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7 Common Challenges Faced When Renovating an Older Homes

Many people buy older homes because they can get them for a much lower price than one that was built within the last 20 years. However, these older homes often come with many problems that need to be addressed. The reason they are so much less expensive is because they are likely to need a lot of renovation work.

For those who are thinking about buying an older home to fix up and sell for a profit, or even those who are just looking to save some cash on the place they want to fix up and call home, they need to be aware of the things they should look out for. Finding a home for a price that may seem too good to be true is a good thing, but there’s always a reason why it’s priced so low. It may end up being above your budget if the home is going to require more than $100,000 in work just to make it livable.

Be Thorough When Buying Or Rennovating A Home

Those who are going to purchase an older home in the future need to be on the lookout for many things – but what should they be looking for? Investing in a professional inspection service is a must before purchase, but it can be hard to find a trustworthy inspector. In Canada, home inspection is an unregulated industry, which means anyone can call themselves an inspector and set up shop (though informal organizations exist to try and connect qualified inspectors). Beyond looking for a person or company with (an informal) association-recognized certification and insurance, potential homeowners should accompany them on the inspection, making sure they have checked and identified problems with the following items that have a high frequency of being inadequate in older homes:

  • Roofing

The inside of the attic and the top of a roof should be inspected in order to figure out what kind of shape it’s in. If the roof is falling apart or water is getting in the home in more than one or two areas, it can be assumed that it is not a simple repair and an entire new roof may be required.

  • Windows

Windows are one of the most important parts of a home, both practically and esthetically, and if they are out of date or damaged, they are going to need replacing. Old windows decrease the energy efficiency of the home, increase draftiness and are susceptible to leaks and water damage, such as mould or rot. You can request the price of new, energy efficient windows be deducted from the sales price if they fail the inspection, which would allow you to upgrade to a more modern solution, such as vinyl.

  • Doors

Doors, both entry way, side and patio, are a crucial part of the home as they have both a security and temperature control function. They keep intruders out and also keep the seasonal elements from getting in. If they are in bad shape, they are more likely going to be a drain on your energy bill and much easier to breach. The cost of updating them for more secure and energy efficient entryways, including proper installation, must be accounted for.

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  • Foundation

The foundation of a home is overall one of the most crucial and potentially expensive parts of an older home. If the foundation is not up to code, draining water properly, or crumbling, it may need to be entirely re-dug and poured which can eat up a significant amount of any renovation budget, no matter how large it is. A professional inspector should be able to answer any of a potential buyer’s questions about defects located and recommend a foundation expert, should one be needed.

  • Electrical

If the electrical system and wiring in the home is not up to current code it is considered a safety concern and is required by law to be replaced. It could cost a healthy amount of the budget to hire an electrician to rewire the entire home, so it is important to be aware of before purchase.

  • Plumbing

Older homes – a large number of homes that were built pre-WWII and some that were constructed prior to the mid-1980’s – contain lead in their water pipes that would necessitate a filtration system to be installed or the whole system to be replaced. Beyond this, the materials used also need to be examined – different materials have a different use-life; for example, steel pipes only last approximately 20 years, and pipes made of certain plastics break down with exposure to chemicals found in typical household cleaners. The length of time you will get use out of the system and the cost to upgrade or repair will be a major factor.

  • Furnaces and Air Conditioning

If the units in the home are older than 10 years, it is safe to say the home will need new units in the near future. Also, the energy efficiency of the units should be examined so the potential homeowner can make a good estimation of the home’s energy use on a monthly basis. Any energy saved by installing new windows and doors can be negated by inefficient, aged units.

Making a Smart Decision

To make a smart decision, all of the above issues will have to be weighed and measured – the costs of repairs versus the savings on the older home. A qualified inspector can help you identify these problem spots, and sometimes a good real estate agent can negotiate down the home’s price if the cost of repairs will be significant. Homeowners should evaluate the purchase much in the same way established house flippers might, whether the combined investment of money, time, and effort pushes the price out of their budget range, or if the investment will rather provide a greater return on investment in the future.

 

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Many people buy older homes because they can get them for a much lower price than one that was built within the last 20 years. However, these older homes often come with many problems that need to be addressed. The reason they are so much less expensive is because they are likely to need a lot of renovation work.

 

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