1. The Condition Of The Foundation
Many older homes have foundation issues. While old stone foundations are rather strong, the mortar used between the stones isn’t as strong, which can lead to cracking and uneven settling. Cement block foundations are prone to the same type of problems, resulting in water leakage and mildew/mold growth. Finally, older foundations usually lack the waterproofing layer on the soil side typically used in modern home construction.
2. The Type Of Framework
Older homes were typically built using real wood – usually heavy timbers. Unfortunately, this means they are susceptible to termites and/or post beetles. Make sure the inspector checks for damage caused by pest infestation, as they can wreak havoc on an older home.
3. Toxic Materials
Many older homes contain toxic materials such as lead paint and asbestos. Unless the previous owners have had these substances removed by professionals, it’s probably they still exist in the home. Lead paint can be covered by layers of new paint, and even though asbestos is a great fire stopper, it can be very hazardous if inhaled.
If you suspect the home you’re considering may contain either of these materials, ask your agent for recommendations on a hazardous materials professional to have it tested. If the home does contain hazardous materials, just know that removing them is a very big and costly endeavor.
4. The Home’s Inner Workings
Many older homes have outdated mechanical systems. For example, knob and tube wiring was popular at one time. Unfortunately, the paper insulation used around the wiring deteriorates, leaving wires exposed as a potential fire hazard.
Old plumbing can not only leak but lead soldering can make the home’s water supply unsafe to drink. An inspector can identify the materials used in the home’s plumbing and a simple test using lead detection strips can determine if the water is safe to drink or not.
Finally, the home’s heating system should be checked. Find out how old the system is and what kind of shape the chimney is in. Replacing a furnace isn’t cheap, so find out how well the existing system works.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
If the home is for sale by owner, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the owner to find out what you want to know. The more you can find out, the more you can plan and prepare for any upgrades and/or renovations that are necessary to make the home safe and comfortable to live in.