Many people think that when buying a piece of real estate once you have a great location it is done deal but that is only one half of the equation. Many of the homes on the market today were built 30-40-50 even 60 years ago or even more. Buying an older home can be inexpensive but there are things that you should look for when attempting to purchase an older home.
You are probably already aware that you will ultimately have to have the house inspected to make sure it will pass your local building codes but there are definitely things you can look for on your own to help you to narrow down the choices for your self. Paying for an inspection on several homes while shopping would not be wise so making sure you would not have to sink a lot extra cash into the home to make it livable is an important step.
The first thing you want to make certain of is the structure. This means checking the walls, foundation, ceiling, roofs, floors, attics and crawlspaces. What are you looking for? Well for one thing you want to check for water penetration. If the house is made of stucco or has aluminium siding you have to make sure the foundation is visible for at least 8 inches before it enters the ground. If it is brick 6 inches are good enough.
If you find the floor joists have been damaged or altered in any way it is probably a unit you should pass on. You want to make sure there is nothing like warping of the floor boards, dry rot, bulging of ceiling panels or structural cracks. If a home exhibits any of these signs it doesn't necessarily mean that it is a lost cause but it may mean the difference in what it is reasonable to expect to invest in the home.
The heating system is another area tat you should pay close attention to. This is one o f the important elements in the home it is literally the heartbeat of the house. Check the entire system, from the boiler/furnace, flutes and vents, ductwork and safety features. You really want to check for signs of general neglect. The degree of neglect that is acceptable is determined by the years the home has been left vacant.
Obviously if you are contemplating a home that has been vacant for 10/20/30 years or more you would not expect it to be as kept up as one that has only bee vacant a few years. For the heating system if the filter and cabinet is excessively dirty and the house hasn't been empty for a long time this is a sure sign of neglect. Make certain that burners work and that there is convenient and sufficient combustible air for the furnace to operate properly. If it is really old you may even have leaks.
The roof is another area that is really a cash drainer if you aren't careful. Check for leaks, what it is made of, if there is an attic check that it is properly ventilated. Missing and damaged shingles are the really obvious stuff but you really should look deeper. Drain spouts and flashings have to be in good order. Upper and lower drains in good repair and the down spouts should extend 6feet from the foundation of the house.
You could spend thousands on all of these and there is still more that needs to be considered. Like cooling systems a lot of older homes do not even have them. Are you content to install window units or would you have to install central air and heating. This alone could add several thousand dollars to the overall price of the home. Even if the system is there it may be that it is so old that you have to replace it anyway.
Electrical works can be a very big problem for a new homeowner. This could be not only and expensive fix but also a hazard to your family’s safety. One of the biggest things to look out for is any area that looks like the previous owner might have tried to effect repairs on their own. When many of the older homes were built long before some of the newer building codes were put into place.
The insulation on these older homes are most likely non-existent, many have single pane windows and if there is insulation it could be asbestos. This would precipitate a very costly removal project that has to be performed by a hazard team. The wiring is certainly not going to be 220 in most cases and this is what most of the gadgetry that we use to day require. A good indicator that the home has been upgraded in its wiring is the three pronged wall sockets, but even then it is no guarantee.
The most expensive rooms to renovate or to upgrade will definitely be the kitchen and the bath. The condition of the plumbing can make or break a deal. Look for outdated pipes, leaking faucets, cracked fixtures and clogged drains. This is the time you will want to ay close attention to ceilings and floors, if there is a second level, water damage is can be a big and expensive problem. If the home has lead or steel supply pipes lading to the house this too can be an issue.
Sure you have dreams of the beauty the home could have if it is fully restored but older homes can cost a lot more than the asking price. These homes will have to be brought up to code by either the seller or the buyer, either way the price of the home will ultimately increase. Buying an older home can be a dream come true, some people fall in love with eh architecture of the home or the location but if you decide to buy one remember that renovations take a lot of time and money.
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