10 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD NOT ASK BEFORE YOU BUY AN OLDER HOME
“Unless you want to make sure that you’re making the right decision…”
- How old is the circuit breaker box?
In older homes the circuit breaker box might be one that has been recalled. Check and see if the brand is on the recall list (Google it) if it is you might not be able to get home owners insurance thus ending the sale. Replacing the box could cost thousands of dollars
- Does the house have cloth covered wiring insulation?
Again, in older homes where the existing wiring is still in place there might be cloth covered wiring in insulation. Although the current wiring might meet county or city codes, insurance companies might not want to insure the home. Insurance companies want to remove any risk of claims due to any issues that they feel are unsafe.
- Has the plumbing been replace or “re-plumbed”?
Here in SW Florida since basements are not common, homes are built on cement slabs. Plumbing is usually installed in the cement slab and over time water pipes may develop leaks. Many home owners may “re-plumb” or install new plumbing to avoid facing an emergency water leak. This could be thousands of dollars to install.
- Does the home have polybutylene or galvanize plumbing?
Polybutylene piping has been used as water piping in homes from 1978 thru 1995. When it was introduced it was considered the piping of the future. However, it was found to degrade over time from the inside. Since the outside of the piping looks good you may be surprised to have a major water leak unexpectedly. Galvanized water pipes were used in homes built before 1960. This piping also degrades from the inside causing poor water flow. Here also an insurance company may not want to insure a home with these types of plumbing.
- Does the home have a septic system?
Get this system inspected! Again, septic system problems could cost thousands to repair.
- How old is the roof?
Find out how much life is left in the roof and check interior ceiling for signs of leaks.
- Has the roof been upgraded for hurricane protection?
In Florida older homes might not meet the current code for Wind Mitigation protection. With this protection your home insurance could be reduced.
- Does the foundation have any cracks?
Check for cracks in the foundation or for cracks in floor tiles. If the floor is carpet covered
Check the garage floor for cracks. If you find cracks it could mean that the home is just settling or that there is a serious issue with the ground when the concrete slab was poured.
- Does the home have a pool?
For an older pool get it inspected and inspect the associated pool equipment
- Where’s the seller’s disclosure?
There should be a seller’s disclosure which states the condition of the house as far as the seller knows. This document is important if problems should arise in the future.
There are other items in the home to check but some of these issues I learned at the college of hard knocks. Most of these items would be discovered during a home inspection which generally costs from $300 to $350 based upon the square footage of the home.