10 Step Checklist When Buying a 50 or 100 year old house?

You may have been considering some of the newer homes on the market. There are also many reasons why a family chooses to consider buying a 50 or 100-year-old home. Maybe you choose one that is even older than that. It’s why you need a checklist to know some of the issues you could run into.

When you’re buying such an old place, there are also many things you’ll need to be looking out for. They could otherwise turn out to be an unfortunate surprise at a later point. It is why we have made this checklist for you.

We do not want to discourage you from buying an older place when the right one comes on the market. It may mean that it has a bunch of lead paint, which can be safe if the paint is still in good condition. We also want you to know that the home may have issues with its indoor air quality. It’s the reason you might want to have it checked out before you choose to send off an offer.

Pros and cons of buying a 100 year old house

PROSCONS
Affordable
Great attention to detail, often
Location

Not energy-efficient
Potential unknown issues
Outdated building code compliance
Lack of storage
Outdated design

Problems with old houses, and what to look for

There’s no denying that older homes tend to have more problems than newer ones do. It is a result of a bunch of wear on the house and the fact that various technologies have been improving over the last couple of centuries. It’s especially over the last couple of decades.

You don’t have to go further back than 1977 to get to the year when the inclusion of lead in residential paint was banned. It’s the reason buying a 50-year-old home means that it is something that you may very well want to consider.

An inspection is done to assess and find potential issues. You want to understand better the things you might have to deal with when you’re buying one of these older beauties.

House seen from the outside in the winter

1. The first thing to mention here is the foundation.

The foundation is an important part of the house that will get exposed to a bit of everything throughout a home’s lifespan. It is also one of the things that can be extremely costly to have to prepare.

Various foundation issues are more cosmetic than anything. Others pose very significant risks to the people living in the house.

Smaller settlement cracks aren’t uncommon in older homes. In contrast, damaged support footings are a much larger issue. It will set you back a lot of money if it’s something you will have to address.

There might be a reason why it ended up on the market at that low price you’re seeing. Foundation issues are surely not something to overlook.

Doors that won’t latch, uneven floors, problems opening windows, and wall cracks are things you have to look out for. In the same way, we’d recommend you get a pro to do it when you need lead testing. Ensure a reputable inspector can assess the costs involved in remedying the foundation issues. The home may be so unfortunate to suffer from, and it may cost you a pretty penny to fix.

2. A roof that is in bad shape

Roofs will have an expected amount of time that you can expect for them to last, with some types of materials significantly outlasting others. A deteriorating roof is surely a common thing you may find with an older home.

Weather, maintenance, material, and installation quality are all factors that will affect how long you can expect to keep having a functioning roof. Your inspector should give you a pretty good understanding of when that time comes up for you.

A poorly maintained roof is the fastest way for you to have to replace those expensive slabs prematurely. Maybe the type of roof that was originally installed required painting every couple of years. That wasn’t a thing that was done. You would also see the roof deteriorating at a much faster pace.

Before you put a new roof on an old home, consider whether you should be getting a material you think looks the best. It might be another option that will still get the job done while doing it in a way that gives you a lot less maintenance. The choice is up to you.

You will want to look for bowing gutters, roof leaks, and missing shingles being the most obvious signs for these old homes.

3. Dangerous building materials

Dangerous building materials are one of the things that we think is the most important for you to be looking out for. It’s because we help contractors get the necessary supplies for testing for lead. However, asbestos is another big thing previously used when building homes.

Great news. If you’re building a low-budget 3-bedroom home, you won’t have to be concerned about some of the worries associated with an old one.

If it was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that it has lead in parts of it. You’ll be required to test when you want to update it.

It is not a safety issue to live in a home where lead paint is in good condition. It is becoming rarer to find homes where that is the case. It has been more than 40 years since the material was banned in residential paint, and paint deterioration over time. It also leaks into the soil outside if used in the exterior paint and starts deteriorating.

