Things To Look Out For When You’re Buying an Old House

Things To Look Out For When You’re Buying an Old House


Older homes come with plenty of perks, such as the stylish, vintage appearance and the affordability. Unfortunately, purchasing an older piece of property comes with its downsides, too. Some common outdated building practices involved materials that are hazardous to your health, and wear and tear through the years can lead to degraded foundations, brick, and siding. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a home that needs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repair and maintenance. This list of things to look out for when you’re buying an old house will guide you in your home search and allow you to purchase a home that’s safe for you and your family to live in.


Asbestos is a useful flame retardant, which made it a popular building material for older homes. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that people discovered that the material’s barbed fibers could lodge in the lining of the lungs and cause cancer when inhaled. The EPA banned the use of asbestos in building materials, but not until 1989. Therefore, if a home you’re interested in was built before 1989, you should have it inspected and tested for asbestos.

A lot of older homes have had the asbestos removed and replaced with safer materials, but others haven’t. If the asbestos has been left undetected, it could cause health problems for you, your family members, and anyone else who visits the home. Since the cost of removing and replacing asbestos can be high, it’s important to test for it before you make the final decision to purchase the home.

Lead Paint

Another thing to look out for when you’re buying an old house is lead paint. As long as it’s not flaking, peeling, or chalking, lead paint isn’t much of a danger. But eventually, all paint will start to flake, peel, or chalk—and when that happens, lead paint can pose a serious risk to your and your family’s health. Lead paint is especially dangerous to small children and pets, who are known for putting things they shouldn’t into their mouths. When consumed, lead can cause physical, mental, and behavioral problems and, in serious cases, lead to death.

Like asbestos, lead paint is expensive to remove. The average removal project will set you back about $10,000, but depending on your home’s square footage, it can cost a little less or a little more.

Foundation Problems

Things tend to wear down over time. The foundation of an older home might be cracked, leaning, sunken, or otherwise damaged, which can compromise the entire home’s structural integrity. Not all damage is equal. An inspector should be able to tell you if the damage is normal or if it requires repair. A few settlement cracks might be nothing to worry about, but a foundation that’s visibly sinking is.

Problems with the sill plate are more common than foundation issues. Over time, the sills of a home will become susceptible to water, insects, and other external elements. Damaged sills can be fixed, but it might require jacking up the home. This can cause damage to the home’s walls if it isn’t done carefully.