Buying an older home

old houseMagnifying glass

It may seem like everything in modern life is about the latest and greatest, but sometimes you can't beat the charm and craftsmanship of something from the past. When it comes to purchasing a property, newer isn't always better, and at the end of the day, mortgage rates and home loans take a back seat when a buyer falls in love with a house. However, deciding on an older home means taking the property's unique characteristics into account. Older properties can present certain challenges not found in newly constructed homes, meaning home buyers need to fully understand what they're getting into.

Foundation
A solid foundation is vital to any property, and older homes may be more vulnerable to foundation issues. While the architecture or location of an older home may be what draws you to it, determining the condition of its foundation should be the No. 1 priority. Foundation problems are very costly to fix, so checking for signs of cracking or shifting is essential. Hiring a professional home inspector should be a part of any home buying process, but it's especially important for older homes, as they have the expertise necessary to find any problems with a property's foundation. If an older property does have foundation issues, it's probably in your best interest to move on.

Roof
After a home's foundation, the roof is the most important part of a home. It keeps the elements out and a home's inhabitants safe. An older home has likely had its roof repaired a number of times over the years, meaning different additions and materials. Home buyers should make sure the roof is in working condition and take any repair costs into account before deciding on a property.

Wiring
From TVs to microwaves, homes run on electricity. Depending on the age of a home, it may have knob and tube wiring that was installed when electricity first became a regular feature of residential properties. It's important for home buyers to find out the wiring situation of an older home, as well as how it has aged. Wear and tear over the years may have left an older property's wiring faulty or even dangerous. Once again, this is a situation in which a professional inspector should be employed to allay any worries. 

Plumbing
Much like wiring, the plumbing of an older home can be a hodgepodge of older materials and outdated fixtures. This may result in the need for renovations and replacement, something that can be a costly matter, especially for Canadians who have just bought a home. Home buyers should find out what types of piping and fixtures a property contains and if they need to be replaced.

Heating
It's important to find out exactly how an older home is heated. Does it depend on radiators? How much extra will that cost to stay warm in the winter? If it has a furnace, what kind of condition is it in? How much will it cost to replace? Heating is an important part of any Canadian home, so an older property's heating system should be taken into account.

Safety
Building codes and requirements have changed much over the years, meaning home buyers should take the time to ensure an older property's safety requirements are up to date. Is asbestos or lead an issue? Does the home feature smoke or carbon monoxide detectors? Is the construction sturdy? These are all questions that need to be answered.

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