There’s a time and a place to buy these. Many buyers may make contingent offers to assess the extent of the problem properly. They subsequently reduce their offer if they find many things need to be addressed. A lead paint clause is a common clause when buying something this old.

new england style house

4. Checking the air quality

While deteriorating lead paint is just one of the things that may affect the air quality, radon and carbon monoxide are two other things.

A professional can help mitigate the situation if large amounts of radon are found. It’s a good idea to monitor the air quality continuously should you choose to buy the home. You can expect that radon mitigation will cost you somewhere between $900-1,000 when you’re buying an old home like this. It is a reasonable thing to include in your negotiation with the seller.

5. Issues with the electrical wiring of the house

While diamonds may last forever, your electrical system won’t necessarily. There comes a time and a place when it will need to be replaced.

Rather than having to move in and address it as you’re living in the home, it is very common for people to replace the electrical system before moving in. The electrical system is not something that you can replace yourself. You’d risk very serious consequences if you’re not entirely sure what it is that you’re doing. Hiring licensed contractors are the way to do it. It ensures that the book, including legally do everything. Most buyers will ask for price reductions when issues are found with how the electrical system was installed back in the day.

Updating the electrical system helps add functionality if you hope to have more outlets installed. It was common only to have a few outlets when the house was built. It is also important in mitigating potential fires since the exposed wire is a fire hazard.

A more modern lifestyle includes having ready access to electricity. The number of outlets present may not provide for the needs of that stubborn teenager that you will have living with you.

If the wiring was installed before 1960, you should expect it to last about 70 years. However, this is not professional advice as you will need to have an assessment done before you move in. This is not where you will want to save money by hiring someone who doesn’t have the right skills. You should know that most states require electricians to be licensed by the state. Important information to be equipped with as you’re considering buying that old home for your family.

The wiring may have a lifespan of about 70 years when they were installed. Circuit breakers and service panels also have a certain lifespan before they need replacing. 60 years and 30 years is what you can usually expect to get out of each of them before something needs to be done about it.

part of New Orleans

6. Plumbing issues

Lead in the paint was the most common place to find heavy metal. There was also a period when it was common for the plumbing to be made out of lead.

It was common for cups to be made out of lead long ago. To minimize the potential risk of lead pipes, some things can be done. It includes letting the water run a little bit before you pour yourself a glass of water. Older pipes are more likely to contain this material. As these pipes age, fragments of lead enter the water. It’s the reason you might be tempted to let the water run before pouring. It’s also the reason you could also very well have to replace part of the piping.

The inspector should also inspect the piping, which helps ensure that there aren’t roots causing issues. You could also have overgrown the pipes, leading to leaks and low water pressure. You may also end up experiencing slow water drainage if various clogs need to be dealt with.

7. Energy efficiency issues

Suppose you are among the people focused on driving down your energy demands and lowering your carbon emissions. In that case, it will probably not be from the fact that you’re considering moving into an old home.

They’re notorious for suffering from energy efficiency issues, given that they were made when the standard of insulation wasn’t as high as it is today. You’ll also be more likely to experience single-pane windows when you’re moving into an old home.

Suppose you’re living in a part of the country that requires either heating or cooling year-round. Make sure that you have budgeted for the implications of moving into an old home. Given its poor insulation, it might seem practically impossible to keep at the right temperature. The finishes of an old home also drive many people to choose to live in them. There surely are ways of making them more energy-efficient.

If you’re feeling a draft as the windows are closed, that’s a good indication that there is little insulation. Condensation on the glass is another thing to look out for, especially between the different layers.

You can have a professional go around the house with a tool that measures the temperature of the exterior. It indicates the quality of the insulation that remains in the home. It can also help give you an idea of the cost incurred when you’re heating or cooling the space.

8. Needing to replace mechanical equipment

The AC unit in any house will only survive for a certain amount of time before you have to replace it. It is the case with the furnace and the water heater.

