The top five problems with older houses and how to fix them

Things to look out for when buying an older home

There is a certain romance about an older home. Often, older houses are more aesthetically pleasing with larger gardens and more striking architectural features – features we simply don’t see in modern housing.

Unfortunately, that’s where the romanticism often ends. Older homes frequently present significant problems – and the older the house, the more likely these problems are to appear.

When buying an older home, you should look out for the following five tell-tale problematic signs.

Pest control and termites

Another extremely common problem with older houses can be infestations of pests and termites. In particular, termites can devastate the structure of a home, attacking structural supports, drywall, and floors.

Signs of termite damage include sagging floorboards, bubbling paint, and hollow-sounding wood. You should get your property thoroughly inspected by a pest control expert like Pest Control Durbanville, who will do a rigorous check of your whole property and offer repair solutions.

Problems with foundations

Problems with a home’s foundations are possibly the most common – and most significant issue you’re likely to find. As the name suggests, foundations are the building blocks upon which the entire house is constructed, and problems in this area can end up extremely expensive and difficult to fix.

Foundation issues can be caused by normal wear and tear (i.e., the building naturally aging) but are often the sign of something more significant, e.g., tree roots, seismic activity, or even ground sinkage.

Common signs of foundation problems include interior and exterior wall cracks, doors that can’t be shut fully, uneven or sloped floors, and windows that are a struggle to open.

Foundation repairs are not the kind of work most people can take on themselves. To get them fixed, you will need the help of a structural engineer. A word of warning – in most cases, you should be prepared for a fairly hefty price tag.

Plumbing and electrics issues

Almost without exception, if you move into an older home, you will be faced with electrical and plumbing issues. Electrics are maybe the more worrying because of the risk of death or fire; however, don’t discount plumbing issues. Problems with plumbing can cause water damage and end up extremely costly too.

Signs of electrical problems include power outages, flickering lights, and old-style sockets. Also, check for warmth around switches or power outlets – another sign of problem electric.

Signs of plumbing problems include low water pressure, evidence of leakage, and slowly draining water from tubs, sinks, or showers. Also bear in mind, lead piping was extremely common in older buildings and will need to be replaced completely.

In both cases – plumbing and electric – repair work will be beyond the skills of most people, and you may well face a large contractor’s bill to get them fixed.

Hazardous materials

Lead and asbestos were extensively used in housebuilding until fairly recently, and you’ll find both in most older homes.

As well as lead piping, you should also be aware lead-based paints were common in houses built before 1980. As for asbestos, its use was wide-spread for house insulation and fireproofing in pre-1970s builds.

Lead, and asbestos removal requires trained professionals. Asbestos removal is particularly dangerous and should not be undertaken without the proper equipment and skills.

Mold and mildew

Of all the problems listed above, mold and mildew are probably the least pressing and easiest to fix. That said, mold can cause breathing difficulties, particularly in children, so it should not be left untreated. Mold won’t simply disappear on its own and, if left to manifest, can severely affect the structural integrity of a building.

Prevention tends to be the best cure for mildew, so consider investing in a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air and treat small problems with mold-removal sprays. In more serious or larger infestations, you may well need to bring in a professional though most mold problems are relatively easy to treat.

[All images were downloaded from unsplash]