What to expect when buying an older home

You often hear people say that they “want a home with character.” They are looking for something with a big yard that isn’t just a regular cookie cutter home that you tend to see in new neighbourhoods. Who wouldn’t want to live in a Victorian-style home in an established neighbourhood? However, after you get an older house inspected and see the report, you may notice that it’s going to take a little more than a fresh coat of paint to make it into the home of your dreams. If the repair costs are more than you bargained for, don’t be afraid to go back and negotiate the final sale price. If you’ve decided buying an older home is right for you, here are a few things you might need to budget for:

  • Roofs, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers don’t last forever; in older homes, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need to replace at least one of them. Replacing any of these features isn’t cheap. You should expect to spend between $5,000-$15,000 on a roof, $3,000-$8,000 on a furnace, $5,000-$15,000 on a boiler and $2,500-$6,000 on a new air conditioning system.
  • Foundation cracks can also be fairly costly. With that said, cracks may not mean structural issues; ensure that they are watertight to avoid issues when it rains. If they do need fixing, it can cost a few hundred dollars for cosmetic repairs or upwards of $10,000 for structural issues.
  • Electrical and plumbing elements in older houses are often obsolete and require something more modern and safer to be installed. Rewiring can be pricey, running into the tens of thousands of dollars for multi-storey homes. You need to remove the old wires and pipes, put in new materials, create new holes in walls and then close them up again. It’s a long process that can really add up.
  • Keep an eye on the windows; just because they are originals doesn’t mean they need to be replaced. If you are looking to upgrade to something that is more energy efficient or provides a new look, is prepared to spend upwards of $500 per window.
  • Do a full sweep for asbestos and lead paint. In older homes, there may still be remnants from when these were both used regularly in construction. Asbestos isn’t always a bad thing. If it’s in the drywall joint compound, it shouldn’t be a problem, but if it’s in the attic, it could be dangerous.

Home inspections can be scary, but trust your realtor to guide you through the process of renegotiations to make sure you’re still paying a price that you’re comfortable with. Don’t let a poor home report scare you off from moving into your dream home. If you’re willing to put in the work and make the home something you’re proud of, it could be a great project for you to take on.



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