5 items to consider when purchasing an older home.

1.) Structure & Foundation: Be sure to inquire about the foundation. Review the inspection report for cracks & movement. It is common for a foundation to have hairline cracks due to settling after poured. You want to look for larger cracks or movement. (Cracks throughout the drywall in a home is usually a sign of significant slab movement). When was the home built? Homes built in the 1960’s and before did not usually have sealed concrete, which may lead to cracks and leaks. When purchasing an older home it is important to hire a slab specialist or engineer if anything abnormal comes back on the overall home inspection.

2.) HVAC Systems: Most HVAC systems only last 15 to 25 years. Furnaces on average last 15-20 years, heat pumps 16 years, and air conditioning units 10-15 years. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require proper and regular maintenance in order to work efficiently. It is important to get any maintenance records if possible. The average cost to replace an HVAC system is $6,500. When buying an older home consider the cost of replacing these systems. Typically seller’s will pay for a 1-year home warranty for the buyer’s.  This is a great value for a new homebuyer just in case a major component were to fail after purchasing the home in the 1st year.

3.) Safety: Be sure to have an older home tested for asbestos and lead, which is commonly found in insulation, paint and even floor tiles. The average inspector does not test for these items. Mold can also accumulate in older homes, so inspect properties for any moisture damage on walls, particularly in the basement. Some older homes were built before electrical safety codes went into effect, so be sure that all electrical circuits are safely installed and grounded. Building codes are always changing so it’s important to consult an qualified electrician about specific items listed on an inspection report.

4.) Roofing: Most inspectors only do a visual roof inspection.  It is important to have a thorough roof inspection done prior to purchasing a home.  The easiest way to look for roof leaks is inside the attic. Fiber cement shingles last about 25 years and asphalt shingle/composition roofs last about 20 years. Climate and weather conditions, such as snow, hail and hurricanes, can cut the life span of all types of roofs. Depending on the covering type replacing a roof can be very costly. The cost per square foot for a shingle roof is between $5.43 and $7.05. That equates to about $1,086 to $1,409 per 200 square feet.

5.) Window & Doors: Technology & efficiency has come a long way with windows & doors.  Older homes that have not had the windows and doors updated are far less efficient than newer homes today. It is important to consider the cost of replacing older less efficient windows when purchasing a home.  The average cost of replacing a window is $400-450. The average home has 20 windows so your looking at $8,000-9,000.

San Antonio, TX, USA