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5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make when Purchasing an Older House

Are you looking to buy an older home, maybe a brick house? There are  5 mistakes people make that cost them thousands of dollars when purchasing an older home.

Many people are drawn to older houses that have authentic architecture. It’s easy to find houses over 100 years old with original woodworking or brickwork. There’s no shortage of gorgeous brick buildings in St. Louis City with lots of historic charm and character.

People can get caught up in the charm and so excited to buy their dream home they forget to do these 5 important things.

#1 Get a sewer lateral inspection

  • Most older city homes have cast iron and or clay pipes that dispose of water waste. These each have their issues!
  • Cast iron is susceptible to corrosion from the inside out. The only way to see the condition is from a sewer lateral inspection.
  • Clay pipes can crack and produce a leak over time from tree roots or shifting soil. The tree roots can also cause sewage backups. When this happens, instead of waste going to the sewer when you flush the toilet, it ended up in the basement. To prevent this, get a sewer lateral inspection and perform maintenance on the sewer line every year or so.


#2 Check the electrical

Older homes can often mean old and outdated electrical wiring. A qualified inspector will tell you the condition of the wiring and plumbing in the home. But there are things you can look at to help determine if there might be an issue by answering these questions.

  • Is the electrical box a fuze box or have circuit breakers?
  • Are outlet covers updated?
  • Do outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms have GFCI outlets?

These are indicators that the electrical wires are outdated and some loans require these things to be updated before closing on a house.


#3 Have a qualified person inspect the roof

A lot of homes in St. Louis City have flat roofs, and is important to know the condition of the roof before closing on the home. There are many reasons a flat roof may fail.

  • Settling of the house
  • Improper installation of flashing or patches
  • Pooling of water that can’t easily be drained
  • The roof has pasted its useful life can all cause leaks in a home, which is typically 10-20 years depending on the roof.

A common mistake is to notice water damage but assume the issue was resolved. Have a qualified flat roofer inspect the home to ensure the roof is not compromised in any way.


#4 Inspect for Tuck Pointing

Bricks are laid and bonded together with mortar. Over time due to sun light, rain, and erosion, the mortar starts to fall out. Leaving a gap between the bricks where air, rain, or critters could get in the home.

Tuck-pointing can be extremely expensive depending on the size and location of the area that needs new mortar. Easy fixes can cost only a few hundred dollars while more extensive work on an entire side of a building can cost over $10,000.

Luckily, this expense shouldn’t come at a surprise to you because when you view a house, you can walk around the exterior and notice if there are areas with eroded mortar, no mortar, or if it’s turning to a powder.

An experienced agent should be able to tell you if there’s a potential issue and recommend a qualified person to inspect its condition.


#5 Check the condition of the basement

As I recommend with all of these steps to take, please have a qualified person inspecting these potential issues. To spot any potential moisture, water, or mold issues in the basement you should.

  • Do the smell test. Does it smell musty?
  • Do the feel test. Does it feel damp? It could be a sign water regularly gets in the basement.
  • Do the eye test. Looking at the walls and floor. Are there any signs of water previously running through the basement?

If yes is the answer when doing these tests, you might want to go outside and see if the ground slopes towards the house, which allows water to run towards the house instead of away.  Most city basements are made of stone and aren’t great at sealing water, especially over time. Many basements will leak a little during heavy rains. However, it’s important to see the severity and if it could cause future problems.

This is a lot of information and may lead to you more questions than when you started. That’s ok! That’s why it’s important to have an agent who can spot and inform you of these potential issues and direct you to someone who’s qualified to answer those concerns.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or just looking for more information about houses in general. The Hartmann Home Team would love to assist you!

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