Buying an Older house may seem like a great investment. Usually they are priced lower than a new house, especially considering the square footage. Most people consider purchasing an older home with the intention of doing some remodeling to bring restore the homes charm. This is all great but you have to consider several hidden costs that you may not thing about when buying an older home. Below are just a few things to consider before making your offer on an older home:
1. Higher Energy Bills
Check with the previous owner and get copies of their utility bills. Often times Older Homes often do not have air conditioning installed or if they do it may be window units. Getting a central air system installed can cost thousands of dollars. Also, heating older homes without adequate insulation can cost upwards of $300-$400 per month. If the owner is hesitant to provide you with past energy bills, beware!
2. Central Air and Furnace Units
If older homes do have central air units or furnaces check the age. If you have to replace a furnace or air unit you may immediately be out a few thousand dollars.
3. The Roof
A typical roof lasts 20 – 30 years. If you have to replace the roof again, you are looking at several thousand dollars. Not only can the materials be expensive, but sometimes previous owners layer the shingles. If the contractor has to remove several layers of shingles before a new layer can be installed you will have to pay a lot more labor costs!
Older homes tend to have a lot windows. If they have the original windows they are probably single pane glass windows. These type of windows provide terrible energy efficiency. If you stand next to the windows you can usually feel the outside air blowing through the edges. The cost to replace these windows can be as much as $300 to $400 per window. That’s several thousand dollars in a larger home.
65. Electrical Systems
If you are going to remodel an old home you will have to bring the electrical systems up to code. Homes build decades ago had much more lax codes and are much more susceptible to fires. Also, the insulation on old wires start to crumble over time. Replacing faulty wiring and old electrical outlets throughout the home can cost thousands of dollars.
6. Lead Paint
Before 1979, lead paint was used for both interior and exterior surfaces. Lead paint can cause health problems so it’s best to remove all traces of it before continuing to remodel. Resolving these paint issues can cost some unexpected cash.
Another hazard in older houses is the potential to encounter asbestos. Asbestos was used for insulation and may be used in old floor tiles as well. Removing asbestos can be expensive and requires special equipment and expertise.
8. Historic Restrictions
Even thought you may own the house, some older houses may be classified as historic. Because if this the city may have remodeling and addition restrictions on the dwelling to preserve the historic value. Double check with the city about these special circumstances before you make the purchase.
9. Project after Project
Owning any home will require constant upkeep and improvements. With older homes this expense and time is amplified even more. A weekend project every weekend will start to eat away at your savings and your free time.
Before making a purchase of an older home, please consider all the above hidden expenses. Always get a home inspection from an experienced, licensed inspector. Good luck with your purchase!