Buying an Old House? What to Look For

by Del Fava | Parker 03/08/2020

Photo by Wulfman65 via Shutterstock

When you’re thinking about purchasing a home, an old house versus that new one is something to ponder. If you’ve thought about buying an older home, consider each of these areas before making an offer. Have your agent write contingencies into your contract, and by all means, don’t forego an inspection.

Consider HazMat

Say what? A lot of folks don’t realize that over the years, materials routinely used in homebuilding fall out of favor and become potential issues when you decide to renovate or remodel your older home. Some examples of hazardous materials are:

  • Lead pipes. Once used for standard plumbing, even sealed lead pipes can eventually allow toxic lead to leach into your water. Replacing all the plumbing in your home is an extensive and expensive process entailing removing floors and walls, tearing out concrete, and digging up landscaping. Before making an offer, have the water tested for lead.
  • Lead pipes aren’t the only problem. Older homes often have lead paint as well. Although it may be painted over with a non-hazardous paint, if paints chip and reveal the older materials, you might be exposed to higher concentrations of lead than you realize.
  • Asbestos. Homes built before the 1980s often had asbestos in the ceiling texture and insulation. Removing asbestos is an expensive side cost to any renovation. In addition to interior asbestos, many homes have asbestos siding and roofing materials that require HazMat removal as well. If the existing materials remain in place, there’s no law against them, but if you disturb them to install an addition or reface your home, they require proper mitigation.

Structural Challenges

A common issue with older homes is damage to the foundation from years of shifting ground, water seepage and expansion, and improper additions. When more weight sits on a home, from a new roof installed over the top of the old one, for example, the extra weight puts stress on bearing walls and the foundation. Footers exposed to erosion from running water might not continue to carry that weight. You won’t notice it at first, but eventually, you’ll find yourself repairing cracks in the plaster more frequently. An experienced home inspector will detect potential problems, so pay attention to the inspector’s report about potential, future issues with a home.

Lastly, older homes have long-term exposure to pests. Termites, carpenter ants, and other wood-damaging pests can hide their damage from you, but an inspector knows where to look. Along with disclosure of asbestos and lead issues, insist on pest control mitigation in your contract for an older home. Let your agent know how old a home you’re willing to purchase to avoid these issues.

About the Author
Author

Del Fava | Parker

  

Doug was born and raised in Sonoma County with over 40 years in the real estate business; a well-connected, down-to-earth “people” person; devotes a great deal of time to working with both buyers and sellers in person.

Shannon has many years in business organization and administration; with over 15 years in the real estate industry; strength is in marketing properties and follow-up; devotes a great deal of time to the “behind the scenes” logistic work.

As a team we represent two strong elements of personal contact and business effectiveness. We have perfected aggressive networking and marketing systems which attract clients locally, nationally and throughout the world. These elements are expected by consumers in today’s fast-paced, high tech, and competitive marketplace.

We have successfully represented buyers and sellers of luxury estate, ranch, vineyards, investment, commercial and residential properties throughout Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties for over forty years. We have invested time and money to establish a long-term position in the real estate industry; emphasizing an honest, hard-working, straightforward business approach. We have developed a system of working together that offers our clients comprehensive and personalized service along with negotiating techniques that consistently result in a win/win situation for everyone.

Consistently recognized as industry leaders, we passionately believe that contributing time and expertise to the community has enhanced their continued success and recognition as experts within the real estate community.

At W Real Estate, our clients and their goals are our first priority, without compromise. Whether buying or selling, our network is far reaching, and we ensure each and every client is completely satisfied. This is our commitment to you and our community.

We not only work here, we live and play here. We are proud of our community, and we know it like no other--the people, the locations, what sets them apart. And this is what sets us apart.

W Real Estate is Sonoma County's top real estate brokerage, year after year. Our agents consistently rank in the top 1% of all agents in Sonoma County, and sell properties at a higher value than our competitors. When you hire a W Real Estate agent, you hire a team of exceptional real estate professionals. Not only will you receive the best real estate advice and outcome with your chose agent, but you will also benefit from a full-time marketing expert, a dedicated listing manager to coordinate the logistics of prepping and showing your home, and a highly skilled transaction coordinator to manage the complicated paperwork, just to name a few. We're here for you - all of us.