Inspecting an Old House: The Series

Evaluating an old house is a process of compromise. The need for minor repairs like painting, scrubbing tile, and freeing stuck windows may disqualify a house if its over-all appeal to you is only marginal, while major work like foundation and roofing repairs may seem acceptable if you have found an extraordinary old house.
This post will kick-off a series dedicated to doing your own old house inspections with instructions and techniques that not only apply to older homes but new ones as well.

Many old houses are incredibly sound; in by-gone eras the cost of top-grade materials and labor was low and pride in craftsmanship was high. But making a thorough and objective inspection of any house that you are considering buying is a wise approach for two reasons; to make sure there are no fatal flaws that disqualify buying at all, and to arrive at a realistic estimate of the renovations you will face.
Timing and Equipment
Give yourself a full two hours for inspection and demand this from a homeowner. Better to uncover the worst in the house now rather than later. As your inspection will be primarily visual you should bring these tools with you; binoculars for examining details on the roof, an ice pick or awl for probing rotting wood, a tape measure, a plug-in analyzer for checking electrical outlets, a flashlight, a magnet to test types of metal in plumbing, 15-foot length of string and thumbtacks for inspecting sags or bulges in framing, matches for checking drafts in a furnace flue, and a pencil and paper for notes.
Now you’re ready to inspect!!!
More next week.

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