Over 38% of homes in the U.S. were built before 1970, but in some parts of the country, the average age of homes is more than 50 years old. That said, if you’re on a home-buying project, chances are you’d find an old or even a historic property in the market.
A historic house can be a good purchase, considering its rich background and interesting architectural details that you would no longer see in most modern homes today. In addition, it could be a profitable investment when renovated and re-listed in the market for a much higher price later. But what are the issues you’d typically find in historic homes that need urgent fixes?
Here are some common structural and cleanliness issues and the ways to resolve them:
1. Structural Damage
Cracks are what you’d probably notice first when you look at the exterior and interiors of a historic house. They are a product of prolonged exposure to the elements and abandonment. If neglected further, they’ll become more severe or multiply.
To address this problem, have a team of professionals to inspect the home with you, such as a historian or a contractor and a home inspector. The historian or contractor should specialize in restoring old houses so that they could recommend procedures for fixing the damages. The inspector, on the other hand, will help in spotting issues that you may have missed.
Inform your insurance company next, and they will investigate the damages further. Fix the structural damages one at a time to avoid exhausting your budget. A full renovation isn’t always necessary. You can simply replace old and rotting structures with high-quality materials, and preserve the house’s historic layout.
2. Dirt and Dangerous Pollutants
Pests, mold, mildew, and harmful pollutants have surely plagued the house while it was unoccupied. If the problem isn’t that severe, you can perform deep cleaning by yourself, using strong disinfectants to kill all bacteria and drive away pests. Dangerous pollutants, however, such as radon, is a gas and thus unseen. It’s harmless in small amounts, but prolonged exposure may heighten your risk of developing lung cancer, so it must be eliminated immediately.
Sealing foundation cracks, installing depressurization vents, and a radon mitigation system can fix this problem. As for the rest of the house’s severe untidiness, especially on the windows and other high parts, consider hiring an efficient pressure washing service in Seattle or any other area. Their heavy-duty cleaning equipment definitely speeds up the cleaning process, leaving you with only a little to work on afterwards.
3. Plumbing Issues
Plumbing issues are usually the cause of structural damages. Ask the previous owner of the house how old its plumbing system is. Brass and copper pipes may last 50 years or more, while steel pipes last only about 20. PEX is another long-lasting material, with a useful life of 40-50 years.
An old house’s pipes may also be made of polybutylene, which corrodes from the chlorine that are found in bleach and other cleaning agents. But regardless of the pipe’s material, if there are severe leaks that cause serious water and structural damages, save for a full system replacement. In the case of the polybutylene pipes, though, you can ask the seller to pay for and install a new system.
These common maintenance issues tend to be a strain on your pocket, so be careful and meticulous before buying a historic house. Be sure that you’re entirely willing to carry the burden of revamping it because it will take a hefty amount of work before it restores its former glory.