People who buy old houses always need to understand that their new old house could require a significant amount of work. Updates, upgrades, and modern conveniences may need to be added or altered. However, your first goal should be to address critical functions of the house to ensure it is safe and secure for you and your family.


An aging house with an older roof will likely need to be inspected. You can probably count on the fact that there will be missing or damaged shingles and possibly even exposed parts of the roof structure. There might even be water damage in the attic or trickling in through the walls as a result of malfunctioning gutters and downspouts. Check the entire roof, under the eaves, and even the chimney for problems that need to be fixed right away to prevent further water damage.


The home’s foundation should be examined for signs of deterioration. The stones or cement could be crumbling, slanting, or becoming dislodged due to weather factors and soil shifting. Make sure the ground slopes away from your basement rather than toward it. The foundation structure should be intact, and you should plan to treat any water seepage in the basement along with mold growth. You might want to waterproof the basement while fixing the other problems.


Contact a licensed electrician to assess the home’s electric panel and wiring. Older homes often need electrical repairs. For example, you may need to update or replace frayed wires and add wall outlets at the appropriate height from the floor. Grounded outlets or higher voltage lines may be necessary, which the electrician can handle for you. The electric box might also need to be updated, especially if you added new electrical lines, and all electric lines labeled for easy reference. If needed, the electrician can install electricity in an outbuilding like a garage or shed.


Older plumbing can cause several types of problems. Galvanized water pipes might be corroded and need to be replaced. If the house is connected with city water and sewer lines, water lines running from the street to the house could be damaged underground. Fixing them could require excavation. Leaky pipes may need to be fixed or replaced. Look for signs of mold growth on the walls, floors, or ceilings, which may indicate unseen plumbing leaks that need to be investigated.

Take care of these major areas before redecorating the home. You might also need to have a termite inspection and an HVAC evaluation. Work with licensed professionals to ensure everything in your new old home is up to code.