6 Costs of an Older Home Buyers Forget to Account For

Many people love the charm and character of older homes. But the fact is that older homes may need a number of repairs to bring them up to contemporary building codes for safety and insurance purposes.

While you’re searching for homes and considering what you can afford, don’t forget to account for the cost of maintenance which is much higher for older homes. Here are 6 things that typically need to be updated in older homes.


In the past 100 years, electrical wiring in homes has changed radically. As recently as the 1930s, knob and tube wiring was the standard. If still in use, it should be replaced. Also, the home owner of today will need many more electrical outlets than were originally installed, and outdated fuse boxes must be replaced. A complete rewiring of an older home may very likely be a necessary expense.


Roofs tend to be ignored until something serious goes wrong, and a leaking roof may not be noticeable if the water is coming into an overlooked space. Subject to weather damage, a roof should be at the top of the list for repairs or replacement.

Plumbing and Pipes

Older homes are sure to need plumbing and pipe replacements. Water erodes what it flows through, and worn and rusty pipes are common. Further, the original plumbing system may not be adequate for modern appliances and multiple bathrooms.

Replacing plumbing in an older home involves opening walls and taking up floors, but leaky plumbing can have serious health and structural consequences. Be sure to work with professionals when it comes to fixing or replacing plumbing, say the experts at South West Plumbing.


Older homes have little if any insulation. Prior to the 1970s, energy was cheap and plentiful and the need to conserve was seldom considered. Drafty in winter and humid in summer, older homes and their owners will benefit from properly installed insulation that is appropriate for the local climate.


The windows in older houses were made with wooden frames. Over time, the wood warps and cracks, leaving gaps that let in cold and heat. While the windows are often a major part of the charm of an older house, they will most likely need to be repaired, if not replaced.

Heating and Cooling

Older houses are not energy-efficient. Old-fashioned furnaces burn fuel ineffectively and ducts may be damaged or unstable. Air conditioning, a necessity by modern standards, was not available to the average homeowner until the 1940s. For energy-saving comfort, a complete reworking of the heating and cooling system should be considered.

The expense and work required to update an older home may be daunting, but if the price is right then it’s all worth it. Work with a First Team Real Estate expert to help you identify good buys in your area that are worth the time and effort to update. Find an agent near you online or reach out and we’ll connect you with a market specialist in your neighborhood.

This guest post was written by Anita Ginsburg. Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about home, family, real estate and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing. 

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