What to Look Out for When Buying an Old House
While many people like having the newest of everything, other people love the charm of antique items, aged materials, and old houses. If you’re one of the latter types, and you’re considering buying an old house, it’s important to do your due diligence. While you should inspect every house before purchase, old homes require an even more thorough examination; they can often have issues related to their age. Here are a few common problems to look out for when buying an old home.
Roofs are built to last for decades. If you’re buying a new home, it’s not usually something you have to worry about for a long, long time. But if the house you’re considering is already a few decades old, then the roof needs a careful examination. The seller should be able to tell you the last time the roof was replaced, giving you a decent idea of how much longer it will last. But only a professional inspection can tell you if it’s in good condition or if you’ll have a pricey roof replacement on your hands when you move in.
It is an issue that’s truly unique to older homes. Homes built before 1978 often contained lead-based paint and asbestos. If you’re buying a home built before 1978, make sure that the inspector looks for both of these hazardous materials. They can’t be seen with the naked eye, so that some special testing may be required. Even when painted over, lead-based paint can be dangerous, so you need to remove it if this type of paint is present in the home. And if you need to do full-home remediation for asbestos, that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
If an old house has its original wiring, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to update it when you move in. Old wiring is made to last 70 years, but that doesn’t mean it’s up to handling the electrical demands of our technology-driven lifestyles. Additionally, you should update circuit breakers after 30 years, and old outlets are often ungrounded (2-prong) outlets that aren’t as safe as the modern, 3-prong ones. If the wiring is outdated or you notice 2-prong outlets in the home, you should plan for rewiring.
Finally, have the plumbing inspected, and ask if it’s the original plumbing in the home. Old pipes are often made of lead or polybutylene; the former is highly hazardous to your health, and the latter is prone to rusting and bursting. If the home has low water pressure, slow drainage, or any leaks, you may need to replace it entirely. A total repipe plumbing in Sacramento can cost anywhere from $3,000 to over $15,000.