You’ve found it! The ideal home has been located and buying it seems to be a dream come true. However, this home is older and has various aspects that come with homes that have been built decades prior. Lead paint has recently become a concern, as have other such safety hazards. Before purchasing, it’s important to know how to tackle more difficult problems that can accompany older homes in order to ensure safety and in order to keep this beautiful, newly acquired home from becoming a residential nightmare.
To begin with, it’s a good idea to have an inspector check out a home prior to purchase. The urgency behind this advice increases with every year the home has been around, peaking in homes that have been around for several decades or longer. Because the construction of homes was regulated less in yesteryear, homes may not be up to the same standards as homes built in today’s world are. This means that the structure should be assessed for any potential flaws (i.e. dry rot in log homes or leaking in the pipes due to age and smaller size of piping) as well as looking for problems like black mold or lead paint. Knowing is half the battle, so if the problems that arise during an inspection seem to be easy to fix or at least manageable, they can mean the potential for purchasing a home at a reduced cost.
If buying a home with the intention of restoring it sounds like your cup of tea, try not to be too concerned by what comes back in the report. Many homes have been brought back to life by people who were willing to work a bit and deal with problems that others from which others shy away. Most troubles can be fixed, but it takes a bit of gumption and elbow grease, plus a little bit of cash. For example, lead paint was commonplace in the 1960s- before the dangers of this product had really become well known. Even after that time, lead paint has still been in use occasionally, though recent laws severely limit the amount that is still being used due to the inherent dangers that can come from accidental inhalation or ingestion.
When facing the problem of eliminating lead paint in a home, there are many ways to test- from store bought tests to contacting agencies that are specialized in finding lead paint. These methods aren’t always sure-fire ways to know, however, so if there is a doubt then it’s better to be safe than sorry. This mainly applies to homes where the paint is not intact. If the paint is cracking, then removing it is a good idea, but it’s important to wear safety gear due to the risk of lead dust inhalation. Paint that is not coming up is less dangerous, so keeping it on the wall can be a better option as far as safety goes because there isn’t as high a chance of kicking the lead particles into the air.
Since there are professionals who deal with many problems including lead paint removal, it may be worth the money to pay to have the paint stripped from the rooms in question as well as from doors, baseboards, and window sills. If you are careful, you can do it yourself but it may be a more frustrating and long process than you bargained for. Just remember that safety comes first, so wear protective gear and be thorough in cleaning before moving furniture back into a room that has recently had its lead paint stripped.
Asbestos is another concern for homes that have been standing for a long while. 1975 brought with it the extinction of using it in construction (for a majority of homes, at least), but it didn’t take away the dangers that come from living in a home built prior to the 70s. Many areas of the home could have been built with asbestos, from floor to ceiling to attic insulation. Taking care with this type of chemical is advised because it can lead to lung cancer with prolonged exposure. Guidelines that apply to lead paint also apply to asbestos- when the product is intact, it can be more dangerous to disturb than to leave it alone. However, damaged sections of asbestos can cause respiratory issues, so search for these areas and take care when removing them. Even water damage can dislodge fibers, so any and all problems, of this sort, should be taken seriously. Contacting professionals is one of the best ways to get rid of asbestos, so steer clear of any areas that have crumbling or damaged sections until the problem can be cared for. After removal, there shouldn’t be as much of a danger, so keep up with the removal as the need arises. Another option that can be used in certain cases involved coverage of the asbestos in order to keep pieces from breaking off and causing trouble. Speaking with a professional can help to decide if covering or removing is the best route.
Old homes have their charm. They are a great way to preserve a bit of history, and they can be quite unique in their layouts. The dangers that may lurk in a home may not be as apparent, but inspections can point out things that need fixing. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying the use of a home that is as unique. Keeping on top of safety hazards can be a great help. In the end, you’ll likely be happy with your purchase.