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Old house in England

What to look out for if you’re buying an old house

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Whether you’re a fan of traditional architecture and design or you want to buy a fixer-upper in order to put it back on the market, old homes bring numerous challenges that you should be aware of. Not only can certain problems cost you a fortune to fix, but they can also endanger your health and safety. Therefore, if you’ve decided to buy an old house, you should keep your eyes open for some of these common problems.

1. Lead paint

Old houses, especially those built before 1970s, are likely to have lead paint. It was typically used for floors, walls and around the doors and windows. This is a major health hazard, so it’s essential that you have it removed. Children are more vulnerable than adults because their immune systems are still weak and their bodies aren’t fully developed. Pregnant women are also at a greater risk because lead paint can cause miscarriage. Therefore, if you have children and determine that an old house you’ve bought has lead paint, you should hire professionals to remove it. Simply painting over it isn’t enough because lead will still be there and it can be released into the air if the paint starts flaking.

2. Termites

When inspecting an old house, you should pay special attention to possible signs of termites. Termites are more than just a nuisance because they can actually cause major property damage by chewing through wood and causing leaks around your house. Other insects and pests may also be present in older houses, so make sure to have a professional conduct a thorough inspection to determine whether your desired property has certain undesired guests.

3. Asbestos

As one of the most common issues found in old houses, asbestos is definitely one of the most dangerous hazards that you can come across. Despite its harmful effects, asbestos used to be one of the most popular building materials due to its durability. However, once it was discovered that asbestos can cause serious health problems, countries started banning its use. The UK banned it in 1999 while the total ban on asbestos in Australia came into force in 2003. Nonetheless, a great number of houses built before 1990s may have asbestos in their construction. Fortunately, asbestos is typically not dangerous if you don’t disturb it.

However, since you’re probably planning to remodel your old house, it’s essential that you hire professionals to determine whether there’s asbestos in your house. For instance, thorough asbestos testing in Sydney can be performed only by licenced experts in specially equipped laboratories to avoid poisoning. Under no circumstance should you yourself try to remove asbestos from your old house. Keep in mind that around 2500 in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, each year and that only few of them live more than five years after the diagnosis.

4. Foundation and structural problems

Foundation and structural problems are also a common issue in older homes. When buying an old house, you need to keep your eyes open for foundation cracks, leaning or other possible issues. Of course, not all of them are a cause for concern, but you need to hire an expert who can perform a comprehensive inspection and determine whether certain issues are serious. In addition, you should also be wary of soil issues around the house. Landslides and foundation movements can cost you a lot of money to repair.

5. Outdated electrical installations

If you decide to buy an old house, you also need to check its electrical systems carefully. Old houses weren’t designed to withstand modern technology use and energy consumption, so their electrical systems may easily fail when all the appliances are connected.

Furthermore, old houses typically have outdated installations that aren’t up to code. This isn’t only a violation, but also a safety hazard that can endanger your safety and damage your property. Therefore, you may have to completely reinstall the electrical system in your old house in order to make it fit for your level of power usage.

Buying an old house can be a great investment, especially if you’re planning to remodel it and sell it at a higher price. However, keep in mind that an old house hides many challenges and hazards that should be dealt with carefully.

Author bio: Cooper Klein is an interior designer currently working from home as a blogger for SmoothDecorator and other online magazines. You can find him on Twitter.

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