This Old House - 7 Typical Issues with older homes

Few modern homes can beat the charm and character of Canada’s homes built before the twentieth century.
Natural wood beams and trim, built-in cabinets and cozy bedroom alcoves are only a few of the features that make older homes special and attractive to many home buyers. Yet along with their appealing style and atmosphere, many of these houses also possess an array of ailments and conditions specifically because of their age. The Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors (CAHPI), cautions buyers to be aware of these problems when they shop. While a lot may be learned about a home by its outward appearance, its interior condition and future lifespan can only be evaluated by an expert on home construction: the professional home inspector.
Things to consider when buying an older home:
1. PLUMBING
The plumbing of an older house must be looked at very carefully, since it could be on its second or third generation of piping. If incompatible metals have been mixed in the piping, there may be extensive corrosion. Poly-B (polybutylene) is a flexible plastic plumbing piping that was commonly used in homes built between 1978-1995. Poly-b was popular for builders as it was much cheaper than copper piping, and it was installed in over 700,000 Canadian homes. One major issue with Poly-B pipes is that while they may look fine from the outside, they may be slowly deteriorating on the inside. Because of this, they could rupture suddenly, causing water damage.
2. SETTLEMENT
In addition to possible damage to the foundation, settlement of the structure can also cause problems in the plumbing system. Pipes that were once pitched properly to carry waste water away may now be pitched the wrong way if settlement is severe.
3. SAGGING
A common problem in older homes, sagging is often compounded by alterations to the house. Support structures are often cut with no thought to their ability to carry the weight of the building.
4. WIRING SYSTEM
When many of the older houses were wired, the only electrical requirements were a couple of lights and an occasional outlet - clearly inadequate for today’s needs. If the electrical system has not been modernized, or if modernization has been done by amateurs, a sizable expenditure may be anticipated.
5. ENERGY CONSERVATION
When these older homes were built, this was not even a consideration. Special attention must be paid to the conservation measures that may or may not have been installed.
6. PROPER VENTILATION
On the other hand, an unknowledgeable homeowner, in an attempt to seal and insulate his house, may have created more problems than he solved. A house can be made energy efficient, but it must also breathe.
7. HEATING SYSTEM
The transition from old systems (wood or coal burning stoves) to modern oil or gas fired central heating was often made by alterations to the existing equipment. Sometimes these modifications were done properly; more often they were not, and supple-mental heat is frequently needed. In addition, heat distribution pipes or ducts may have deteriorated with age and need replacement.
Buyers Beware, look closely at these aspects before falling in love with that quaint older home of your dreams and have a professional home inspection before committing to a purchase.
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