There’s no denying that older homes have a certain history and character that modern homes do not. However, along with this history and character comes a slew of problems that are particular to older homes. The following issues were compiled following the words of veteran home inspectors speaking from their experience with older homes:
This fireproofing material has been phased out of new construction in the U.S., but may still be found encasing pipes, or sometimes and entire furnace, in a vintage home. It may also show up in old floor tiles or wall insulation.
A type of electrical wiring used in buildings from about 1880 to the 1930s, this consists of single-insulated copper conductors run within wall or ceiling cavities and supported by porcelain knob insulators. Some insurance companies will not write a new homeowners policy, and many institutional lenders are unwilling to finance the home, unless all knob-and-tube wiring is replaced.
Unless you replace a lead supply line running water to your house, you may have lead in your drinking water. New Jersey has strict new rules governing lead paint abatement under conditions like sanding down walls or woodwork prior to repainting.
Buried Oil Tank
An underground oil tank installed prior to 1990 probably should be removed, because it will lack a rust-proof coating and be prone to leak, creating a soil-contamination problem.
Certain areas, such as a porch, may lack a foundation or even stable footings. It also may not have been fastened to the main house securely, by today’s standards, and over time could become detached. Some cracks and settling in an old house are normal, but your inspector should call your attention to any that indicate serious issues.