Check for These 5 Things First
The character, charm, and distinct personality of older homes are undeniable—and just a few of the reasons why many buyers can’t envision moving into new construction. In addition, older homes are frequently built-in good sites at lower prices than modern high rises. Buying an older house can be a great investment, particularly for first-time homebuyers, if you know what to look for before signing on the dotted line.
Keep an eye out for these five potential problem areas in older homes during the purchase process.
- Electrical and Plumbing Systems that are Old or Substandard
Many older homes still have their original knob-and-tube wiring and cast-iron pipes since rewiring and replacing plumbing are both costly and time-consuming operations. Both can be dangerous, as an outdated electrical system can cause a fire, while corroded pipes can lead to leaks and sluggish water flow.
Examine the wiring and pipes for age and inquire when they were last updated. If the original systems are still in place, request a quote to discover how much it would cost to replace them. If the sellers have replaced the electrical and plumbing, double-check that the new wiring and pipes are up to code to ensure that everything is working safely, effectively, and legally.
The natural breakdown of uranium in soil, water, and rock produce radon, a carcinogen. When this occurs in nature, it quickly fades and no longer constitutes a threat. However, radon becomes deadly to humans if it becomes confined within a dwelling. Because many homes built before the 1970s were not built with this in mind, they are more susceptible to radon buildup.
Before buying an older house, you should get a radon test done. Fortunately, radon testing is easy to do and inexpensive. To determine the level of radon in your home, use an Accu-Star certified radon test. There are various EPA-approved methods to lower radon levels if they are high.
- Hazardous materials
Hazardous materials, such as lead and asbestos, are more likely to be found in older dwellings. Up until 1978, lead was widely utilized in exterior and interior paint and plumbing systems developed before the mid-1980s. Lead can leach into the environment and the water supply, posing serious health risks. Until the 1970s, when officials became aware of the health concerns, asbestos was also used in gas fireplaces, insulation, roofing, and wallboard patching compounds.
If you’re thinking about buying a property built before 1978, be aware that it’s likely to contain these hazardous elements. Before making a purchase, look into lead paint removal services and expenses for removing popcorn ceilings and other potentially asbestos-containing materials.
- Foundation or Structural Concerns
Even the most solidly constructed homes can develop fractures and unevenness in the foundation slab over time. Corrosion, dry rot, moisture damage, and other problems can result. Check for jammed doors and windows, apparent wall cracks, cracked tile, and uneven flooring when inspecting an older property, as these are all symptoms of foundation problems.
Depending on the degree of the structural faults, foundation repairs might cost upwards of $10,000, and homeowners insurance will not cover these costs. If a home has foundation concerns but you still want to buy it, think about negotiating the repair expenses into the purchase price or budgeting for the additional repair expenditures.
- Dysfunctional Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are needed on every floor of a home in several states. However, even if a home has both, they may be obsolete or inoperable. Because smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors aren’t always a top priority when house buying, it’s easy to forget to check for them and make sure they’re in working order.
Examine your home’s alarms and detectors, and consider updating to a newer, smarter version that connects to your phone via an app, allowing you to monitor your home’s security from anywhere. For maximum protection, install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and a smoke alarm in each room.
Home Inspection Tips:
Don’t agree to buy a house—especially an older one—until you’ve had a professional home inspection, which is a usual contingency in a selling contract. If a severe or dangerous fault is identified in the home, this contingency should allow you to opt out of the contract or negotiate repairs. Other specialty examinations, such as a termite inspection or a roof review, may be considered in addition to a basic home inspection.
If the inspector finds major flaws or repairs are required, you can renegotiate the purchase price, ask the seller to make the repairs, or terminate the contract. Remember that a home inspection is intended to secure you and ensure that you are aware of any potential safety issues associated with a property before you purchase it.
Getting a home inspection before signing on the dotted line at closing is more important than ever. You don’t want to buy an older home just to discover that it has serious issues that prevent you from reselling it someday.
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