The average age of homes in the U.S. is 37 years. As such, those dwellings hold outdated fixtures, finishes, and structural components. In some cases, renovations had been done several times.
While older homes can still be perfectly functional, they likely harbor multiple issues, from paintwork to electrical wiring. Antique houses, or those built before 1920, may even contain hazardous materials that are already regulated today.
That said, if you’ve just bought an older home, here are the crucial upgrades it has to undergo:
- Lead and Asbestos Removal
Lead is usually present in the paintwork of homes built before 1978. Large quantities of it are also found ancient plumbing systems, while smaller amounts exist in water pipes installed before the mid-80s.
Asbestos, a highly hazardous mineral that’s notorious for causing lung cancer, had been banned by the late 1980s. Still, the EPA never required building owners to get rid of their asbestos products. Hence, chances are your old home contains the hazardous mineral, particularly in the crawl spaces, walls, and pipes.
To remove lead from your home, hire a professional lead paint remover, and invest in a water filtration system either for your whole house or just the kitchen tap. Or replace the entire plumbing system, though it will cost you more.
Asbestos in inaccessible spaces isn’t likely to pose direct health risks, but if you’re going to tear down walls to renovate, asbestos removal would be required. Contractors specializing in environmental issues are the ones fit for that job.
- Plumbing Upgrades
Apart from containing lead, old and substandard plumbing systems may be susceptible to damage that causes floods. A serious failure may render the home uninhabitable, not to mention cost a ton. Hence, ask the seller how old the plumbing system is, and what material is used in the supply and drain pipes.
If the home has polybutylene pipes, which can corrode due to bleach and other household cleaners, ask the seller to replace and pay for new pipes. But if you’ve already bought the home, budget for a whole-house pipe replacement. Consider root damage fixes as well.
- Electrical Upgrades
Older homes may use fuse boxes instead of circuit breakers that are more common today. Fuse boxes are generally safe, but if fuses with a higher amperage than the wires can handle were installed, overheating may occur and increase the risk of fire.
Before moving into the home, hire a licensed electrician to inspect the wiring thoroughly. They’ll check for frays and other damages in the insulation of the wires. Expect some electrical code violations, such as uncovered junk boxes, overlamping, and overwired panels. But you won’t be fined for these violations. Expert electrical repair is the only requirement you’ll face in consequence.
- Foundation Repair or Replacement
Signs of a faulty foundation include doors that jam or fail to latch, cracked walls, cracked tile or concrete floors, stuck windows, and off-level floors. You’d need a structural engineer to address these issues. The costs can be hefty, and homeowner’s insurance doesn’t usually cover them.
- Roof Repair or Replacement
Roofs are typically long-lasting, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to damage. If you see sagging gutters, missing or damaged shingles, moisture in the attic, and other evidence of water damage, call a roof inspector immediately.
A roof’s lifespan depends on its installation quality, maintenance, slope, and locale climate. So if you’re going to replace the old home’s roofing, be sure that the new material is suited for your area and is low-maintenance. Ensure that the roof installers are experienced.
Once these crucial upgrades are done, you may now focus on improving the design and efficiency of the space. There are several home improvements you can make on a budget, like refreshing kitchen cabinets and upgrading the insulation. When you’re finished, your old home can look good as new again.