Things to Consider Before Buying an Old House

Old, gray house surrounded by treesNew homes are expensive, and older houses exude character. A home that has weathered the decades contains history within its walls – something a new house can’t hope to provide. But while an older home’s structure and interior may look sound, there are a few dealbreakers that could be hidden from plain sight. Before you pull the trigger, there are some dangerous and financial drawbacks to consider before buying an old house.

Outdated Utility Systems

The fact of the matter is most older homes’ utility systems were built with materials that are now deemed defunct. Below are two systems that you should ensure meet modern standards, as they could otherwise raise your insurance premiums.

Outdated Electrical System

Temperature fluctuations and normal wear and tear over the years can cause electrical wiring to become loose and lose its insulation. Moreover, outdated electrical systems may use fuses instead of circuit breakers and knob-and-tube wiring in place of modern insulation and junction boxes. According to Angie’s List, upgrading your electrical system can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 for an average-sized house. More importantly, the risk of electrical fires accompanies an outdated electrical system.

Outdated Plumbing

Even if a majority of the plumbing has been replaced in an older home, there are often elements of the original system that need replacing, such as a sewer line or water supply line. If the home’s plumbing is outfitted with polybutylene piping, you may be denied home insurance coverage. Polybutylene piping is too fragile to meet current public water supply standards and can result in flooding, and replacing plumbing is a serious cost to consider before investing in a home.

Hazardous Materials

Older houses were built with materials deemed acceptable at the time but are now found to be hazardous to our health. Furthermore, partly due to inexpensive heating costs years ago, older houses were not built as tightly and thus have poorer moisture control, leading to toxic exposure. The following are a few of the dangers a home inspector will be on the lookout for:

  • Asbestos: If the home was built before 1980, there could be the presence of asbestos, which has detrimental effects on one’s health.
  • Mold: Older homes are less insulated and airtight, leading to moisture seepage and mold growth. Learn more by reading our blog, Tips to Preventing and Removing Mold.
  • Lead Paint: Houses built before 1978 have a high likelihood of containing lead-based paint, which is a toxic material that is especially dangerous for children.
  • Dry Rot: Older homes tend to have more leaks, leading to a fungus known as dry rot, which can lead to respiratory problems and asthma.

Foundation Damage

If you notice cracks in the concrete foundation outside the house, it’s a sign of foundation damage, which has serious structural and financial repercussions. Further signs to be on the lookout for are crooked floors, windows and doors not fitting in their frames, and cracks in the wall. Alternatively, some older homes may not even have a concrete foundation and are instead built on post and pier, which makes insuring a home more difficult.

On top of all the damaging aspects to consider when buying an old house, one must consider the cost to insure it. Poorly maintained older homes may require more coverage due to the increased perils. Fortunately, with our years of experience matching customers with the appropriate homeowners policy, TJ Woods Insurance can make sure your investment doesn’t go to waste. Contact us today to obtain a free quote.