5 Important Things to Remember When Buying an Old House

By Ian | Apr. 06, 2021 9:22 am PST

Charming old house with white fence

Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

Whether you are buying your first home or your fifth, it is always an adventure, especially if you’ve chosen an old house. It can also be an overwhelming process, but old homes offer a bit of nostalgia and comfort that new homes just don’t have.

It’s important to know what to check in an old house before buying. Otherwise, you may have a big repair bill down the line. This article covers some red flags to look for when buying an old home.

Be Aware of Energy Efficiency

Older homes aren’t typically as energy efficient as newer homes. Older windows are usually the main culprit for poor energy efficiency. As science and design have advanced, so has the efficiency of windows, and while windows are an expensive upgrade, efficient new windows can help pay for themselves in energy cost savings, especially in colder climates.

Look for two main issues in windows in older homes. The first is condensation between window panes. Visible condensation between panes indicates that the seal has been compromised, and the window is no longer working as it should. When this happens, you need to replace the window.

The second is single-pane windows, which are more common in older homes than new homes. Newer windows have double or even triple panes. A gas such as argon or krypton is sealed between the panes, which increases the energy efficiency of the window. This insulating gas prevents harsh outdoor temperatures from seeping into your house.

It’s always a good idea to upgrade to the best available windows for your home. You can expect to pay around $5,000, so work this expense into your budget if it’s something you’ll need to do after buying the home.

Check the Age of Mechanical Equipment

Mechanicals in the house can be very expensive to replace. Luckily, they also have some pretty clear indicators of when they may need to be updated. Mechanical equipment, if maintained properly, can have a long lifespan, but as many homeowners know, when equipment starts to fail, it fails pretty fast.

Water heaters are one of the more important pieces of mechanical equipment on a house and cost an average of $1,000 to swap it out for a new one. If you notice rust, loud noises, or leaking water on or around the water heater, it may be time to have it replaced. Additionally, if the water in the house is either not heating at all or heating for only short periods of time, the heater is probably on its last leg.

water heater photo Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels

The same applies to HVAC equipment. A visual inspection may give you a general idea of what condition the equipment is in, but ask how old the equipment is. One of the biggest indications of an issue is also if there’s no air flow or low airflow being produced by the heating and cooling system.


Flooring in an old home can show a lot of wear and tear. If there are wood floors, look for warping or gaps between planks. If the home has laminate flooring, check for stains and tears. These are some of the most common signs flooring will need to be replaced.

Flooring over a large area can add up in price and labor efforts too, especially if it’s left unattended and mold starts to grow. In some cases a local fix may be appropriate, where only the damaged area itself is replaced; however, in other cases it may be necessary to replace the entire area. So when you’re checking out a house, remember to look down and check out the state of the flooring!


Roofs are expensive to replace: the average cost to replace a roof is around $9,000 for an average home. Many homebuyers look for a newer roof, even on older homes, because of how important the roof is.

Roofs with missing or warped shingles, large areas of discoloration, or warping on the roof itself can be near the end of their life. Visible damage to the gutter can indicate that there may have been an impact to the roof, like a branch falling. Ceiling stains also point to a potential problem with the roof.

All home inspections should include checking the roof, but you can see some damage from the ground. When touring an older home, walk the perimeter and check the roof for any major visible flaws.


Electrical issues can be hard to identify for an untrained eye because most of the wiring is enclosed behind walls. A lot of older homes have wiring that’s inefficient, hasn’t been updated from fused to a breaker box, or still has 110V outlets instead of 120V.

water heater photo Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Some indicators that there may be issues with the electrics in the house include unplanned power outages, dimming or flickering power or lights, and switches or outlets that are warm to the touch. While many electrical issues are mild, they should still be checked quickly by a professional because problems with the electrics in homes can turn serious. This is also a somewhat costly repair, averaging around $8,000.

Are you ready to purchase your new home?

Buying an old home can be an adventure, and while any older home will need some work or updates done on it, try to understand what improvements are needed before you buy.

If you have already bought your house, do a quick health check on each of these five parts of the home. Having these five things in good working order can help prevent future problems, save money and stop any unwanted surprises from coming your way.

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We’d be happy to help you with your home improvements whether you buy an older home or a newer home. Schedule an appointment now.

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