15 things to known before you decide to buy an older home


If your like me I love the character and the interesting architecture of older homes. Each era has some unique styles that can definitely lure in a potential home buyer ,and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I myself have been intrigued and have admired friends or family who have made the jump in purchasing an older home. Different era's of homes have certain issue you should be aware of before making such a life changing decision. I would like to target these types of real estate buyers and give some helpful information to prepare you.


The list of items to be aware of before buying an older home.


  1. Asbestos in older homes is a potential.

  2. Lead paint in older homes is possible.

  3. Faulty or known electrical panels that are fire hazards or safety hazards.

  4. Aluminum single stranded wire could be in the home.

  5. Missing GFCI protection

  6. Missing AFCI devices

  7. Foundation issues

  8. Old HVAC systems

  9. No bath or laundry exhausts

  10. Low amounts of insulation

  11. Galvanized plumbing supplies

  12. Polybutylene pipe

  13. Ungrounded electrical receptacles

  14. Roof leaks

  15. Single pane windows


Electrical issues to expect in 1950's, 1960's and 1970's Homes


Lets start out with the electrical system. If you purchase a 1950's home and the electrical system has not been upgraded expect a long inspection list of defects provided in your home inspection report. One of the most expensive issues will be to upgrade to the service panel. The panels in the 1950's were the old fuse types and not meant to handle all the extras we power in a home. Electrical codes have changed a lot since the 1950's and homes have become safer as a result. Expect a lot of electrical system hazards with a older home.


Homes in the 1960's and 1970's may include aluminum wiring.


Home that are wired with single stranded aluminum wire more over time develop lose connections causing wires to overheat. Aluminum wiring has certain qualities that cause the lose connections. Aluminum wires expands and contracts much more than copper wire over time this creates a lose connections that can spark or arch inside the will which can raise the risk of a house fire. There are special connections made for aluminum wire which can be an option, but I always recommend consulting with an insurance company before purchasing a home with single stranded aluminum wiring. Insurance can be difficult to get and you may want to ask there recommendations as to how to repair so you can be insured. If they suggest re wiring than this may be something that needs to be negotiated due to the high expense to re wire a home. I also always recommend a licensed electrician evaluate the entire electrical system.


Many 1950's, 1960's and 1970's homes will be missing modern safety devices.


Many of these homes will be missing modern safety devices that protect you and your family. Unless the electrical system panel and branch circuits have been upgraded than it's pretty safe to say that the home will be missing GFCI ( Ground Fault circuit interrupters) safety devices in these older homes. Expect to found some two prong ungrounded receptacles in the 1950's and 1960's homes. Since AFCI's( Arc Fault Circuit interrupters) weren't required until 2002 than more than likely these won't be present.


Faulty service panels or known hazardous panels


Faulty improper wired or known service panels that are fire hazards. If your Houston home inspector finds a service panel that is a known fire hazard than it should be recommend that it be replaced . Faulty or improperly wired is also possible with any of these homes built in anyone of these era's


Asbestos could be present.


Homes that were built 1950's, 1960's and 1970's are have the potential to contain asbestos in some of there building materials. If buying a home in anyone of these areas it is highly recommend to have a certified asbestos inspector inspect the home for asbestos. Asbestos fibers can have serious health effects if inhaled. Asbestos should never be disturbed without the proper safety precautions.


Lead Paint


If the home your buying was built before 1978 than the higher chance there is of the home having it. The older it gets the higher percentage there is for the home to contain lead paint. The lead paint could be concealed under additional layers of paint. Take the necessary precautions when remodeling an older home.


Foundation Problems


Weather the home has a concrete slab or a pier and beam foundation an older home has a higher chance than a new home of having foundation issues. Sometimes you can tell the floors slope fairly easy. That's why I use a pression zip level to measure the foundation free of charge with the purchase of your general home inspection service. Don't get stuck with expensive foundation repairs no matter the type of foundation the home has. It's definitely a higher risk of foundation problems with older homes.


Old HVAC systems


HVAC systems have an expected average life span and it is 12 to 18 years according to most professional HVAC companies. Particular in the Houston area we work our a/c systems hard and it's very important for our comfort. An older system is likely to need more maintenance than a newer system. The system will be less efficient than a newer model. If the system uses R-22 refrigerant than at the beginning of 2020 R-22 becomes illegal and if you have refrigerant leaks than your stuck with upgrading the system or possible having to buy a new unit.


Missing exhaust fans


On average homes that are older are lacking exhaust fans at the bathrooms and laundry room areas. Although they may not be required at some bathrooms with an adequate window size. I always recommend them because lets be honest who actually opens there windows in Houston when temperatures are above 90 degree. Homes not having an exhaust fan can cause some moisture issues.


Low or missing insulation


It's very common to find either a very low amount of insulation or missing insulation in older homes. This condition will increase your homes cost to cool and heat the home.


Roofing materials are in poor condition.


The roofing materials may be at the end of there life span and have evidence of leaking in areas. Anytime time that moisture invades the structural of home there is always a potential for mold. Roofing material replacement is quite expensive. So knowing the condition of the roofing materials is a must so you can make an informed decision on buying an older property.


Galvanized plumbing supplies


If galvanized plumbing or Polybutylene plumbing is present at this point it has outlasted it's expected life span and needs to be replaced. Leaking plumbing is not a situation that's fun so it's very important to known what type of plumbing the older home may have.


Old windows


Unless the seller has updated the windows than it's pretty much a lock the home has single pane low efficient windows. Upgraded the windows will increase the energy efficiency of the home.


Conclusion


Buying an older home could cost you thousands of dollars to upgrade if it hasn't been done. There are many potential hazards that could exist also. So go into the transaction armed with a Houston area home inspector so you are informed of what type of hazards or expensive repair list that can come with buying an older home. the list of repairs go on for days. keep in made that with lead paint or asbestos a possibility testing and special remediating may be required to safely remove these types of items driving cost higher. At the end of the day it's your decision older homes tend to have some great character and charm. Like your older home inspected by an experienced professional home inspector see what I have to offer.