Old houses come with a charm that attracts many buyers.
But those on a tight budget should be wary – old houses require a lot more maintenance than newer ones. Here are just some of the hidden costs of buying an old house that owners may not realise.
Expensive gas bills
Most new properties are built with every type of insulation going from double glazing to pipe insulation to cavity wall insulation. Old properties may have none of this insulation causing them to lose heat faster. Big old homes are particularly renowned for their high gas bills – their large rooms make them slower to heat up.
You can either put up with these high gas bills or invest in insulation. A new boiler may also be in order. The latter is better if you’re staying at the property long-term, although installing insulation may add some value to your home that could make up for costs.
This is the first winter in our 1970s home, and our loft insulation is torn up newspaper. Safe to say, it’s not doing very much. We’re currently trying to invest in some proper loft insulation to keep us properly toasty. Our boiler has just reached the 10-year mark, so we might be getting a combi boiler which is more economical and cheaper to run.
Old homes have a lot of wear and tear to deal with. Some of this could be aesthetic such as touching up an old paint job or replacing a worn linoleum floor. Some could be more important such as a plumbing leak or leaky roof.
Other repairs may be a matter of emergency such as subsidence and bad cracks in the walls. Before buying an old property, it’s always worth hiring a chartered building surveyor who can warn you of some of these future costs. You don’t want to move into a house that could need major reconstruction in a few years. This is one of the biggest hidden costs of buying an old house.
An old home may have older fixtures. In terms of kitchen appliances, this could result in less energy efficient fixtures such as an old oven or washing machine that may need to be updated. An old toilet may use up more water per flush, whilst baths and sinks may simply look mottled.
Replacing these fixtures can add up costs. Of course you may get lucky and find an old property which has recently had all its fixtures updated by the previous owner.
Old properties are generally not as waterproof. Damp leaking through cracks in the walls and out of old pipes can cause damp, which may then lead to mould. You can remove mould yourself, but in serious cases you may want to hire a professional.
Some construction materials that were commonplace years ago have since become banned due to their health risks. Whilst newer properties cannot be built with these materials, older properties may still have these materials lurking in the walls.
Asbestos is one of the more renowned hazardous materials – a fire-proof insulator that has since been shown to be carcinogenic if inhaled. Similarly, lead was often used in old houses in paint and even pipes. You could end up paying a hazardous materials removal company a lot of money to get these materials removed.
On top of these materials, there are poisonous gases that may need to be checked for – a carbon monoxide monitor could be useful for spotting a potentially deadly gas leak from old pipes, whilst an airtight cellar or foundations could help to prevent radon from leaking in.
All of these hidden costs of buying an old property need to be properly fixed. They cannot be fixed with temporary measures. Put the time in to fix them properly, and your home will be leak-free and toasty all winter.