6 Items to consider when purchasing an older home.
Buying an older construction house can seem rather overwhelming; especially to a first-time home buyer. Inspection reports these days cover so many details that oftentimes, the buyer is left wondering what items should they be focusing on the most.
Big expensive items are usually the items my clients have a tendency to consider the most; and they generally fall within these six categories.
If it appears that there is need for foundation repair and it is only a few piers, it’s not something to be gravely concerned about. But if it appears to need extensive slab work and covers a large area, plumbing can be also be impacted. Extensive slab foundation work typically cause pipes running through the foundation to break and those will need repaired as well. All of that adds up and can be very expensive. Pier and beam houses do not have the same plumbing challenges so the foundation project is usually not as expensive.
The life expectancy of today’s roofs are about 20 – 30 years, depending on the quality of the roof. With Houston’s stormy weather, buyers need to know that any small amount of hail or wind damage can result in serious damage if unaddressed. Today's inspectors will look at the roof, either by crawling on it themselves or using drones. If a general inspector suspects there are issues with a roof; it is well worth the expense to hire a roof contractor to assess it.
The average life span of an HVAC is about 17 – 20 years. Something to consider when looking at an older HVAC is changing environmental code regulations. Many A/C units today still require R22 Refrigerant which is being phased out by the EPA. So, if a home has an A/C that requires that type refrigerant, it should be replaced. Replacing an old condenser may also require replacing the air handler inside the house. Depending on how old everything is, duct work might need replacing as well. All of this can add up quickly.
Older construction, such as pre 1950’s, could still have old knob and tube wiring as well as deteriorating metal pipes. If you are looking at construction from around the 60’s to early 70’s you might encounter aluminum wiring which has a life span of about 30 years. Some insurance companies won't insure homes with aluminum wiring. In addition, beware of electric panels that have been recalled, if the house has one of those, homeowner's insurance can be an issue.
If the home you're considering is on slab and has been around for a long time, you may consider a static plumbing test. The purpose of this is to ensure that there are no leaks in the drain pipes. Leaks can be an issue if water can get between the foundation and flooring as it will destroy the flooring. If the home you're purchasing has had foundation work, you definitely should have a static test. In addition to this, a camera test can be very helpful. The plumber will run the line through the drain pipes to ensure there's no damage from trees and roots and determine if the connection to the city line is in tact.
Houston has both subterranean and drywood termites; and they can do extensive damage to a home. A termite inspector can help you determine if a home has ever had them or if there is current activity. That is a must have inspection when purchasing an older home.
Talk to your Realtor and your inspector, they will be able to navigate you through these very important issues so you can purchase your home with peace of mind.