Questions To Ask Before Buying a Historic Home

Questions To Ask Before Buying a Historic Home

Questions To Ask Before Buying a Historic Home

Questions To Ask Before Buying a Historic Home


Historic homes are a great investment, but they can be more than you bargained for. Make sure to ask these questions before buying a historic home.


Scottsdale has been gracing Phoenix with its presence for over 120 years. Because of that, our neighborhood is home to some beautiful older homes, from Spanish villas to Frank Lloyd Wright’s gorgeous winter home, Taliesin West.

But as charming as older homes can be to look at, they can pose their own collection of challenges. That’s why it’s important to have a list of questions to ask before buying a historic home.

What Renovations Are Allowed?

In most cases, when you buy something, it’s yours. That usually means you can do whatever you want with it. But when your home is a certified “historic” property, you may need to adhere to some rules about how much you can change the home and property.

You typically aren’t banned from doing any renovation work on a historic home. However, local ordinances may bar certain exterior and interior changes to the home. Most communities—Scottsdale included—have an office of historic preservation that can offer guidance on what renovations are allowed.

How Old is the Electric Work?

Electricity first came to our area over a hundred years ago, and some homes’ electric work hasn’t changed much. While old wiring is usually still functional, it can become faulty when facing modern electrical needs. This can pose a fire hazard if you aren’t careful.

If you decide to buy a home with old wiring, you will likely have to rewire it. Unfortunately, this can be a tedious and expensive process that you will not be able to do yourself, so you will need to factor this into your budget.

What Kind of Pipes Does It Have?

Many cities’ sewer systems are much older than their citizens realize. Because of that, pipes in older homes can potentially be decades old. This can cause problems for homeowners because many older materials for pipes, such as cast iron or clay, can become brittle over time or be difficult to repair.

Additionally, some homes were built with lead pipes, which can lead to contaminated water. Knowing whether your home has lead pipes is essential to keeping you safe once you’ve purchased the home.

How Old Is the Paint?

Pipes aren’t the only area you might find lead in a historic home. Houses built before 1977 may have lead-based paint on the walls. Flaking lead paint and painting over lead paint can cause lead poisoning.

If you plan on changing the color of the walls, request a test for the walls. If the walls do have lead-based paint, you will need to call a specialist to remove the paint. You will also have to factor this into your budget.

Old homes are beautiful, but knowing the right questions to ask before buying a historic home will help you get the most out of your property.