There’s something about older homes that make them appealing to many buyers. Maybe it’s the ornate, decorative aesthetics and the fact that they aren't the cookie-cutter homes of today, or maybe it's the high standard of quality in the structure. Regardless of what it is that you’re drawn to, it’s important to be aware of the potential trials and tribulations you may be about to face. Here are a few of the things to be aware of when purchasing an older home - or to keep in mind when selling yours.
One of the main concerns with older homes is that many of them predate current-day safety features. For example, homes built between the 1940's and 1970's often use dangerous asbestos as insulation for pipes, and homes built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint. You'll also want to make sure you thoroughly inspect the wiring in any home built before the 1950's as they may use a rubber compound that becomes brittle over time, which can pose a fire hazard.
Botox Won't Fill the Cracks
Signs of aging like cracks and leaks are inevitable in older homes regardless of the quality of the materials and workmanship. Seemingly superficial issues may lead to further trouble down the road, so it’s important to be aware of potential damage that may eventually result if they aren't dealt with. One small leak today may be one large pool tomorrow.
Don't Get Left in the Cold
Houses that come from an era before the Cold War could easily leave you shivering. In many older homes, not only could the existing insulation contain dangerous asbestos, it could be letting tons of heat escape. The other culprit of a chilly home could be outdoor facing doors and windows allowing air leaks and drafts. A little caulk goes a long way - According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a homeowner may save anywhere from 5 - 30 percent per year on energy costs by plugging leaks.
In older homes, oil was the main source of heat and required an oil tank. If your home hasn't switched over to a new source for heating, you may be left with a huge burden. Not only do oil tanks take up space, they can also leak and produce an unpleasant smell. In extreme cases,you could be stuck with a bill up to $60,000 to remove an old buried tank and to clean up any mess it left.
Like old vintage cars, old homes come with a slew of insurance problems. Insurers may demand that many of the issues mentioned above be fixed before they're willing to insure you. They could require an outdated electrical system be upgraded or an oil tanker be removed if it's more than 20 years old which means big expenses, and big headaches.
Buying an older home can be rewarding and give you that antique charm you're so desperately craving, but each one poses its own unique challenges. It's important to be aware of your home's specific situation so that you may make the most informed decision possible and be happy with your purchase. Here's a tip: a home warranty can help cover some of the expenses associated with major systems and appliances failing and is especially important in an older home. Learn more about what a home warranty is here.