What to Check When Buying an Old Home

Thinking of buying an old home? You might need to think of these potential problems first.

I love old homes: their exposed brickwork, the wooden beams in the ceiling, and the potential they have to become a stunning family home. They have something that modern homes just don’t have.

That’s why so many people choose them over the more contemporary options on the housing market. However, you need to be careful whenever you’re considering buying an old home because there could be problems lurking that will cost money to fix.

This post isn’t about putting you off, just making you aware. You should know what to look for when house hunting. So, here are the things that you should be looking for when buying an old home.

 

A Deteriorating Roof

The roof is the one thing that’s easy to ignore. It’s all the way up there, so you’re not about to get a ladder out and climb on it yourself. There are no obvious signs you can see, but you have to go out of your way to have the roof properly assessed. However, it’s important not to ignore this vital issue. Old homes tend to have roofs that are deteriorating and becoming weaker. If they have been neglected for a long time, work will probably be required.

 

Structural Issues

Structural problems can be very expensive to deal with in some circumstances. Of course, that all depends on what the precise structural problem is. You should always be aware of issues before you sign any documents or hand over any cash. A home’s value can be seriously limited if there are big underlying structural problems. The sooner you find out about them, the better it will be for you. A detailed survey will give you all the information you’re likely to need. Just make sure you pay for the most expensive survey as this will really show up any potential problems.

 

Hazardous Materials

There are a couple of hazardous materials that you should be on the lookout for when you’re scouting out old homes. First and foremost, you should find out if there is any asbestos present in the property. This will need to be removed by a professional team that can get it all done properly and safely. It’s a very dangerous substance so should be taken seriously. On top of that, you should find out if there is any lead in the property.

 

Signs of Woodworm

Woodworm is a problem that’s pretty easy to spot because you will see damage to any wood in the home. It looks like lots of little holes in the wood. This is a sure sign that there’s a problem that needs to be treated as soon as possible. Over time, it weakens the wood and can even lead to major collapses. There are plenty of companies out there that can offer woodworm treatment services. Make the most of them if you do find a problem.

Buying an old home can cause tonnes of problems. Window with crumbling plaster and rotten wood.

Problems With Outdated Plumbing

Old plumbing systems that have seen better days might cause you a lot of problems if you don’t deal with them in the right way. It’s definitely the kind of change that you might want to consider making as soon as you buy a property. A modern plumbing system won’t take away from the home’s period character in any way, but it will have a big impact on how you use and experience your home.

 

Damage Caused by Termites

Termite damage can be just as disastrous as woodworm damage, so you should be sure to look out for that too. Swollen floors and wood that seems to be buckling are two symptoms of a termite problem. Despite the cost, time and disruption associated with getting rid of a termite problem, that work needs to be done so don’t be tempted to put it off.

 

Mould and Mildew

Any walls in the home that have been exposed to too much moisture over the years will likely be affected by mould and mildew. These can cause gradually increasing damage to your home and its structure. You will probably notice the smell as soon as you walk into the property, so seek out the source of the problem with your nose and be sure to get it fixed up as soon as you can.

 

Old homes are great for anyone who enjoys renovation work. It allows you to put your own stamp on the property, and that’s got to be a good thing. However, don’t turn a blind eye to the problems you’re likely to face with a home that was built a long time ago because doing so will only cause you more problems later.

How to avoid house renovation disasters

Our house renovation did not always go to plan, so here are some tips on how to avoid house renovation disasters. Hopefully, I can help a few people out, and they can avoid making the same mistakes that we did.

Making a stud wall

We ‘found’ an old doorway that had clearly been boarded up a few years ago. Our house must have originally had a hallway, and this would have been the door that ran from the back of the hall into the kitchen. It had been boarded up with chipboard which couldn’t be plastered over.

This set us back a couple of weeks as Jay had to make a stud wall himself, which he had never done before. It would have been fluke to get it right first time, so it had to come down and be built again. Luckily, Jay had learnt from his mistake and got it perfect the second time, using the right tools

The floor had to be levelled twice

With a house, know that nothing is going to be straight. Literally, none of our walls are straight, and our floors weren’t level enough for the wooden flooring in the kitchen. It also didn’t help that cement had been used to glue the tiles to the floor.

When Jay was lifting them up, a huge metre-wide chunk of concrete came up with the tiles. This had to be filled in with concrete, and then the floor was properly levelled.

But even after one ‘go’ of levelling it wasn’t level, so we had to do it again.

avoid house renovation disasters for mess

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

Some of the plastering had to be redone

Thanks to our wonky walls, the plastering was done twice to try and level them out. Some walls were fine to be left, but our chimney breast was visibly out of line. It was re-plastered to bring it straight with the other side.

This doesn’t sound like a big job, but it meant we had to wait another week for it to dry before we could emulsion the walls.

Some of our skirting didn’t even touch parts of the wall, because it was so out of line, so we had to fill this in afterwards with caulk.

The radiators went on before the skirting board

This is a logistics problem that no one thought through. It wasn’t too much of a problem. It just meant me and Jay were on our hands and knees with a laser level. We had to get the skirting cut straight and then nailed on correctly.

Top tip to avoid house renovation disasters: try and paint the skirting before it goes on the walls. If you have a workbench, balance the skirting on it and prime and gloss it. It might take a couple of days, but when the skirting is on the wall, it’s difficult to paint it accurately whilst crawling on the floor. I did get some on the freshly-painted walls (ssh, don’t tell Jay).

Always leave a toilet in when renovating the bathroom

Even if you have to plumb it in again at the end of every day, it’s crucial that you leave the toilet in. I had to use my neighbours’ for around 8 weeks. Luckily, we weren’t living there full time, and Jay often used my flower beds instead (thanks).

Photo by Paco S on Unsplash

Keep every single receipt

The amount of money we have probably wasted because we wanted to take something back, that we didn’t use, is probably ridiculous.

Luckily, places such as Wickes have a six-month return policy, so you still have time to find that receipt even four months later.

If you’re lazy, it’s best to stockpile things that need to go back, so you can do it in one trip.

I hope these tips on how to avoid house renovation disasters helps you somewhat! Really think about the order of things logically to avoid making things more difficult for yourself. You wouldn’t put the flooring in and then paint the ceiling!

Any other tips you’d add? Let me know in the comments.