Buying an older home can be a very rewarding experience. The architecture is unique, the rooms have character, and it feels more like a home than a brand new, prefabricated home that was built in a development. But, there are quite a few things to keep in mind when buying a house that is 50 years old or more – from what construction materials were used to how it was maintained for the last 50 years.
Possible Safety Issues
Because the dangers of lead paint and asbestos were not yet understood in the 1950s and ’60s, you should always have your home thoroughly inspected for both before buying. The risk of either being in a 50 year old home is high unless someone has gone to the trouble of removing them in a remodel. Even then, older insulation, hidden paint layers or other construction decisions can be potentially dangerous, especially if you have children.
Not that you should avoid an older home solely for this reason. There are plenty of homes that have been made livable again with a little hard work – it’s just important that you know about it before investing so much money.
Another thing to consider is the upkeep of the house. A 50 year old home has been lived in for many years. That means there have been multiple furnaces and air conditioners, replacements of windows, new roofs put in and much more. How well and how often those things were done will play a major role in determining how good of condition the house is in.
If you buy a 50 year old home and the roof and furnace need to be replaced, that’s another 5 figure investment to update your living space.
Other things you should be on the lookout for are old appliances like your refrigerator and stove, as well as the gas lines and electrical. Your panel box may be outdated, as may your electrical lines and outlets. These are all things that get updated eventually, but a home built 50 years ago would be both unsafe and outdated by today’s standards.
More than anything, when buying an old home, the most important thing is the condition. Age has very little to do with how livable a home is. Some people live comfortably in homes that are 200 years old. Others must have 10 year old homes completely remodeled. It’s all about how the home is maintained and cared for.