Buying an old house. What surprises can await?

Old houses have a special and unique charm that can enchant many future homeowners. Perhaps you have always dreamed of owning a Victorian-style home, or perhaps you have been fascinated by a charming stone country house. In addition, it seems to you that your dream will soon come true and you will become the owner of a beautiful old house. We sincerely hope that this will happen. However, so that your dream does not turn into a nightmare and an endless waste of money on repairs and restoration, we want to draw your attention to some points that can be really important when buying an old house.

According to open source statistics, about 15 percent of private homes in the United States were built before 1940, which means that they are already over a century old. Such houses, in most cases, are characterized by hidden dangers to the budget of future owners, which are not so easy to notice without a special inspection. Therefore, in this article we will consider a list of such problems.

What not to be afraid of

When buying an old house, some potential buyers may be wary of the dilapidation of the house, namely its basic structures – the foundation, floor, ceiling and walls. However, it is worth noting that in most cases such fears are groundless. In fact, everything is quite the opposite. Houses that were built 80, 90 or even 100 years ago can be much stronger than new, newly built houses. It is all about ventilation and materials. Firstly, a large amount of wood was used in old houses, which makes them quite durable and environmentally friendly. Secondly, it is necessary to remember about drafts, which are not uncommon in old houses. Yes, drafts can be a nuisance and cause high utility and heating bills. Nevertheless, it is thanks to good ventilation that the walls in old houses are much less prone to rotting. The walls in new houses are airtight and do not allow moisture to pass through, therefore, from the point of view of resistance and durability, well-dried walls due to a draft in old houses have an advantage.


As we wrote above, most of the threats to your budget in old houses are hidden from view. In addition, plumbing is just one of the main such dangers. In old houses, gutters and pipes are made of galvanized steel, which means they are prone to corrosion. Over time, such pipes can completely lose their functionality. You should pay attention to the pipes before buying an old house and maybe even turn to a specialist who, thanks to special equipment, will be able to examine the condition of the pipes that are buried underground. Believe me, paying such a specialist for an inspection will be much cheaper than digging up an ancient rusty pipe that was installed before the Great Depression. We also advise you to check the pipe system that leads from your possible home to the central sewer. These pipes could be damaged, and to replace them you will have to dig up half the site and possibly even the streets. And this is a very expensive project.

Old plumbing can create a lot of problems

Electrical wiring

Electrical wiring can be another nightmare for the future owner of an old house. Old-fashioned wiring differs significantly from modern wiring, at least in that the old system does not have a ground wire, so if overloaded, such wiring can overheat and cause a fire. Therefore, the old wiring system definitely needs to be checked by a knowledgeable expert. However, in this case, it is worth noting that the old electrical wiring is not so terrible because of its age, as amateur modifications from previous owners can be dangerous. Indeed, such inept wiring improvements can result in irreparable damage to the entire electrical network of the house, and replacing all the wiring can be very expensive. Therefore, this aspect is definitely worth paying attention to.


Chimneys are one of the most charming components in old homes. Chimneys in old houses were made of stone or brick with the help of cement. Under the influence of water and time, the chimney could be significantly damaged. The chimney should be examined both from the outside and from the inside. Moreover, the internal study of the chimney is more important, usually it is carried out by a professional using a special camera. Why is an internal inspection of chimneys so important? Because an external chimney repair can cost you $1,000 or $1,500, but a chimney repair from the inside, if damaged, can cost you much more – $20,000 or even $25,000. Therefore, it is worth taking this issue seriously.

Hazardous materials

Old houses can also be built with materials that are hazardous to human health or the environment. The fact is that when they were built there were no such standards and restrictions in construction that exist now. For example, the pipeline in such a house can be made not of galvanized steel, but of lead. And as many people know, this material can cause significant harm to health. Thus, as a new homeowner, you will have to change the entire plumbing system, which is very expensive.

Also, in old houses, they used to use insulation, which in its composition won asbestos. I think you have heard more than once about the dangers of this substance for health and its harmful effect on the human respiratory system. First of all, you need to hire a specialist who can identify asbestos. Then it will be necessary to hire another contractor who can remove the identified asbestos. It should be noted that the process of removing asbestos is quite expensive. Therefore, you should think twice before buying a house where asbestos has been found. Moreover, it is categorically not recommended to ignore this problem.


Of course, old houses can attract you with their charm, historical aura, pleasant atmosphere or good price. But before you buy such a house, you should responsibly conduct a survey of a possible purchase, even if it costs you extra money. It is better to spend money on specialists and avoid buying an old house, the renovation of which will cost you as much as two new houses. But you should not be afraid to buy old houses, because they are so attractive. Just approach the issue of buying an old house with the right level of care and we are confident that you will be able to find the perfect home for you.

It’s too early to relax on this! New challenges may await you, for example, in the basement!

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