Inspecting older or historic homes
I can tell you, this is quite a challenge. Most of them were built before modern building codes, with different techniques and materials.
When I do an inspection, the age of the home will not influence me pointing out defects or safety issues. There’s no excuse for a missing balustrade or smoke detectors. Sometimes I hear “it was good for the last 100 years”, maybe true maybe not.
Do you know for sure that nobody died of smoke inhalation?
Building codes and standards are a learning process and an attempt to make a home safer, healthier and more efficient. In older or historic homes, modern building codes can’t be applied. The main stairs might be not wide enough, the foundation is different and this list is going on and on. If changes can be made - great, if not you should at least know about it.
So, why would I point out a very small stairway going to the attic space? In case of a fire, a fire fighter cannot get through. Sometimes, small staircases are a trap for them.
In older homes, you will find different materials, some perform really well, but unfortunately, some should be removed, or secured.
Did you know that the old thermostats have a mercury bubble?
That almost all of the older paints contain lead?
Old wiring and pipe insulation were made out of asbestos? Some roofing materials and siding as well.
Should you panic if I point that out? Not necessarily!
But some corrections would be good idea to keep
you and your family safe.
One of the big myths is that you always have mold in older houses. That is actually true, you also have it in newer houses. But older houses are built different, you have more air circulation, moisture can dry out. The newer homes are more energy efficient, they are sealed and there is no margin for mistakes. Again, older houses are more forgiving.
It all comes down to that you need a good home inspector who understands this, and that he understands how every part of a home acts or reacts to any changes. For example, modifications and add-ons, these are the biggest problems – unless you have a really good contractor.
I love the challenge of inspecting older, historic homes and currently I’m renovating one of them.
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Hi - this is Werner with Home Inspection Tennessee