Modern houses are typically inexpensive and certainly have their benefits in the sense that not much is usually needed to bring them up to scratch, but for some people, old houses win every time. Sure, they’re a little more work and a bit more expensive, but they have bounds of character and unique features that new builds often lack, and that makes them the overriding winners for lots of people who are looking to move house.
It’s common knowledge that buying an older house means you’re likely to need to do a lot of work to modernize it and bring it up to a livable standard, but there’s a lot more to it than just replacing the windows and painting the walls.
Older houses are a risk because they can quickly become money traps that drain your budget. The worst part? The problems that will cost you the most money are probably hidden and won’t rear their heads until you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re thinking about buying a period property, here are some common issues that you might be unaware of are that are worth asking about and checking for before you file your paperwork.
This is arguably the most common issue older properties face, but it might not be immediately noticeable. If there’s no peeling wallpaper or musty smell, you might think you’ve escaped the dreaded damp, but that’s not always true. Some types of damp like penetrating damp and rising damp aren’t always visible but can cause expensive structural damage. Before you buy your period property, check if it’s had a damp proof course installed at any point. If it hasn’t (as is often the case with old houses) make sure you get some damp proofing installed as soon as possible to prevent any further damage in the future.
By definition, period properties were built way before electricity and central heating were commonplace which means they likely only have fireplaces as a form of heating. This might look good on the Instagram grid, but it’s not very comfortable come winter. You’ll want to look into alternative heating solutions that won’t ruin the look or the charm of your house. It could prove to be expensive, but it’s an essential part of renovating an older property and heating is modern-day essential you simply can’t live without (at least not comfortably).
Another source of heat loss to look into is windows. Single glazed windows and old doors are wind traps and as much as 10% of heat is lost through them. If you don’t want to go all out with a whole new heating system, you can preserve what heat there is in the house by upgrading the windows and doors.
In the same way heating isn’t a given in a period property, neither is electricity. Most houses will have some form of connectivity to the grid, but whether or not it’s suitable for present day needs is a whole different matter. If your house has no record of being re-wired in the last 30 years or so, it probably needs redoing. This is for a variety of reasons, including safety and the fact that we now use electrical appliances more than we ever have, and that means we need a circuit that can keep up. It’s a good idea to install more sockets if you’re going to be rewiring your house as there likely won’t be enough for all your gadgets and mod-cons. This is another costly process, but one that is essential if it hasn’t already been done.
When you’re buying an old house, it’s imperative you keep problems like this in mind. They’re often expensive to fix so they should be taken into account before you make an offer or commit to buying a house with a limited budget. If you do take the plunge, the rewards can be great in the form of a stunning family home, but it’s important to beware of the cost of getting to the finished product.