Home inspections for older homes pose challenges that home inspectors do not face with newer homes. Although new homes come with their share of problems, older ones are definitely more likely to be riddled with concerns due to age, use and deterioration. Three of the more common areas of older homes to which home inspectors must pay special attention are electrical wiring, plumbing and structural issues.
The electrical wiring of an older home requires careful inspection. It is possible to uncover missing insulated tapes, damaged cross-sections of the wire or damaged electric sheath of the wires. Older homes were built with ungrounded electrical receptacles and fixtures, and many local codes still do not require for these to be rewired for grounding. However, a home inspector will note where grounding should be added for safety. It protects families from electrocution by sending the flow of any leak into the earth rather than into a person who touches a defective fixture, appliance or tool.
Old sewage pipes are quite susceptible to damage over time, so these demand close attention as well. Although detecting a major leak is easy, minor leaks can be difficult to find, since a lot of the time minor leaks are hidden behind cosmetic modifications. Home owners often polish, repair and remodel their bathrooms, which may conceal leaks and improper fittings. Older homes may have other unique plumbing challenges that are not exactly defective but rather problematic for maintenance and repairs. In particular, an older home might have copper plumbing which is not ideal when it comes time for them to be serviced. The home inspector will have to look past the veneer for these minor issues with major potential.
Structure and Roof
The structural integrity of an older home needs to be validated to ensure that the overall strength of the structure is really the same as what is being claimed. Taking a close look at the I-beam and other structural foundations is important, because this will testify to the strength and life of the structure for a home buyer. Cracks and other problems in the foundation may need some repairs, so the home inspector of an older home may have to spend more time evaluating this area than a new home would require. Also, an older home may mean an older roof, and older roofs can be quite troublesome and expensive. Cracked shingles are common among older homes and require maintenance and/or repair. In regards to the roof, chimneys and ventilation points should also be carefully inspected.
Older homes have had a chance to develop problems not seen in newer ones, so home inspectors have to be aware of these challenges during inspections for older homes. This is due to different building standards in the past, as well as, the fact that over time any component of a home could give way. It is always important that an inspector is at the top of their game when inspecting any home, but as discussed above, it is especially important when facing the unique challenges of an older home.