New isn’t always better, and this is especially true when buying an old house. Often an older house may have been built better. And it will be unique and unlike any houses next door, and this is often not the case in these days of mass urban development when many modern homes in a neighborhood look like each other.
The Look and Feel of an Old Home
Imagine if you were to buy a historical, Victorian styled home in the heart of Wetaskiwin, Alberta. If it were built at the beginning of the last century, you would probably be getting solid wood floors and panels, majestic staircases, and a gorgeous, large garden.
Your house would have class and charm because you won’t be settling for any of the cheaper materials now used in buildings like easy-to-assemble drywall.
Still, you may need to do some major renovations, gutting the rooms to replace old electric wires. Besides improving the electrical wiring, take the time to find a directory energy website to see if you can buy deregulated energy. In our example of the Victorian home, you would look for information for a new energy supply for Alberta residents.
Features to Notice in an Old Home
When you walk into an old home, you might feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to a period in history when things were calmer and more balanced, and when life was easier.
The reason you feel this way is because of some of the unique features. When looking for an old home, here are some things to notice:
- Brick Walls
- Ceiling Medallions
- Ceiling Tiles
- Claw-Foot Tubs
- Crown Moldings
- Carriage Doors
- Decorative Brackets
- Decorative Plaster Walls
- Exterior Door Trims
- Hardwood Floor Medallions
- Kitchen Countertops
- Mosaic Floor Tiles
- Newel Posts
- Pedestal Sinks
- Radiused Moldings
- Roofing Tiles
- Shingle Sidings
- Twist Doorbells
- Wide-Plank Floors
These features will vary depending on the period when the house was built, but all you need is a few features to enjoy an ambiance of old world charm.
Issues to Review Before You Buy an Old Home
Naturally, since the house is old, you will have problems due to the age of the house or due to improvements in building construction standards since the house was built.
Here are a few problems you might come across:
Be sure to have the home reviewed by a reputable home inspector in the area to assess the foundation of the house and its structure. If the foundation has problems, you should walk away from the purchase because if there are any landslides or other movement issues, then the cost of repair can be highly expensive.
2. Pest Infestation
The biggest bug problems in old homes are termites and powderpost beetles.
Termites love to munch their way through soft wood and this causes many leaks when it rains. Another problem is powderpost beetles, which have a notorious reputation for reducing wood to a fine pile of powder.
Hire a pest control company to inspect the house and give you an estimation of how much it would cost to clean up any issues.
3. Lead Paint
The harmful effects of lead paint only became known in the 1970s, and it was banned in 1978. An old home built before the ban may have been painted with lead-based paints. These paints were often used to paint floors, trims, doors, and windows.
Lead poisoning can create cardiac arrest in adults, cause miscarriage in pregnant women, and arrest a child’s brain development.
Fortunately, not all houses used lead paint, and even homes built in the 1940s might not have any.
The biggest problem is detecting lead paints, and while you can buy a lead paint detection kit, it’s better to hire a certified lead inspector to do a thorough check.
Old homes usually have two types of plumbing problems: galvanized pipes and sewer lines.
Galvanized pipes are often corroded, especially the hot water pipes. As a result, they are often plugged up.
The sewer line is the plumbing that extends to the street. If after turning off all the water from the house, the meter still shows water flow, there is a leak in the plumbing that connects to the house.
Get a plumber to check out the plumbing in a house before you buy it to assess what the costs might be. There may be no problem, or it could be expensive to get the entire plumbing system redone.
5. Heating systems
100 year old homes or older often have outdated heating systems because these homes were originally heated with highly inefficient oil burners. Back in the day, oil was inexpensive. If the heating system isn’t in great shape, it could be a serious fire hazard.
Like the plumbing issue, make sure that you check the heating system and evaluate the cost of modernizing it. In addition, be sure to check the windows, too. If the house has single pane windows, they won’t hold much heat.
Inspect Before Buying
While an older home may evoke a sense of nostalgia and charm, be sure to look behind the scenes, including examining the foundations, pest infestation, lead paint, plumbing, and heating.