Ahh, the charm and character of an older home or even a vintage or historic home. But while they may look grand from the outside or just the idea, in theory, there are some serious issues to consider.
#1. Where does my property line and?
Older homes that have sat on property lines for decades may be skewed as to where that line actually exists. If there’s any contradiction, concern, or question, consider having a boundary survey so you know exactly what’s your property and what is your neighbor’s. If there fences over on your property by 2 feet, but it’s been that way for decades, is it worth it? Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to understand that this might be an issue.
#2. Asbestos, lead, and copper… Oh my!
Any homes built before 1970 are likely to have asbestos, copper piping, and lead paint. This may or may not be an issue depending on what you’re planning on doing with the home. If a remodel is in your future, you may need to have professionals that specialize in asbestos removal to take care of any known issues. It’s important to know the EPA recommendations for dealing with asbestos, lead in lead paint that could be under several years of paint, or copper piping and how to correct that.
#3. Low water pressure.
The water pressure might have been fantastic when the house was first built, but fast-forward a few decades and new houses may have moved into the neighborhood, been built, or even large construction like condominium or apartment buildings. All of this may take away from your original water pressure and the water may not be enough to keep up with your family. Think of it this way, if you have someone taking a shower, running the dishwasher, and washing machine all at the same time, there may not be enough pressure to do anybody any good.
#4. Drafty windows and doors.
Unless the home has been updated, chances are most of the windows are single pane. This can let in a lot of drafts and you can lose a lot of energy throughout the winter months. If you don’t want to replace windows, you may be able to restore them to improve looks and performance or install storm windows on the outside of the house.
#5. Odd noises.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your house is haunted, but older homes tend to make a lot of noises as they expand and contract with the seasons or even throughout the day. This may or may not be startling to you.
#6. Slow drains.
Most contemporary or modern buildings require a central drain waste that connects every drain line to keep airlocks from forming but older homes may not be adequately vented so slow drainage could be an issue. You can have a plumber install an automatic event or an air admittance valve on slow draining or slow flushing toilets, which may solve the problem.
#7. Shingles or composite roofs?
Many older homes, especially those built around the 1930s and 1940s have wood shingles that overlap and older homes may even have more layers of shingles without a roof deck or sheathing beneath. This can be extremely expensive to replace and repair if necessary. Have your inspector verify the roof and its longevity.
#8. Not up to code.
Many of the items in the home may not be up to code and can be an expensive repair. This could be outdated or nonexistent smoke detectors, CO detectors, slats in stairwells that are too far apart making it unsafe for children, etc. There are a lot of issues that have since become code and you may not be able to even buy the house until it is brought up to code depending on your home loan.
Wallpaper is actually coming back in style but if you’re buying a 100-year-old house, chances are you may have several layers of tough, determined wallpaper. This could take hours of work to remove and lots of energy and elbow grease. If you’re willing to do it, it can lend a great result but it is a lot of work.
#10. Higher homeowner’s insurance.
Most buyers don’t even consider this until they’ve already moved in and realized that their homeowner’s insurance has increased dramatically. Because rebuilding a Victorian home or historic property costs more than a modern home, insurance companies can charge higher premiums for the replacement costs. Double-check with your insurance company on any additional fees you may incur by having an older home.
Get a List of all Older Homes Around Indianapolis
Again, the charm and sophistication of a vintage home is a joy like no other but as long as you go into the project eyes wide open, you could be in for a rude awakening.