Thanks to HGTV, many of us are feeling more empowered than ever when it comes to home improvement and considering purchasing fixer-uppers to convert into our dream home. The possibilities are endless. Older homes have become a target for this trend, allowing us to hold onto some of the charm and character they offer while adding modern flair. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering purchasing an older home or any home you’re planning to renovate.
1. Type of Electrical Wiring
Knob & tube and fuses are two types of electrical wiring that should be avoided or replaced, not only for safety, but for efficiency. Our electrical needs have changed over the years and older forms of wiring are not equipped to handle the amount of electricity we are using. These systems are also known as fire hazards. Homes should have Romex wiring, circuit breakers, and amp service updated to greater than 100 to meet today’s electrical demands and standards.
2. Type of Plumbing
- Copper pipes in good working condition should stand the test of time and not require updating.
- Plastic and PVC piping should be the same. You should also beware of Polybutylene (PB) plumbing, which was used from 1978-1995 and is a type of plastic. PB plumbing becomes brittle over time causing leaks and breaks.
- Galvanized pipe can be found in older homes and is subject to corrosion and rust. If you are looking at a home with galvanized piping, be sure to have the plumbing thoroughly inspected. If the pipe is in good condition, then this may not be a concern. It is just something to keep an eye on.
3. Heat Source
- If the home does not have central heat, you should consider installing it during your renovation. If the home does have central heat, the average life of a furnace is about 20 years. If the furnace is approaching that age, be sure to have it inspected to insure it is in good working order and plan to replace in the near future.
- Space heaters are good for heating the area you’re using, but leave other parts of the home exposed to freezing temperatures which can cause pipes to burst. Space heaters should only be used for supplemental heating. If they are not used correctly, you could also be at risk for certain fire hazards and should be avoided.
- Wood burning appliances are also a great source of heat for a small area and creating a warm ambiance in your home, but should only be used to supplement a central heating system and under careful supervision. would be great to have as a back-up source of heat in case of loss of power.
4. The Roof
The longevity of a roof depends on the roofing material, installation, and location. An asphalt shingle roof in Texas will age faster from sun/heat exposure than the same roof in Ohio, for example. Every roof ages differently, therefore it’s important to get a rooftop inspection so you know the current condition and estimated life left. Below are some general estimates on roof age.
- Asphalt shingles or a rolled roofing has a shorter life span of 15-30 years for asphalt (depending on type) and 5-10 years for rolled or flat roofs. Some asphalt shingles are now designed to last 50 years, but you likely wouldn’t find this on an older home unless the roof has been recently replaced.
- Wood shingle or shake roofs can look worn over time but generally remain in good condition for 25-40 years.
- Slate roofs have a long lifespan of 35 to over 100 years depending on where the slate is sourced from.
- Tile roofs range from 30-60 years, but are more susceptible to hail and wind damage.
- Metal roofs are excellent in high wind and hail areas and are still function even with hail damage. These can last 20-60 years.
All of the things mentioned above can affect your ability to insure your home so be sure to have a complete home inspection done prior to buying your fixer upper. Older systems are less desirable to insure as there is a real risk of future loss, especially when it comes to the plumbing and electrical. Be sure to check with your independent agent to insure you have the proper coverage.
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