Buying an old home with the intention of renovating it is a fun way to obtain your dream home, but unlike homes of the modern era, there are a few unique renovation challenges when working with old homes. Hazards may linger from a bygone age, or hidden problems may lurk under outdated materials and practices. Before you start your renovations, familiarize yourself with some of the most common challenges.
This is an issue of age, as all things wear out eventually. The most obvious tell is that if you can see or feel that the floor of the house is uneven, then you should have a structural engineer come out and inspect the foundation. More subtle hints that you have foundation issues include drywall cracks, doors and windows that stick or that don’t close and latch properly, and bulges in the foundation walls. Ensuring the foundation is solid before you start renovations, rather than discovering foundational issues when you’ve already begun construction, will save you trouble early on.
One of the most common renovation challenges when working with old homes is asbestos. Prior to the 1980s, we didn’t yet know how toxic asbestos was to our health. As a result, it’s entirely possible that old houses built before then still contain asbestos insulation within the walls and attic. Before you begin renovations, know how to identify asbestos insulation from other insulation materials so that you can avoid the former and call the right people to safely remove it. Never try to remove asbestos by yourself—no matter what preparations you make to try and keep yourself safe, you’ll place yourself at great risking of poisoning yourself when you disturb the insulation.
Another issue relating to age is that many utilities and amenities may be faulty, rusty, or simply not as good as what we have in the modern era. For example, popcorn ceilings were once considered luxuries, but these days they’re unpopular and even dangerous in that asbestos may be within them as well. Luckily, you can remove popcorn ceilings fairly easily, but ensuring that your utilities—such as plumbing and ventilation—don’t contain illnesses or other health hazards is vital.