Tips for Buying an Older Home – Part Two

In Part One, we looked at the initial considerations to make when buying an older home, as well as the importance of planning ahead and booking quality home inspection services to ensure that everything’s in working order before you decide. But what happens after the inspection? In this post, we look beyond your inspection and show you how to prioritize your plans for the future. So, let’s take a look at what else to consider.

Beyond Inspection

Title insurance helps with things like surveys and title searches. The older the home, the more possibilities there are for unusual title issues. If you are thinking about a mortgage, it may make sense to discuss the inclusion of home improvement funds in the financing plan. Your lender or financial advisor can help here. If market value is a consideration, professional appraisers can help.

Many people look to make significant changes to older homes, including additions. You may require help to understand building codes and local bylaws. Heritage homes may also have special limitations as a result of their designation. Make sure you understand these issues early on. Architects, designers, and builders can help with these questions.

Prioritization

Once you have a good sense of the present condition of the home, your planning process can move forward effectively. A good rule is to think about the underlying systems before the fun stuff, like kitchen and bathroom remodelling, room layouts, decorating, and furnishing. It doesn’t make sense to put beautiful skin over a bad infrastructure. You don’t want to have to pull apart new work to correct plumbing, heating, or electrical problems later. You don’t want leaks coming through an old roof covering to ruin your new interiors. Get the function right before focusing on the form.

Think about things like energy improvements. Are you going to be upgrading insulation and air sealing? If so, it’s very cost effective to do these kinds of things during the remodelling. It’s much more expensive after the fact.

Think about the modern essentials that may not exist. Do you want to add things like central air conditioning or smart home systems that deal with things like internet and security? Again, the time to build these systems is before you begin your cosmetic upgrades.

To Save or Not to Save?

Many owners of older homes have an ongoing challenge. Do they retain the architectural features and details that give the home charm, but may not be working well? Things like windows and doors, casings, trim, and mouldings are examples of these “save or replace?” components. Many homeowners, ourselves included, are willing to sacrifice some energy efficiency to retain architectural detail. Modern windows are more efficient for sure, but you probably won’t save enough on your energy bills to pay for the new windows anytime soon. Leaded glass and stained glass windows can be repaired and preserved.

In some cases, reproductions are a good alternative to abandoning architectural details. Deteriorated plaster mouldings, rosettes, etc. can often be replaced with Styrofoam or MDF (medium-density fiberboard) components, that once installed and painted, provide a very authentic look.

Long-Term Planning

As a final word, we would like to remind you that a home is a living, breathing, changing creature. It needs ongoing care and feeding. Homes can last indefinitely and can be warm, safe, and dry with good maintenance. Even the best built and updated homes will not perform without that maintenance.

Older homes are a treasure. Good luck with your treasure hunt.

Source: Carson Dunlop Home Inspection Services, March 18, 2015

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