Growing up and purchasing an old home is a lifelong dream for some people. However, realizing this dream means accepting that old homes come with many challenges and extra costs. Finding an affordable fixer-upper may be more expensive than you think, and making upgrades could soon become a full-time job.
Before you sign on the dotted line and purchase your dream home, consider these important considerations to ensure your dream home doesn’t end in a nightmare.
What Are the Sale Conditions?
When purchasing an older home, the first thing to consider are the conditions of the sale. It’s common to find old homes that have been empty for some time being sold “as is.” This term means your options are limited for disclosure and contingencies. In repossession situations, you could be limited in your right to hire a home inspector.
Take some time to understand the terms of the sale and ask questions about the home’s history. If the house has been empty or abandoned for some time, or the previous owners backed out mid-renovation, that’s a huge red flag. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What Needs To Be Brought up to Code?
Many different systems are likely outdated and potentially unsafe when purchasing an old home. Determining what aspects of the home should be brought up to code — both to meet regulations and make the home safe — is integral.
One of the most common issues with older homes is the electrical system. Rewiring, panel upgrades and adding outlets are just a few of the must-have updates made to an old house. In addition to having a general home inspection, it’s also worth having an electrical inspection according to https://jenningsheating.com/akron/electrician/.
Plumbing is another area of concern for older homes, especially if it’s been left empty for a long time. Consider having a skilled plumber check to ensure the pipes are undamaged and see if they recommend water quality testing.
Depending on your location, there may be necessary upgrades for accessibility and safety. For example, adding railings to stairs, ensuring windows are a certain size, and so on.
Who Will Handle the Renovations?
If you’re purchasing an old home, renovations are inevitable. As the homeowner, you’ll be tasked with deciding who will handle the renovations. Some tasks should always be left to the experts; electric work, plumbing, and structural changes, for example. If you have some handy skills, you may decide to handle cosmetic upgrades yourself.
It’s worth noting that even if you delegate the entire renovation plan, overseeing the progress is still a time-consuming task. Purchasing and updating an old home means dedicating your time and energy to that project above all else until it’s complete.
Is It Liveable?
Another important consideration is whether the home is currently liveable or not. In other words, can you stay there during the renovations? If not, what tasks need to be completed to meet the basic living requirements, and where will you stay in the meantime?
What Is the Renovation Budget?
Before you commit to buying an old home, start collecting quotes to better estimate the overall renovation budget. Then, add an extra 50% of your budgeted costs as a buffer, as there are almost always unexpected surprises when renovating older homes.
Determine whether the renovation budget is doable and how your life will change until the work is done. Consider whether the sacrifices you’ll have to make are worth it mentally and emotionally.
What Are the Daily Costs?
Older homes often have higher daily costs as well. Insufficient insulation, higher power needs, and limited airflow can drive up utility costs. If possible, collect data about the previous homeowner’s utility costs. If this isn’t possible, do some online research and add a buffer to your estimated budget.
What Are the Insurance Limitations?
One of the most unexpected costs that homeowners face when purchasing an old house is the insurance costs and limitations. It’s typical for insurance costs to be significantly higher on older homes, and if things are out of code, your coverage options may be limited.
Reach out for quotes to local insurance agencies and determine what potential pitfalls you may experience. It’s worth noting that most insurance providers offer a reduced coverage plan if you aren’t staying at the house during renovations.
Will Your Furniture Fit?
While your old Victorian home may be sprawling compared to your previous residence, it’s likely smaller in many ways. Older homes tend to have narrow hallways, small doors, and cozy rooms. If you’re bringing furniture with you, make sure it fits before moving everything. You don’t want to discover that your wardrobe won’t fit into your bedroom after you’ve hauled it up a narrow staircase.
It’s also worth looking at the ceiling and door height if you’re a taller person and what changes can be made. It’s one thing to duck as you come down the stairs; it’s another to realize the showerhead is at chest height and can’t be raised without tearing out the ceiling.
Are There Renovation Limitations?
Before you purchase a historical home, confirm that you can, in fact, do renovations. Some older homes are protected historical properties with severe restrictions on making changes. These limitations may necessitate maintaining a certain percentage of the original home’s structure or using the existing material types.
Are There Dangers?
Finally, be mindful of the potential for dangerous materials within the home. Two of the most common concerns with homes aged 50 years or older are asbestos and lead paint.
The bright side of discovering these harmful materials is that they’re generally OK to be around unless they’re damaged or disturbed. The downside is that you have to damage and disturb them to remove them from your home. While purchasing a home with dangerous materials isn’t a deal-breaker, paying for professional removal will dramatically increase your costs.
Sometimes, the dream of purchasing an old home should remain a dream. Many homeowners find more success in designing a new home with classic design features. If you determine you have the time, money, and tenacity for this significant undertaking, remember to address the concerns listed above.
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