Everyone can appreciate an old house. Indeed, they can be intriguingly beautiful, and marvelously historic, but as is the case with people, old age comes with health problems. If you are considering buying an old house, beware! Old houses are known to be prone to a wide variety of problems that newer houses are not. When you are vetting your prospective home, here are some things to watch out for…
#1 Rodents & Bats
An infestation of rodents or bats is not an insurmountable problem in a house, but it is certainly going to be headache if it is not caught prior to your move-in date. How can you recognize the signs? Take a quiet, observant walk through the house. You may be able to hear them squeaking. You might find their droppings. You might smell them. You might see physical evidence of their activities (gnawing, nesting, etc.)
#2 Termites & Other Bugs
Unlike rodents and bats, an infestation of termites or certain types of other bugs could potentially be a deal breaker when buying an old house. In the U.S., termites cause roughly $2.5 billion in damage every year. This is good for the economy, but potentially devastating for your home. Other types of bugs can cause similar damage to your prospective home. Check the wood in the house for red flags!
#3 Lead Paint
Up until 1977, most houses in the U.S. were slathered in paint that contained lead. It turned out that lead is actually poisonous for humans, so when you are looking at a house that was built before 1977, this is something you need to watch out for, especially if you have children. Lead gives paint a sweet flavor, which, over the years, has prompted many small children to lick it. Removing the residual toxins left by lead paint from a house is a substantial and costly procedure.
#4 Poison Water
While we’re on the subject of lead, prior to the discovery of all the harmful effects of lead, most houses used lead pipes in their plumbing as well. This can poison the water supply, and cause cognitive and developmental issues. Also, many old houses use well water, so you will want to ask about the kind of filtration system the house is equipped with.
#5 Outdated Insulation & Heating Systems
Old houses might look nice, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel nice in the winter. Aged houses tend to be very poorly insulated, so this something you’ll want to inquire about before you pull the trigger on your purchase. A good place to begin this discussion is the house’s windows and heating system.
#6 Foundational / Structural Issues
This is just about the worst thing that can befall an old house. If you discover structural damage in your prospective home, run away. Run fast. Run far. How can you recognize this? Check if the doors and windows close and lock smoothly. Check for cracks in the floors and walls. Look at the house from a distance to see if it’s tilting or has any concerning inconsistencies.
#7 Leaky Roof / Moisture / Mold
A leaky roof can lead to moisture damage. This alone is catastrophic for a home, because the roof will likely need to be replaced. Moisture, however, can lead to something even worse in a home: mold. Mold, like lead, is also poisonous. If a prospective house has any of these issues, walk away. This is a deal breaker.
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