Purchasing a historic home can be a rewarding process. You and your family have the privilege of living in style and elegance, enjoying features and architecture that are unavailable in modern construction. Buying an older home can also be an expensive minefield, however, especially when it comes to water damage and the plumbing system. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you have the home thoroughly inspected so you don't wind up looking at unexpected and prohibitively expensive plumbing repair bills.
Discovering the Hidden Plumbing Repairs
One of the first things you want to check out in a historic home is the plumbing. Does the home still have cast iron, or even lead pipes installed? If so, you may have to consider pulling out the entire system and replacing it with more modern material like copper or PEX plastic. The sewer line is another point of concern – have a plumber inspect it with a camera to ensure that it hasn't broken or collapsed, which could allow sewage to back up into the home.
Even if the pipes are relatively up-to-date, there could still be hidden plumbing leaks that you should know about before you buy. And in addition to having the pipes and sewer line inspected, you should also check to make sure the house has adequate water pressure, and have the water tested to make sure it is safe to drink.
Water Damage all Over the House
Water damage can affect older homes in other ways besides just the plumbing. “The big enemy of a historic home, and I’m talking about something built prior to the ’20s and ’30s, is water,” historic preservation expert Peter Rudd told the Independent Record. Damaged roofs can allow water in from the top, and water in the ground can affect the integrity of the foundation.
To snuff out potential problems, look carefully on, around, and under the roof for any damage. For the interior, look for sagging or uneven ceilings or floors and keep an eye out for discolored spots that could indicate water damage. Pay a visit to the home after it rains to see if there is any moisture that gets inside, and watch whether water on the ground runs away from the house or instead pools up against the foundation.
Keeping Up with the Maintenance
If the home has been continuously occupied, it is likely to be in better shape than a house that has been empty for years. Make sure you ask for all the maintenance records from the previous owners and verify their claims with your inspector. And of course, even if a home has suffered water damage, you might decide it's worthwhile to buy anyway, but you need to at least be aware of the problems so you are prepared to deal with the plumbing repairs.
If you need an inspection of a home that you are considering purchasing, or require any other plumbing repairs, call up a respected plumber today.