Buying an old house can carry a lot of charm and character. But those unique features can come with some problems. If you’re interested in buying an old house keep in mind that you may end up spending a little more money long term than just your initial listing price. Here are some of the issues you may run into and need to look out for when buying an old house. 

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7 Things to Pay Attention to When Buying an Old House

Mold and Asbestos 

There is a greater chance of older homes having mold issues, specifically asbestos. Before purchasing an old house you must request a home inspection to detect any potential issues with the home such as mold or other infestations. 

While most molds are relatively easy to treat, the dreaded asbestos can be incredibly problematic and expensive to remove. Dealing with this carcinogenic can cause serious health issues and has a strong link to cancer. 

Removing asbestos needs to be professionally done. The entire infected area needs to be sealed off while professionals set about  

Water Damage 

Mold is usually a sign of water damage and is usually a cause of poor insulation or ventilation. Check around any windows, door frames, and in bathrooms to see if any moisture can be detected. For the windows check both insides and outside to ensure they’ve been properly protected from the elements. 

Previous Renovations  

Old homes have likely changed ownership many times over the years and may have undergone several different renovations in an effort to bring the house up to date. It’s not uncommon for smaller older homes to have acquired an extension since being built. The problem is, not all renovations are done up to code. If you’re buying an old home make sure to have an inspection done that can highlight any recent renovations and ensure that those renovations are up to code and industry standards. Some of the incomplete renovations could include, poor insulations, improper weight distribution, water leakage, and fire hazards. 

It might cost you more money, in the long run, to tear down previous renovations in order to redo them up to proper standards. 

Additionally, if you bought a heritage or historic home, prepare to answer to a heritage committee. Historical homes are typically protected from an extensive renovation or being torn down in order to keep their historical value and relevance. Anything from appropriate paint colors, to the style of windows and new fencing, would need to be approved by a historical committee in order to ensure the proper historical character and integrity of the home remains intact. 

Lead paint 

One of the reasons older homes are known for having more problems is because they were built at a time that had different industry standards in place. Lead paint was widely used in homes in the twentieth century but was restricted in Canada by 1976 and banned in America by 1978. The leading cause was that the chemicals in lead paint could lead to neurological problems in children. It’s important to note that lead paint is especially dangerous when it begins to chip or peel because it is then more likely to become inhaled and pose a health hazard. 

If you purchase an old home that contains lead paint, hire professionals to remove it safely and effectively. Removing lead paint can be a lengthy process, the removal site needs to be isolated, all furniture removed or covered. Using a chemical peeler is the recommended way to remove the paint. Do not use sanders, heat guns, or blow lamps as these can create more lead particles to inhale. 

Lead plumbing can also be an issue in your home, and while might not need immediate repair, it can allow for lead to leach into your water supply down the road. 

Old Electrical Wiring 

The electrical circuit of the house is most likely another area that was designed according to older standards. Additionally, there might be fewer power outlets in the home so you may need to add more circuits in order to bring the home up to modern-day standards and needs.  Additionally out of date or deteriorating electrical wiring may mean the house can’t support modern appliances. To avoid a short circuit, make sure to check if the electrical writing needs to be replaced. 


Cracks in walls and the floor can be a clue to larger issues. Keep an eye out for cracks as they could signify water damage or foundation issues. Additionally, uneven floors might be caused by a shifting foundation. If you notice even a slight slant in the home as you’re walking through the property ask an inspector to take a look at the foundation for any serious issues. Foundation repair can be incredibly costly. 

Fixer-uppers and Resale value 

Non-historical older homes can turn into great fixer-uppers. You can find cheaper older homes and with a little extra cash can turn them into a luxurious, personalized home for your family. On top of making your home uniquely yours, the extra renovations will provide great resale value for down the road should you choose to sell or if you’re in the business of flipping homes, fixer-uppers are a great quick return on your investment. 

Buying an old house vs a new house

The process for buying an older, resale home versus a newer, custom-built home varies drastically, specifically with the payment process. Buying new construction, especially pre-construction homes, requires a staggered payment process as opposed to resale homes that require the listing price, and the ability to close on the agreed-upon offer amount.  

A new house may have fewer renovation requirements and fewer headaches but generally are designed according to a specific neighborhood floorplan, meaning they lose their individuality.

While with an older home you may encounter extra renovation costs, you do have the ability to own a home with its own unique charm and history. You can have a house that speaks more to your personality and taste than a typical “cookie-cutter” house.

While an older home may come with some extra work, that shouldn’t perturb you from purchasing a house you absolutely love. The key point to remember when buying an old home is to have a thorough home inspection completed as part of your conditional sale offer. Many of the older aspects of the home will be hidden from plain sight, so make sure to have components such as plumbing, electrical, and paint quality to make sure the house is up to current health and building codes. 

Newer construction homes may come with less trouble, but they often lack the individuality and charm that some home buyers look for. Put your own stamp of individuality on your home, just make sure that you have budgeted enough for any surprise expenses after moving in.