Yesterday we talked about the Pros of buying an old home. Is it still something you think you would like to do? How old are you thinking? Perhaps even something old enough to be historic? It’s a good idea to carefully evaluate the pros and cons before you decide. There are plenty of both. Will the pros be valuable enough for you to be willing to cope with the cons? Let’s talk about what some of those cons are and then you can decide.

  1. Outdated features. An older home may come with aging appliances and a heating and air conditioning system that lacks energy efficiency in a very big way. The result? Higher utility bills for you. You may also find yourself grappling with unreliable plumbing, which could substantially impact your quality of life.
  2. Safety concerns. An older home might lack features that make it a safer place to live. For example, outdated electrical wiring could constitute a fire hazard. And while that’s bad by itself, it could also result in higher homeowners insurance premiums for you.
  3. Aesthetic issues. An older home might feature lime green cabinetry, mauve carpeting, and wallpaper that makes you want to scream. And while aesthetic issues are usually fairly inexpensive to address, they could still be a hassle to deal with after you move in.
  4. A closed-off floor plan. Newer homes tend to feature open floor plans that give a roomier impression. Older houses, by contrast, tend to have more defined spaces. That’s a good thing if it aligns with your style, but a bad thing in that it often makes a house seem more cramped.
  5. Trouble with resale. Many buyers today prefer newer houses. If you buy an older home, you may have trouble unloading it when you find yourself ready to sell.

Problems to look for when buying an old house

Though some renovations may be in order when you buy an older house, what you don’t want is to end up with a money pit on your hands. As such, before buying an older house, make sure it goes through a thorough inspection that you attend so you can get a sense of what you’re signing up for. Here are a few specific red flags to look out for:

  1. An outdated electrical setup. Knob-and-tube wiring may have been the standard back in the day, but it’s not really geared for homes with the many electrical appliances you’ll find in modern properties. As such, a knob-and-tube system can become overheated and over-engaged, resulting in poor performance, or worse yet, a fire hazard. Similarly, look out for ungrounded outlets, which have a tendency to spark and pose the risk of electrical shock.
  2. Water damage. Older pipes are more likely to rust or burst than newer pipes. Check for signs of water damage (like stained ceilings) before buying an older home, since it can be difficult and costly to fix.
  3. Poor water pressure. Imagine cursing your way through your morning shower every day because your home’s plumbing just isn’t up to par. Make sure you’re not dealing with a dated setup that results in that sort of unpleasantness.
  4. Asbestos. Asbestos has been linked to dangerous health issues, so make sure it’s not lurking in your home’s basement or anywhere else. Mitigation can be extremely expensive.
  5. Lead paint. Lead paint is another health hazard you’ll want to avoid if you’re looking at an older home. Your inspector should have a test kit that checks for it.
  6. Foundation issues. Over time, an older house can increasingly succumb to water damage, termites, and other issues that impact its structural integrity. And these issues can be very expensive to repair, sometimes requiring the help of a structural engineer to implement a fix.