Old homes are beautiful and charming but they can also be expensive to maintain.
If you’re thinking of buying an old house, you should definitely do your due diligence before making an offer so that you know what you’re getting into.
Here are 5 most important things you should be looking for when buying an old house:
1. Foundation Issues
This is the big one. It’s what most people think of when they think of old home problems.
In a nutshell, your house needs to be anchored to the ground in a way that will prevent it from moving during an earthquake or any other seismic event.
How do you know if your foundation has issues? Check for cracks in the foundation, especially around doors and windows.
If you see any, have a professional look at them to make sure they aren’t a sign of bigger structural problems lurking below.
Another thing to look for are signs of settling like uneven floors or walls, cracks in plaster walls and ceilings, bulges in interior walls and bowed exterior walls.
These can all be signs that your foundation is starting to fail and may soon need serious repairs or even replacement.
2. Structural Problems with the House Itself
Structural problems with the house itself can be just as bad as foundation problems but they’re easier to recognize because they’re often more obvious visually than foundation issues are.
For example, if you see sagging floor joists or beams that run parallel to each other (like ceiling joists) instead of perpendicular (like roof rafters), there’s likely something wrong with the frame of the building itself and it will probably need some work before you move in (or before you sell).
You’ll also want to check for bowing exterior walls; if any wall is bowed outwards by more than an inch or two it means there’s too much pressure on that wall and something has got to give – either the wall will need some serious bracing or it will need to come down entirely so that new framing can be installed properly.
This is why houses built on slab foundations are less likely to have structural problems since there’s no outward pressure on any part of the structure since nothing sits on top of it except whatever sits inside it (the structure itself).
Old houses built on pier foundations are particularly susceptible to structural issues because piers are not very strong structures themselves so houses built on them tend not to have strong frames either unless they’ve been reinforced over time by adding additional supports between piers or columns along load-bearing walls.
3. HVAC Issues
This one is a bit more specific but it’s still important to know about. Old houses were built before modern HVAC systems were invented so you can expect to find some HVAC issues in older homes.
For example, old furnaces and air conditioners are prone to inefficient operation which leads to higher energy bills than newer models would require.
The same goes for ductwork; older ducts are not as insulated as newer ones so they lose heat and coolness much faster than newer models do.
It’s better to get the HVAC system inspected by experienced HVAC technicians.
They know how to price HVAC jobs and will be able to give you a rundown of costs required to get the HVAC system in perfect condition again. This will help you budget your purchase overall.
4. Water Damage
Water damage can happen for many different reasons but here are three common ones: leaky plumbing, leaky roofs and leaky windows/doors/gutters/downspouts etc.
Leaky plumbing can happen anywhere water pipes enter or exit a house.
For example, if you see evidence of water damage in the ceiling directly over a bathtub or sink, that’s a sign that there’s a leaky joint between the plumbing and the wall.
Leaky roofs can happen anywhere there is an opening for rain to enter; this includes but is not limited to: roof valleys (the space between two rooflines), skylights, chimneys and vents.
If you see any evidence of water damage in these areas it could be a sign of leaking.
Leaky windows and doors are easy to spot because they often cause discoloration on walls and ceilings directly below them.
The same goes for leaky gutters and downspouts; if they’re leaking it will almost always result in discoloration on the exterior walls below them due to water seeping into cracks in the mortar joints.
Sometimes leaks can even occur inside your home when pipes burst or when pipes freeze and burst due to freezing temperatures outside.
5. Electrical Issues
Electrical issues can be tricky because there are so many different things that can go wrong with electrical systems in old houses.
One common problem is wiring that has been damaged by rodents chewing through insulation or by squirrels nesting inside wall cavities near electrical wires.
Rodents also like to chew their way through electrical wire insulation which results in exposed wires, sometimes at places where they shouldn’t be exposed like behind light switches or outlets or under stair risers where people may step on them accidentally while barefoot.
Another common issue is loose connections which cause lights to flicker or dim intermittently due to loose screws holding wires onto their sockets or switch plates.
Loose connections are usually easy to fix once you find them but if you have an older house with knob-and-tube wiring (which looks like this) then loose connections can cause fires since insulation around individual wires gets worn away over time which exposes live parts of the wire which should never be touched because they will likely shock whoever touches them!
Knob-and-tube wiring should always be replaced with modern wiring before being used again but it’s not always possible since some homes have been updated so much that all original wiring has been replaced already leaving no original wiring left behind for repair purposes (this happens more often than you’d think).
In other cases, homeowners opt against replacing knob-and-tube wiring because it’s just too expensive given how much work it involves – especially given that newer wiring uses plastic instead of cloth insulation making it more resistant to rodent damage and easier to fix when it does get damaged.
There are plenty of other issues that can come up when living in an old house: squeaky floors, leaky windows, bad paint jobs, uneven floors and ceilings, etc…
These aren’t really dealbreakers but they’re worth keeping an eye on because they can be expensive to fix (especially if you hire professionals).
Most of the time these kinds of problems can be fixed by homeowners themselves or with the help of friends or family who know how to fix things – like replacing a window pane – but sometimes it’s better just to replace something instead of trying to fix it since fixing it may cause more problems than it solves (like replacing a cracked window pane with another cracked window pane).