Older homes can have a lot of architectural character and unique style. If you’re house hunting, you’ve probably noticed older ones on the market that are significantly less expensive than any relatively new construction. But the lower listing price isn’t just because of some shag carpeting or outdated kitchen cabinets—it’s because these houses tend to come with the risk of problems that require expensive repairs. In this blog, we’ll share some of the issues we most commonly find when inspecting older homes.
Hazardous Building Materials
For the purposes of this blog post, “older homes” will refer to anything built pre-1978. Why? Well, this brings us to our first commonly discovered problem: hazardous building materials. 1978 is about the time when things like lead paint and asbestos were phased out of use in the U.S. When inspecting older homes, we may find asbestos in the insulation. And while lead paint can be painted over, if it’s chipping or peeling, you’ll likely need to hire a professional to seal it.
Another major culprit in older homes? Anything electricity related. Potential problems include:
- Aluminum wiring – Single-strand aluminum wiring was installed a lot in the mid-1970s. It expands and contracts at different rates than copper, which can cause arcing, overheating, and potential fires as the metal connections loosen.
- Exposed wiring – This isn’t necessarily exclusive to older homes; it may just be the dangerous result of unprofessional work.
- Two-prong outlets – These are ungrounded outlets. Grounding outlets is important for safety because if there’s an excess of electricity through a surge, it will discharge the electricity to the ground rather than the appliance or a person.
- Missing GFCIs – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, are required in any areas where water sources are present, like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outside. GFCI outlets and breakers automatically shut off electricity to a circuit if a surge is detected.
Foundation / Structural Issues
Even the most sturdily built homes aren’t immune to aging. And as any house ages, settlement naturally occurs. But excessive foundation settlement and other structural damage (most often caused by improper drainage allowing too much moisture in) can result in uneven floors, cracks in both interior and exterior walls, and inoperable doors and windows.
The wear and tear of a home may also be revealed by the roof’s condition. Leaks, missing shingles, and other types of roof damage are common in older homes. You may even come across a house with its original roof, which will undoubtedly need replacing.
When it comes to inspecting older homes, you can count on our team of experts here at Homeinex; we’ve been conducting home inspections in New England for more than three decades. Put your home-buying worries to rest—contact us to book your inspection.