It takes a village: The experts you’ll need when purchasing an older home

Some people dream of owning an older or historic home. The lure of mature landscaping, stained glass windows, or detailed woodwork draw in many prospective homeowners. But before signing on the dotted line, you’ll need to line up some experts―starting with an experienced home inspection company. Look for a company that employs highly trained and licensed professionals.

Your need for expertise won’t stop there! You certainly should call licensed plumbers and electricians next, based on what your home inspection finds.

Here’s a look at some of the challenges of buying an older home:

  • Cellars: Moisture and dampness tend to be present in cellars due to stone foundations. Over time, moisture increases the likelihood of mold. The inspection report will document any evidence of moisture or mold. Ordering an Air Quality Mold Screening can give you additional insights.
  • Polybutylene Piping: This piping is not as efficient or weather resistant as what is used today. The truth about polybutylene is that it degrades quicker than other pipes on the approved piping list. Because they deteriorate from the inside out, it’s difficult to assess any damage. Eventually, leaking begins; if not corrected, it can lead to extensive water damage.
  • Cast Iron Drains: These drains are known to rust on both the inside and outside, and so deteriorate over time. Sadly, cast-iron drains were not built to last!
  • Aluminum Wiring: Wiring made from aluminum can get very hot and lead to fires.
  • Knob and Tube: Another type of wiring commonly used in the late 1800s to early 1900s, knob and tube is outdated and can be dangerous.
  • Asbestos: Asbestos siding is easy to identify, and the inspection report will note it as a possible asbestos hazard. Also, asbestos can be found in attics, tiles, and other building material. It is not always easily identified. Typically, inspectors do not look specifically for asbestos, but will document it if found.
  • Lead Pipes: These pipes were commonly used for plumbing in most of the District of Columbia’s homes built in the 1900s. An inspector can test the surface of the pipe to see if it contains lead.

Expect to see some differences―and challenges―when purchasing an older home! However, with the right team of experts in your corner, historic homeownership can be yours!

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