When buying an older home you are usually buying a home with built in character which has withstood the test of time and is still in habitable condition. There are some inherent problems that you might encounter when purchasing an older home. I have listed a few basic ones just for consideration.
Your older homes foundation is probably constructed of cement and stone. There would have been no waterproofing done to the exterior of the foundation and there will be no weeping tile draining into sump. This inspection area is one of the most important and expensive to repair if faulty.
Knob and tube wiring was usually installed in all older homes and there is usually still porcelain insulators present even if it was all removed. You have to have a home inspector or electrician check to ensure all the knob and tube wiring was replaced. The knob and tube was usually replaced with older two wire which has no ground and unless a total rehab was done on building you will still find two wire at outlets on upper floors and other hard to access areas.
Asbestos and vermiculite can be found in many older homes. Some older homes had hot water boilers with cast iron radiators. This systems were typically insulated with asbestos insulation. Vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos and was frequently added to attics in older homes. Asbestos requires professional removal which is very expensive.
Lead plumbing pipes and galvanized plumbing lines can be very expensive to replace and were used on most older homes. Most insurance companies in Ontario will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes tend to corrode from the inside out so that there is no warning that a pipe is about to burst.
Older homes may have many layers of lead paint which has built up over the years. Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.
Your house is old and gorgeous, as are those wonderfully ornate cast-iron radiators, but these days, energy prices are anything but old-fashioned. Older homes have radiators sized for a time when open-window ventilation was popular and insulation was uncommon. If you’ve insulated and updated your windows, your radiators are most likely larger than they need to be. You should have your home assessed by a heating expert to evaluate the expense and available options if required to upgrade your heating system.
The Barrie Home Inspector has many years of experience in inspecting Century Homes and is also a Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association. Commercial Building inspections also entail the same problems as residential and buyers have to be aware of the risks and hazards involved in purchasing older properties. Visit the Barrie Home Inspector’s site a www.barriehomeinspector.com to obtain more information and advice when dealing with older homes.