property. Plumbing problems are costly and messy. Check for leaks and clogs. Make sure that the roots of the trees surrounding the house have not broken into the plumbing system. Another thing you have to worry about when it comes to the plumbing system is the presence of lead in the polybutylene pipes. They can end up in your drinking water when the pipes decompose.

Don’t buy or move into an old home without checking for these things. It is better to worry about these things now than deal with structural and health problems later on. Prevention, even when buying a home, is better than repairs.

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