Old homes can be full of character and style, but they are also aging properties that might have plenty of their own problems. If you are tempted to buy an old house, then you should be aware of what these issues are and how you can identify them when you are inspecting the property itself.
Everybody has their own dealbreakers and personal preferences, so it is a good idea to know what problems you might run into ahead of time.
While many people love old homes for the charm that they possess, there can also be a lot of outdated things involved. This means things like incomplete areas (such as basements), oddly-spaced load-bearing walls, or rooms that are too cramped to use properly.
Replacing these can be costly, with a full remodel averaging around $46,500 or more. However, it really depends on what you are trying to do and which parts of the home you want to change. Some work might be extremely cheap, and other work might be excessively expensive.
A damaged roof can be quite a common problem with old homes since the roofing is always exposed to bad weather even if the house is empty. Look out for missing shingles, gutters that have started to bow and bend, or internal leaks that may hint at cracks in the roof.
Repairing a major part of the roof can come in at about $7,800 on average, although most of this cost goes towards labor. Remember that some homes are more vulnerable to roof damage than others, usually due to weather or climate differences.
You can always consider getting one of our dumpster rentals to help dispose of roofing tiles, especially if you are replacing the roof completely.
Issues with the foundation of an old home are quite common and can be anything from small cracks to major structural damage. This is often due to old age, but wet soil, tree roots, and other assorted causes can all begin to stack up if the house has not been cared for.
Look for cracks in the walls, uneven floors, windows that are not opening properly, or doors that are not closing shut in the right way. If you buy a house in this state, then you will have to pay an average of around $4,200 (or more) to repair the damage.
Some older homes may have been constructed using hazardous materials, such as asbestos or lead paints. These can be incredibly dangerous to live around in the long-term (or even the short-term), so it is important to get the home checked if you suspect that it might not be entirely safe.
You can’t identify these risks on your own without a lot of specialized knowledge, so you often need to get a third party to inspect the property. Deleading costs around $3,000, while asbestos removal can be anything from $2,000 to $30,000, depending on the scale of the project.
Old Electrical Wiring
There is a very high chance that an old home has outdated electrical systems or components, most of which could pose a serious threat to your health and safety. Not only could they hurt you if you touch them, but they might cause fires or shoot out sparks that can lead to major burns.
It is also worth noting that old electrical systems are often incompatible with modern devices and hardware. Unless you are using appliances that came with the house, you may have to update the wiring to make it all work with a new oven or computer.
Updating your wiring requires an inspection to actually figure out which parts are health and safety risks. Hiring an electrician can be cheap, costing around $1,300 – $2,000 in most cases. Look out for two-pronged outlets, flickering lights, or power outages – all signs that the wiring system is old.
Just like wiring, plumbing can be a major problem if your house has not been updated since it was first built. These older plumbing systems might still function, but that does not make them save – there could be lead or other materials in the water, leak, or degrade due to massive corrosion.
Some older homes can even have tree roots growing into the plumbing system or might be designed in a way that makes them incompatible with certain modern appliances. Look for low water pressure, slow drainage, and leaks to help identify problem areas or issues.
The cost of replacing the pipes in your home can vary heavily since each home may need completely different repairs. The average cost falls somewhere between $2,500 and $15,000.
Old Mechanical Systems
While it might sound odd at first, mechanical systems can be a core part of old homes. This simply includes things like water heaters and boilers, things that rely on more than just electricity to work. They tend to wear down easily, and once they are outdated getting replacement parts can be hard.
Watch out for issues like high humidity in certain rooms or excess noise near the boiler, things that can make a major difference to how comfortable you are in your home. Puddles forming around heaters and strangely-heated rooms can also be good things to look for.
Repairing or replacing your furnace will often cost around $3,000, whereas a new AC unit can be as high as $4,500 or more. Getting a new water heater is somewhere between $200 and $600 with a tank, or $600 and $1,500 for a tankless model.