We continue our article on Things To Look For When Buy An Old Home. If you didn’t read the first part of the article STOP NOW! Click Here To Read Part 1 of Things To Look For When Buying An Old Home.
4. Electrical problems
The electrical systems in old homes were not designed to keep up with modern usage. Computers, mobile devices, televisions, HVAC systems, appliances, dishwashers, washer/dryers – we use a lot of electricity, far more than people did fifty or more years ago.
If your lifestyle includes the use of a variety of electronics, you want to make sure that the home you are buying will work for your needs.
One of the more common problems to look for when it comes to an older home is knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring was prevalent from the 1890’s to 1930’s. It became far less used right around 1950. This type of wiring consisted of single-insulated copper conductors run within the walls or ceilings, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes.
They were supported on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators. Where conductors entered a wiring device such as a lamp or switch, or were pulled into a wall, they were protected by flexible cloth insulating sleeves called loom. The first insulation was asphalt-saturated cotton cloth, then rubber became common.
As a home buyer what you need to understand is that knob and tube systems lack the capacity to handle the level of power usage in today’s modern homes. One of the big problems with knob and tube wiring is that homeowners often abused the system by replacing blown fuses with fuses rated for higher currents. By doing so the wiring was subject to higher levels of current that risked heat damage or fire.
The biggest problem, however, with knob and tube wiring is the ability to get homeowners insurance. A large percentage of insurance companies will not write insurance on homes with knob and tube. Many companies will insist the knob and tube wiring be replaced or that an electrician certifies that the wiring is in good condition.
Additionally, there are many lenders who will not give a mortgage to a borrower who is purchasing a home with knob and tube wiring. If you are looking at purchasing an antique where knob and tube wiring exists, it makes sense to speak with your lender and insurance company up front.
5. Ungrounded outlets
Look around the home at the electrical outlets. Do they have three holes, or only two? If they only have two, you are not going to be able to use any devices that require grounding in the outlet – like your computer or your nice new flat screen television. While cheap adapters exist, they are not safe for long-term use, which means you will need to have an electrician fix the problem eventually.
Dealing with ungrounded outlets is not the end of the world and certainly not a reason to avoid purchasing a home.
6. Insurance costs
If you do have old electrical or plumbing systems in your house, you may find it difficult or expensive to get homeowners insurance. Many policies won’t cover damage caused by old, worn out systems. To get the insurance you may have to update your home extensively, which will cost a considerable amount of money.
7. Roofing issues
Like everything else on the home, the roof may have seen better days. You may look up and see missing shingles and moss, or patches of new shingles placed over the old. Or, you may see what looks like a roof in good repair, but the inspector may discover issues that are not visible to you from the ground.
There are definite signs that you need a new roof. Take a look and see how to tell if you need a new roof.
Keep in mind, previous owners may have chosen to save money by adding new shingles over the old across the entire roof, which will look uniform, but is not the right way to replace the roof. Done more than once, it can cause damage to the home.
8. Issues With Water
If you are buying an older home the odds are increased that you could be purchasing property with an old style water source. Many years ago people had hand dug wells as their sole water source. Having a hand dug well can cause some fairly significant issues. Today’s modern homes are equipped with artesian wells that are drilled.
The problem with shallow dug wells is that there is increased risk of contaminants. Your drinking source is something you don’t want to take chances with. Many home buyers skip the well test, which can be a critical mistake.
9. Energy efficiency
Older homes were not built with energy efficiency in mind. Many do not have any insulation, or the insulation that they do have is old and ineffective.
The windows are often single-pane. To get the most out of any heating or air conditioning, you are going to need to update both the insulation and the windows in an older home.
If you are going to be purchasing an antique, I would highly recommend becoming familiar with the best energy upgrades for an old house. One of the first things you should do is get a home energy audit. These evaluations are relatively inexpensive and often times free. A professional doing an energy audit on an older home can save you quite a bit of money!
10. Insects and pests
An old home usually has unwanted guests that stick around long after the old owner has moved on. Insects, rats, mice – older homes are ideal homes for pests that you probably don’t want to live with. Some of them can be inconvenient, while others can be health hazards.
If termites are an issue, you may find that certain areas of the home are in worse repair than you initially realized. An inspector can tell you more about the particular home you are looking at, but don’t be surprised if he or she finds quite a few pest problems.
Insects are more common in older homes with older wood that may have water damage. Termites are something you should take extreme care with when purchasing an older home or any home for that matter.
When purchasing an antique don’t be surprised if the inspector points out old powder post beetle damage. Usually these bugs are not still active, however, you need to make sure the existing damage is not something that will adversely affect the structure.
11. A Realtor unfamiliar with older homes
Any experienced Realtor has probably sold quite a few older homes, and will be aware of all the possible problems buyers can run into. But not all Realtors are experienced, and you may wind up working with someone who has little experience in this area.
If you are considering mystic ct real estate homes, make sure to ask your Realtor if he or she has experience with them. You are making a big purchase, one you want to be happy with. Work with an agent you feel like you can depend on to guide you effectively and look out for your interests.
One of the bigger stumbling blocks in buying an older home will be the home inspection and subsequent negotiations for any needed repairs. You are going to need someone in your corner who is a skilled negotiator. If your agent truly doesn’t understand the issues it is awfully hard to do that.
At the bare minimum, your real estate agent should attend the home inspection to hear the problems. Many agents skip the home inspection, which is a huge mistake.
Buying a piece of history can be an exciting proposition, however, it is paramount to know exactly what you’re buying when it’s an antique. Older homes tend to have more significant problems than younger properties. As long as you do your due diligence, I am sure you’ll have a property to be excited about for many years.
Anchor Home Inspections provides quality home inspections to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Contact us to schedule a home inspection or any of our other home inspection services.
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