The historical charm of character homes can be a tempting purchase for any homebuyer. Not only can they be found for great prices, but they can also offer intricate details that you can’t get new homes.
Before you put an offer in on one of these — or any old home — there are some important questions you should ask to ensure you are educated about the home’s quirks and any potential issues, so you can accurately evaluate if an old home is right for you.
1. Is the foundation solid?
The environment is not always good for a home’s foundation. Harsh winters and heavy rains can cause cracks, shifting, and other issues to develop in the foundation, especially in homes that have been around for a while. Fixing the foundation can be a costly renovation that you want to avoid, especially in an older home. Oftentimes, however, any potential issues will be found out during a home inspection.
2. What kind of electric wiring is used?
Knob and tube wiring was the most common form of electrical wiring in homes from the early 1900s to the 1940s. In fact, many homes older still have knob and tube — and many homeowners are unaware it’s there. Unfortunately, knob and tube can be a potential fire hazard that insurance agencies are reluctant to insure. At the same time, because it’s a fire hazard, homes with knob and tube cannot be insulated, which creates additional issues.
3. What condition are the windows in?
Fixing or replacing windows can be a pricey upgrade on any home purchase, but if your new windows need to match the historical character of your old house, the cost might just be high enough to keep you from purchasing the house.
4. Does the home have lead paint on the walls?
Lead paint on wasn’t banned in Canada until 1960 and the United States until 1978, which means that until then the paint used on a home’s interior walls could contain up to as much as 50% lead. If you purchase a home built before 1960, there’s a chance your home could still have lead paint on the walls. For the safety of your family, it’s important to know the state of your walls, so that you are not exposed to any health risks. If you want to find out whether your home contains lead paint, the Canadian government recommends that you can send paint chip samples to a lab for analysis or hire a contractor who has the proper x-ray equipment to detect lead on painted surfaces.
5. Does the home have asbestos?
Before 1990, asbestos was often used to insulate buildings. It can be found in everything from cement and plaster to house siding. If asbestos is found in your home, you’ll need a specialist to remove it, which will be costly.
The allure of an older home is undeniable. Before you make the purchase, however, it’s important to ask these essential questions.
Ready to find a home to call your own? Start your search for your dream older home with an online search tool like Calgary House Finder!