4 Things To Consider When Buying An Historic Home

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


Historic properties offer many features that you just don’t get with modern builds. In addition to being just plain lovely to look at, they often come with high-quality materials, distinctive architectural designs, and well-established gardens. While they have a certain aesthetic that modern homes just can’t achieve, they also come with their own unique set of challenges. Before rushing out to purchase that Victorian manor house you’ve had your eye on, take a moment to consider these four risks associated with owning a period property.

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

Structural Damage

It’s important that the home you buy has a strong foundation. Look for cracks on the exterior walls and base of the structure, which indicate foundation problems. Old homes are also susceptible to wet and dry rot, which can be identified by discoloration in wood floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs. If the rot isn’t too severe, you may be able to treat it yourself at a relatively low cost, but if the damage is extensive - particularly on the roof - you’ll need professional help, which will more than likely cost you a pretty penny.

Building Restrictions

Many places have associations that protect historic homes. Part of their protection role involves making sure the property owner doesn’t do any renovations that jeopardize the features that give the home its historic and protected status. By purchasing a home that is registered as an historic property, you will need to obtain permission for any renovation that you wish to do. Changes that may seem harmless to you may be rejected, so be prepared to live with features you may not be so keen on.

Cost of Utilities and Insurance

Older homes are generally much more poorly insulated than homes built today. If you live in a colder climate, you should expect to spend much more on heating your home over the winter. It’s worth exploring ways to make your home more energy-efficient, though keep in mind that not all methods will be possible if the property has building restrictions. If nothing else, even just updating single-paned windows will make a difference to your utility bill.

You should also expect to spend more on home insurance, as historic properties contain features that are harder to replace. There are specialized insurance companies that cater specifically to historic homes, but these tend to be more expensive.

Image by Leo_65 from Pixabay

Health Risks

With increased knowledge about chemicals and human health, building materials have changed considerably over the years. That historic property you have your sights set on may be full of lead paint, asbestos, and mold. To protect you and your family, you’ll want to hire someone to assess the building for these materials. If any are found, you’ll need to pay to have them removed. Many emergency water removal companies offer mold remediation, and while you may feel equipped to remove lead paint yourself, for your protection, you’re better off hiring a company that specializes in this area and has all the right equipment.

Despite these risks, many people find that the benefits of owning a period home outweigh the risks. As long as you make sure you factor these costly elements into your budget and are aware that you’ll likely encounter costs you did not foresee, you’ll be well equipped in your search for the perfect historic property to become your next home.

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