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Louisville, KY
reply to peterboro

Re: What to expect on a 50 year old house

I'll take my 1959 built home over a relatives 1998 built home....the quality of workmanship is far superior as are the materials. With good bones a house can last several lifetimes.....


said by doechsli:

I'll take my 1959 built home over a relatives 1998 built home....the quality of workmanship is far superior as are the materials. With good bones a house can last several lifetimes.....

Same here, we looked at a few new homes and then decided on a 1969 built home. The new one looked fancy.. but looking behind the scenes (in the mechanical room) you could see how cheap it was built.

Let me see those devil horns in the sky

Kill Devil Hills, NC
·Verizon FiOS
reply to iLearn

I rented a brand new house a few years back. I can tell you new construction has as many issues as my 1960's house. New construction you run into settling so cracks possible anywhere from the foundation to the drywall. You can run into doors and closets that aren't square so doors don't close right. You have no idea if the basement will flood. The new houses being built across the street from us don't come with gutters. You get a contractor grade lawn. They also don't come with plants or trees. Even then it will takes years or decades to get a nice shade tree or privacy from shrubs. Often times you get far less land with a new house then an old house as well. The new houses across the street from us get around 7,500 sq. ft. for their backyard. We have about 60,000 sq. ft. behind our house. Developers know they can make more money by packing houses closer to get more houses on the land.
IF YOU FIND ANY MISTAKES IN MY WORK...Please consider that they are there for a purpose. I try to please everyone and there is always someone looking for mistakes!


reply to djrobx


said by djrobx:

Holes had formed in the cast iron, and the clay sewer pipe had been infiltrated by roots. We paid for all of these repairs.

Good idea to run a camera down the sewer line. Otherwise, you could be buying this - »Sewer line repair


Reading, MA
reply to iLearn

50 years old as in 1963?

Asbestos... could be floor tiles, original counter tops, backsplashes, some ceiling tiles, pipe wrap, vermiculite insulation, exterior shingles...

Lead paint will almost certainly be there...

Ungrounded wiring...

Abandoned in-ground oil tank...

Any pipes in the slab...

How many layers of shingles on the roof? Around here you're allowed up to 2 layers... at 50 years old it might have a 2nd layer and be getting ready for a new roof which will be more expensive with 2 layers of tear off...

Underground Sewer and Water mains are usually getting near the end of their lives at 50-60 years (I'm facing that with my 1949 house)


Welland, ON
·Start Communicat..
reply to iLearn

We bought a house built in the late 50's in the Niagara region about 3 years ago and have been doing some renovations. A few things to look out for, some because of the age, some just because it's not new. Some have been touched on by others already.

-Ungrounded wiring: our place had some updated electrical, some original
-Cast iron/clay drain pipes: as someone else mentioned, it would help to get them inspected for cracks/roots before purchasing. If they're in good shape, there's no rush in replacing.
-Furnace: If it's old, get it inspected by an HVAC contractor. We knew ours was old, but figured it was still working so we had a few years. Turns out it had a cracked heat exchanger that we didn't know about till a year after we bought the house.
-Water heater: same as furnace. Also, check if it's a rental and don't take the seller's word on it; check with the utility company. We were told ours was a rental and when we realized it sucked and wanted it replaced, the utility company told us it wasn't rented.
-Roof: Any home inspector will tell you how much life the current shingles have.
-Mortar: If it's a brick house, check the condition of the mortar. It might need repointing. If water gets into holes in the mortar and freezes, it'll cause more damage. If bees get in there, that's not fun either.
-Water in the basement: Ask about water problems in the basement, especially if the house is in a low area. Ask if any foundation repairs have been done, like waterproofing, and if so, ask whether the whole foundation was waterproofed, or only part.

As someone else said, it's often not the original building you have to worry about; it's the renovations done since. That was the case in our house. Almost every renovation that was done in our house had things horribly wrong done: a joist cut and not properly reinforced, drains in the basement vented into the ceiling (without an air admittance valve), an electrical splice hanging loose in the wall, both hot and neutral wires tied to the same side of an outlet.

Our house does have original fibreglass insulation, though it's not great.

Always remember that you can put anything in the purchase agreement. If you ask the seller about any repairs that were done, and they say certain things were fixed, put that in the purchase agreement. You can state that you're purchasing the house with a fully functional and safe furnace and/or water heater and/or sump pump, or water pump if there's a pool in the backyard. If you find out later that some things aren't as they said they were, it's a lot easier to go back to them if it's in the purchase agreement. Otherwise it turns into a he said/she said game and you'll probably end up swallowing the cost.

This probably all sounds scary, but even if there are things wrong with the house, it doesn't mean you shouldn't touch it. It just means you should subtract the cost of the repairs from the price of the house (or what the value of the house would be if it were fully upgraded). That is, of course, if you're willing to do the upgrades.


reply to iLearn


So I went to this house yesterday and here is what I found.

- It was block foundation. There were signs of moisture in the basement and some areas were damp.

- 2 layers of shingles on the roof of the addition at the back not sure if the main roof also had two layers of shingles.

- The electrical panel was a newer combination panel but I could not tell if they service size was 60 or 100 amps.

- Main water supply piping was galvanized steel but I did see some copper there as well. The basement was finished so could not tell much.

- I noticed that the outlets were 2 prong so I am assuming that they were all ungrounded.

- The exterior was in a great shape, I did not see any cracks or mortar damage.

Anyways, I thought I should post an update.

Thanks for all your comments.


Farmington, MI

Check the outlets again. The house I just purchased was built in 1959, and had 2-prong outlets everywhere. However after removing the outlets, I found that ground wires were in fact installed and grounding the metal retainer boxes. All I have to do is replace the outlets with self-grounding 3-prong outlets, and I'm all set. You may be just as lucky.

Check to see if you have any 3-prong outlets already in the basement and/or garage. If you do, there's a good chance ground wires were run to the rest of the outlets as well.

If not, you should check anyways. Only takes a screwdriver and a couple of minutes to take a look, and a VOM to insure the ground wires are actually connected at the breaker box.

I also ripped the old wood paneling off the wall in one of the rooms and found cruddy 1" thick cotton insulation. It's no good by today's standards (has an R4 rating) but given the age of the house I should be happy it has any at all.