Buying an older home can be a good way to save money on housing costs – there’s also a certain charm that comes along with a truly vintage property; crystal door handles, solid wood decorative trim, hardwood flooring, plaster walls, and other such amenities. Unfortunately, however, buying an older property also comes with its own set of unique challenges you’ll need to be aware of. Regardless of the age of the home, it’s absolutely critical to have it inspected by a qualified inspector before you sign on the dotted line. As you prepare for your inspection, keep these frequently-seen problems in mind.
1. Lead Paint
Many older homes were painted inside and out with lead based paint – a substance now known to be highly toxic. Although the paint poses no particular risk if left undisturbed, old paint easily chips and crumbles, and can quickly make its way into the mouths of children or pets. While it is theoretically possible to strip lead based paint, most contractors simply prefer to remove and replace the affected drywall or siding, as this method poses significantly less safety risk.
Asbestos is a known cancer-causing agent that was used in private homes for many years due to its insulating properties. Although you’ll sometimes find it in exterior siding, the insulator is especially problematic in its “friable” iteration, which was used primarily for interior uses. In older homes, you’ll most often find friable asbestos around hot water heaters, pipes, and furnaces. It must be removed by a technician legally qualified to handle the substance safely.
3. Ungrounded Outlets
Modern electrical systems contain a “ground” wire that prevents the system from shorting out and causing fire. Unfortunately older homes lack this crucial safety feature. The easiest way to determine if your outlets are grounded is if they lack the third prong hole necessary to establish a ground. This grounding is particularly important in kitchens and garages, where high-powered items are at significant risk of coming into contact with water.
4. Oil Tanks
Most older homes were heated at one time another by oil, which was typically stored in buried tanks. Over the years, many of these tanks have rusted through, seeping the remaining contents out into the surrounding soil. If you suspect there might be an unused tank on the property, it pays to have a specialist give you an estimate – the cost to rectify the tank can vary widely depending on the remediation necessary. Tanks in good structural shape that can be successfully emptied can usually be left in place and filled with gravel and sand. Leaky or unstable tanks must be removed and properly disposed of. The disposal laws for old oil tanks vary by state, so be sure to check your local ordinances.
5. Cracking Foundation
An insecure foundation can cause a wide variety of problems, from causing toxic radon levels to basement leaks to major structural issues. For light cases of cracking, an interior sealant can be applied. For cases in which the structural integrity of the property is compromised, more aggressive steps are usually necessary.
This post comes from Aware1, who are experts at asbestos inspection. If you’re concerned about possible asbestos contamination in your home, check out their website