The charm, character and unique qualities are often what drives buyers toward older houses. However, forgoing new residential constructions in favor of something a little - or a lot - older could be accompanied by a number of problems.
However, this shouldn't be a deterrent for a buyer, it should instead be a call to action. A property inspection might be able to alleviate any concerns, while at the same time reassuring a buyer that their heart is in the right place.
In the end, there is a lot to love about old homes. But before making an offer, prospective buyers should double-check seriously important components to make sure that everything is in working order.
Treat old homes as an investment opportunity
Environmental and safety hazards might pop up more often the older a home gets. Therefore, buying a decades-old property should be proceeded by a home inspection, just in case. This type of real estate might be considered an investment, something where the right dollars put in could have a significant return down the line.
David Tyson, a design-build professional, explained to Bankrate about some problems he often sees, as well as the mentality buyers should take into account when looking at older homes.
"When you're buying an old house, it's not so much a matter of what you end up putting back into it," Tyson told the news source. "It's the realization that you've bought old housing stock and it does need to be maintained to keep your investment up. If you spend your dollars right and do it well, it will hold or increase its value."
Common old house problem areas
Environmental hazards are something to focus on, according to Tyson. Radon is a frequent problem, and foundation cracks might let this naturally occurring gas into a building.
Tyson recommended simple fixes such as improving ventilation or sealing a basement floor. However, a home inspection might spot large enough foundation cracks that could require more expensive repairs.
In addition, lead isn't just found in paint. Pipes used to be made out of the substance until the late 1940s, according to Bankrate. Even after that, the metal might make an appearance in newer pipes. An old home might need the pipes replaced if too much lead is present, or a cheaper kitchen filtration system could help purify drinking water.
Design limitations in older houses
Once a homeowner is comfortable with the overall safety of an older house, there might still be design constraints.
For example, some storage options that are present in newer homes might be lacking, according to Boston.com. Cabinets might not be as functional as expected, and possible solutions include adding more or converting window ledges into storage areas.
Moreover, there might not be a large number of windows that let in natural light. Installing transom windows, and replacing some glass with a frosted variant might let in more light while retaining privacy, the website noted.
Older homes weren't often designed with modern conveniences in mind, and that could even extend to the floor plan. Before making any changes, a homeowner should have a property inspection completed to make sure that there aren't any safety problems before removing walls or altering the layout.
In one Cambridge house, the residents couldn't access children's bedrooms from the master suite, the website reported. The solution was to create a new, functional hallway - something that a modern home might have already had installed.
When looking at older homes, potential buyers should always double-check to ensure that modern safety features and amenities still meet their needs. In some cases, changes should be made to improve a property's quality.