Ensure to check or have the inspector check on the condition of the various mechanical equipment in the house. Suppose they’ve been replaced as per the recommendation of pros. It is a good sign that you may also otherwise buy from people who have put pride in keeping their possession maintained.

If those units need to be replaced soon, your budget needs to account for them.

9. Are there any outdated features you want to address?

This may be less about the invisible condition of the home you’re buying. It’s important to know that a certain price may be associated with bringing the various features up to the standard you’re hoping to have it at.

This can include various things like removing that 50s look that the kitchen has from when it was originally installed. However, it can also be a matter of finishing up the basement and making it a more usable space than what it currently is.

10. Additional concerns

There may be some things on this list that are deal breakers for you, and you would want to consider looking in a different direction. There’s no denying that you can potentially scoop up an old home and turn it into quite a good investment. That is assuming you are doing all your due diligence and ensuring you know what type of project you are getting yourself into.

Avoid spending a lot of time finding a home that has a lot of the features that your family wants. It’s located in a place where you might be spending a significant amount of years. In the end, you find out that it has all sorts of problems that you weren’t expecting. The biggest issue that people underestimate is the issue with the foundation. The repair work involved with stabilizing a house can be entirely crippling. It can suddenly turn a place into a bad investment rather than a good one.

There may be minor things that arise that you weren’t expecting when you start dealing with some of the major things being issues. It is usually because the necessary homework wasn’t done properly.

Maybe you consider yourself quite the handyman. You might be able to replace the floor and do quite a bit more of the work than your average Joe would be capable of doing. There are just some things that are too much for one person to handle.

On the other hand, some projects may require specialized equipment that may run you in the thousands of dollars. They may be prohibitively expensive to get to do the remedy work yourself.

You may not be forced to get an XRF machine to do a lead test. You won’t personally be able to remedy a situation where the foundation of the come is entirely ruined. Maybe it was never done properly in the first place. You may also work with a paint stripper and bring back the old appeal, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready for a bigger repair job.

Before you offer on one of these old beauties, you will want to make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. Our recommendation is always to make an offer contingent on a range of things.

This should not surprise the seller, who naturally recognizes that they aren’t selling a house built yesterday. Maybe the real estate agent or the seller is pushing you to submit an offer that doesn’t have contingencies. We would recommend you to pass on it rather than trying to force it to work.

No contingency, no deal

If you start looking around online, you can easily find out the average cost for a specific problem that a house is dealing with. If you start looking around online, you will see that various websites report that foundation repair will cost you around $4,000 to have fixed.

These websites won’t tell you how they came to that number. The average cost associated with a project doesn’t consider that you may be standing in front of a house with a lot more severe problems. They’re going off of averages. The one you’re looking at maybe more severe than what would typically be expected for a project where the average repair cost applies.

There are situations where you may have to spend $100,000 to deal with issues in the foundation. All of a sudden, your budget looks significantly different. When you are buying an old home, you mustn’t be barely able to afford it.

It is important that your budget and calculations take any situation into account. That way, you won’t be surprised if some of the repair work ends up being twice as expensive as you had imagined.

We recommend that you put in various contingencies in an offer, including the cost to repair the place’s flaws. Suppose there are plumbing issues that need to be dealt with. Your offer should include that you can get a legally binding offer from a plumber for the cost of the work that needs to be done. The offer cannot exceed a certain amount of money.

The norm

Certain things are the norm when you buy a house. There is no reason you shouldn’t structure an offer that is slightly different from how these things are usually done.

It might be that the seller thinks your ideas are a little bit too creative. It is better that you buy something right for you, on the terms that work for you. Don’t get pushed into a situation that could end up negatively impacting your financial future.

The norm is usually that there is a certain amount that your offer may be reduced by depending on an inspector’s findings. When dealing with one of these older options, get the seller to fix it or have a legally binding offer from a contractor to do the work. Your offer is conditional on that.

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