7 Things to Inspect Before Buying an Older House

When shopping for a new home or just an addition to your real estate portfolio, you’ll come across older houses offering many unique advantages. They may have spacious backyards, interesting architecture, or a great location. Older homes may also be cheaper, making them attractive to buyers. Before signing any papers, inspect all aspects of the property before committing. Here are critical systems and components to inspect.

The Plumbing System

An older home’s plumbing system may be outdated, especially when there’s little maintenance carried out regularly. Have a professional plumber inspect the pipes and fixtures for leaks, corrosion, or cracks. Check the pipe materials as well; older ones made of galvanized steel are prone to corrosion. They also have a lot of mineral buildup, leading to clogged pipes and plumbing difficulties.

Examine water pressure levels, the water heater’s condition, and the septic system. When buying a house with a well, test whether the water is safe and clean for drinking. Install water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow toilets and showerheads. A tankless heating system will also help you save more on energy costs.

The HVAC System

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system keeps a home comfortable all year round. Inspect its condition and efficiency to determine if it requires repairs or a replacement. It’s best to consult an HVAC services provider. They’ll check whether it can meet your needs while keeping energy consumption low. Go for a new one if it’s over 15 years old.

Modern HVAC systems are more energy-efficient, saving you money in the long run. They also have more features like higher efficiency air filters and zoning systems. Air filters remove pollutants from the air, while zoning systems set different temperature settings in each room or zone. The system also plays a role in keeping out moisture, pests, and allergens.


The roof is one of the most critical parts of an older house. It keeps out rain, snow, and other weather elements that damage structures. Check if it’s in good condition. Signs of wear and tear are water stains on the ceilings, missing shingles, or roof tiles. Be sure to check for water damage or rot in the attic. If you find any signs of damage, consider a replacement. A new roof is a good investment as it increases the home value and improves energy efficiency. It also prevents future damage from occurring due to weather elements.


Older houses lack modern insulation, which means more energy use to keep the home comfortable. Check if your house has enough insulation in the walls and ceilings, as this will reduce your energy bills. If it’s not enough, you’ll need an upgrade. Popular and modern options include spray foam, cellulose insulation, and rigid board. When choosing an insulation option, consider its R-value or thermal resistance. It measures how well the insulation resists heat flow.

The Foundation

An older home’s foundation is a critical component to pay attention to. Check for cracks on the walls, uneven floors, or water seepage. Foundation issues may also cause the roof to sag or the walls to bow. It’s also a challenge to close and open doors and windows. If you find any signs, get a professional assessment. These issues are due to water damage or shifting soil and are expensive to fix.

Electrical Wiring

Older houses might have outdated wiring, which is a fire hazard. Electrical wires made from aluminum need replacing. Check if the electrical panel is working correctly and up to code. If not, get a professional electrician to inspect and upgrade it accordingly.

Check for flickering lights, burnt outlets, and missing smoke detectors. Can the electrical system handle your energy consumption needs? Will you need a larger panel and GFIs or replace the wiring and circuit breakers? Take all this into account when considering an older house.

Pest Infestations

Older properties, especially the ones vacant for extended periods, are at risk of pest invasion. Check for signs of an infestation, such as droppings, wood damage, and nests in the attic or basement. If you find any, take the necessary precautions and hire a pest control professional to treat the entire house.

However, more extensive damage from termite infestations and carpenter ants may require more drastic measures. In addition, check for mold growth in areas with high moisture levels. It may signify water damage, poor insulation and ventilation, or inadequate drainage.

While no house is perfect, be aware of any significant issues before buying an older home. Have an independent inspector evaluate the condition before finalizing the purchase. Negotiate with the seller whether to fix the issues or reduce the price. In some cases, it’s best to look for an alternative.