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September 1, 2020

Older houses attract many hopeful home buyers - they have a unique style, character, and lower price point. Unfortunately, these relics of the past come with issues that may not be obvious at first. As time passes, problems accumulate, from leaky roofs to broken boilers. Before you buy a home that’s older than 30 years, be aware of the following complications that can be expensive and difficult to repair:

Foundation problems. Is the kitchen floor sloped just slightly? It could be a sign of a larger problem. A crack in the stucco might be a minor cosmetic issue or an expensive defect. Maybe the windows don’t latch or the doors stick - but why? The answer is one that sends first-time home buyers running in the opposite direction: foundation issues. These cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Before you buy a slanted house, have it assessed by a structural engineer. That way, you’ll know what type of repairs you’ll be getting into.

Insufficient waterproofing. What’s behind that musty smell? It might be a mould infestation - yuck! This can cause serious damage and health problems. A lack of, or improper eavestroughs will cause water to run down the sides of the walls and gather in the foundation. Floors without drainage will result in erosion. The best way to prevent these issues and waterproof your home leads us to our next hidden problem.

Lack of insulation. An under-insulated home can cost you hundreds in heating bills throughout the year. Heat will leak through walls, allowing the cold to come in. Even top-end insulation’s performance is diminished when there’s not enough of it. That’s why you need continuous insulation; it can reduce heat loss by making homes much more energy-efficient. It’s 100% waterproof, so it will prevent moisture damage while also eliminating energy loss.

A leaky roof. Droopy roofs are more than unsightly - they can be the ruin of a house! Check the ceiling for water spots, a sign of moisture damage. From cracked shingles to missing roof boards, there are many locations where water can seep in and cause serious structural damage. If your dream home has a roofing issue, have it assessed by a trusted contractor so that you know the extent of the damage.

It has an outdated gas boiler. On average, a gas boiler lasts between 10 to 15 years. If you have an old home and the boiler has stuck around since day one, it likely needs to be replaced. You can upgrade to an energy-efficient model that’s more durable than old, gas boilers. How long do electric boilers last? With the proper maintenance, they can last between 15 to 25 years. Investing in an electric boiler for your old home can save you money on monthly utility bills.

An infestation. Older homes have plenty of cracks where rodents and pests can infiltrate. Watch out for signs of mice, cockroaches, and wasps, which are regular guests in older homes. If you suspect that unwanted visitors are residing in your house, contact a qualified exterminator.

Outdated décor. Anyone that purchases a new home will want to change it to fit their tastes. But for antiquated houses, these changes may rack up a sizable bill. It’s one thing to repaint unstylish colours or replace old light fixtures - it’s another to redo bathroom tiles or kitchen countertops. Older homes are often made with materials that are unsafe to remove without the help of a professional, like popcorn ceilings that contain asbestos or walls with lead-based paint.

The lawn is in rough shape. Lawn problems can be caused by something more than weeds. Dead spots in the grass can indicate a fungus disease, which can be helped with aeration or fertilization. Landscaping services will drastically improve the health and appearance of a neglected lawn. Revitalize the yard by installing sod, a rock bed, and/or flower beds.

Old windows. They let heat out, and water in - old windows are a costly problem. Examine the frames around the windows to see any signs of stains, mould, or other damage. Inefficient windows drive up heating and cooling bills. It can be quite an expense to replace a house full of new windows, so take caution if you see any defects.

When a house is older than 30 years, some appliances are likely on the verge of breaking down, adding further to the costs of liveability. If you’re considering buying an antiquated home, be aware of the many hidden expenses that come along with them.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.