What to Inspect For Before Buying an Older Home

Older homes are an excellent choice if you’re looking for something quaint and affordable. However, when buying a historic home, you need to consider a few more possible downsides before officially signing any paperwork. Here’s our ultimate guide on what to inspect before purchasing an older home.


Asbestos is insulation that contractors used to trap heat in older homes up until the 1980s. However, even if a homeowner says they’ve removed any asbestos, it’s a good idea to inspect the home before buying it. The prime areas to look for asbestos include in-between walls, popcorn ceilings, and flooring. Asbestos in flooring is not necessarily hazardous on its own, but it could cause problems if you ever plan to renovate.

Pro tip: Go through all walls and flooring carefully. Also, if there’s an attic or basement, inspect those areas. If you find or suspect asbestos in your home, contact an asbestos removal company to remove it for you.

Old Electrical and Plumbing

If the home’s been vacant for more than 20 years, it probably has plumbing and electrical issues. These two projects together can end up costing a lot of money over time, with both posing a ton of safety risks. For example, corroded pipes can leak and flood areas and shorts in the electrical system can cause a fire.

Pro tip: Hire an electrician to evaluate the age of the wiring, and hire a plumber to inspect the pipes. Even if there are no original systems on the home, still request a quote so that you get an idea of how much the whole thing will cost.

Hazardous Materials

Older homes are more likely to contain hazardous materials, such as lead and asbestos. For lead, hire a painter who can inspect the walls and inform you of what type of paint it is and if you can paint over it. As we addressed earlier, hire a professional to inspect for and remove any asbestos safely. These are DIY projects you do not want to attempt.

Pro tip: If you purchase a home built before 1980, you need to know what hazardous materials are in the house and how you can learn to live with them. However, it’s always best to remove these dangers when you can.

Defective Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

In most states, the law requires up-to-date carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms on every level of the home. If you come across any, check to see that they are working effectively.

Pro tip: When doing a home inspection, always go through the home to find any faulty smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries or hardware when necessary.

Before you sign on the dotted line, you must know what to inspect for before buying an older house so that you know what to look for and how to fix it. Ensure you follow these steps to help you improve any concerning issues in the home.

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