Common Hazards in Old Homes


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Do you prefer old style homes to newly built properties?

Many potential home owners have a strict criteria for what they want with a high priority often being an older style home. Whether it’s the sense of history, the charming design or the period features and character that this type of home offers, it’s always good to be aware that there are a few pitfalls to avoid if this is the option you’re going for.

We collaborated with a building inspections team to put together this article to provide an insightful overview of the hazards involved in purchasing an old home.

Inspections are Essential

It’s highly advisable to get a thorough property inspection carried out by a professional company with experience in the type of home that you are looking to buy. Long term experience with older homes will enable them to quickly spot any hidden problems and highlight potential safety issues that could arise.

Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of other properties that they have inspected to ensure they are fully trained in the type of home you are buying. Also, make sure that your inspector has building inspector insurance so you know that they are covered for any type of inproper advice they may give.

Potential Hazards

  • Radon is dangerous because it is both colourless and odourless. It can get into your home through cracks in the foundations or through windows and doors. You should double check with your property inspector that they will be carrying out a radon test. Don’t despair if high levels are found however as homes can be radon proofed with the appropriate sealing, ventilation or replacement of pipes.
  • Asbestos has become well known by name however few people understand how to figure out whether it may be in their home. As a material, it was used a lot as insulation many decades ago therefore older homes may still have substantial traces of it in the roof, sidings or pipework. You will need fully qualified professionals to deal with asbestos and should never touch it or breathe in the dust yourself.
  • Lead was widely used as the primary component of pipes before people became aware of the danger it could cause and switched over to zinc. If your old home does have lead pipes (or even copper piping with lead soldering), you will need to install a full filtration system or replace all of the pipes. 
  • Foundations really are the key to any home’s longevity so you’ll want to ensure that yours are in a good condition before purchasing an old home. It’s likely that cinder blocks and cement will have been used to make the foundations of your home – and sadly these materials inevitably crack and can soak up radon and water. This can mean that you need to install a drainage system that can be incredibly expensive so you’ll want to be aware of this long before you purchase the building. 
  • Wiring should always be high on your checklist when looking at a potential home. We have numerous electronic devices these days which may require far more power than the electricity box in an old home is able to give. It’s likely that you’ll need to consider rewiring your new home and consider adding in components such as a ground fault interrupter circuit or outlet.

There’s no denying that old homes possess a real charm and are often the right purchase option for home buyers – however it’s always best to be fully aware of any potential pitfalls that your building is susceptible too, and the full costs involved in maintaining an old home.

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