5 Potential Problem Areas in Older Homes Inspections

When it comes to inspections for older homes there are certain considerations that must be taken into account. Learn about 5 potential problem areas home inspectors should consider when inspecting older homes.

5 Potential Problem Areas in Older Homes Inspections

When it comes to inspections for older homes, there are certain considerations that must be taken into account. These properties generally need more attention with respect to their foundations, structure, and electrical and plumbing systems. To ensure the overall quality of the home, it is essential to perform a home inspection before committing to the purchase. Older homes pose a challenge for home inspectors.

Whether the house is a designated “reference point” or not, you must balance your inspection considerations with the period of time the house was built and contemporary, acceptable building practices. During the buying process, be sure to keep an eye out for these five potential problem areas in older homes:Electrical System
Not only must ALL wiring be inspected for integrity (rodents can wreak havoc on old and new cables), but electrical boxes from the 1920s, or even the 1970s, are not designed to withstand modern electrical demands. Blowing a fuse every time you vacuum a carpet with the lamp on or with the heater on is horrible.


Big, beautiful, old trees are a treat to the eye and their shade is valuable in summer, but dead branches or invading roots can cost a small fortune when a storm hits and leaves a hole in the ceiling or punches a hole in the ground due to a lightning strike.

Septic System

They're out of sight, they're out of mind, but they still need maintenance, and if they did anything to the house in the 1960s and 70s, it's probably got asbestos.

Uneven Floors and Walls

We live in an Edwardian townhouse in London built in 1904 with a lot of character, but we're definitely starting to realize the drawbacks that come with a period property. Beyond what has already been mentioned, absolutely nothing is square in our house.

We have done some renovations and the trapezoidal nature of some of the rooms, uneven floors, walls, etc. I also chose a lot of highly geometric patterns for floors and carpets that really highlight the crooked shape of the rooms.


Asbestos was once considered a great insulator, but it has been shown to cause respiratory problems, sometimes leading to lung cancer. Be sure to remove all repetitive phrases and paragraphs from your final report that are not consistent with historic home inspections. The character, charm, and unique personality of old homes are undeniable and are just a few of the reasons why many homebuyers can't imagine moving to a new construction. During your first year as a homeowner, you'll want to keep surprises to a minimum and your pocketbook under control.

Have a professional determine exactly what the house currently has and what it needs to be more energy efficient. If you notice that the outlets in the house are not grounded (2 pegs), they will need to be changed to ground wiring. Pay attention to the parts of the house that have been exposed to the elements, such as the foundation, wall coverings and roof. A boiler simply heats hot water and sends it through lines that go to the radiators in each of the rooms to heat your home. In addition, you'll want to include special additions to your report to protect your position as a home inspector. This contingency should allow you to terminate the contract or negotiate repairs if a major or dangerous problem is discovered in the home.

When faced with these older systems, recommend a specialized inspection by a qualified electrical contractor. If a home has problems with its foundations, but you still want to move forward with the purchase, consider negotiating repair costs in the purchase price or accounting for additional repair costs in your budget.