Five Common Problems with Older Properties

November 9, 2021


Older homes and properties have a certain charm, character and investment potential appeal. If you are looking to buy an older property, there are a few issues to keep an eye out for, and you may also want to call in the professionals to assess any damage and possible repair or refurbishment costs.

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From the Top: Roofing

A deteriorating roof is a common problem in older homes. Depending on the weather, maintenance record, and the quality and grade of the installation, the roof may require a large amount of repair or even full replacement from a residential roofing services. Shingles missing, gutters drooping, leaks, or moisture, pest infestations and less-effective insulation can all be assessed and studied by roofing contractors. Different types of shingles have different lifespans. Check the gutters for bubbling paint, rotting wood and water damage. Moss also causes damage to roofing materials if given time to establish and grow. Check how long the existing roof has been in place so that you can assess the necessary action. And see if other roofing options might be better.

Building Materials That Are Dangerous and Toxic Gases

If the structure was constructed before 1978, it must be tested for lead-based paint and asbestos as these are not visible to the naked eye.

Toxic gases are also common in older properties. Radon occurs from a natural uranium breakdown in the soil at the foundation. It is non-toxic but extended exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Carbon monoxide can leak from older equipment like the stove, oven, dryer and HVAC system.

Both these gases are odorless, colorless and tasteless, which makes them extremely dangerous.

Plumbing and Electrical Problems

Older properties often have lead pipes that have fragments breaking off as they age; this enters the drinking water. Check the age of the plumbing system to determine whether it needs to be replaced.

Older established trees also cause issues with the plumbing system underground as their roots interfere with the pipes and joins.

Outdated electrical systems in a building need to be assessed by a professional as this can affect your ability to get a mortgage or insurance. Service panels should be updated after sixty years and circuit breakers after thirty years.

Foundation or Structural Problems

Foundation issues are another common problem in older properties. This can range from small cracks to damaged footings. Much of this damage comes from wear and tear, age, moist soil, seismic activity and tree roots. Warning signs to look out for include wall cracks (interior and exterior), doors and windows that don’t open and close easily, and uneven floors.

Energy Inefficient

Older properties can be beautiful but highly energy inefficient. These buildings were often built without insulation. Old style windows are often a drawcard but these are mostly not insulated. This can be fairly easily solved by adding storm windows. Check the property for drafts even when the windows are closed, and check for condensation between glass layers. Old mechanical equipment like furnaces, air-conditioning units and water heaters also need to be checked as these are often energy guzzlers.

If an older classic property is your ideal, and if you have the budget for repairs and renovations, all of these problems are solvable and you can live or work comfortably in your dream property.


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