Fixing Up an Older Home: Where to Start?

Fixing up a home

Older homes are full of character, but they can also be full of problems. If you recently bought an old house, you may be discovering a lot of deferred maintenance and issues you didn’t spot in the home inspection. With so much to be done, where do you start?

Urgent Problems: What to Fix First

Some repairs can’t be delayed without creating much bigger, much more expensive problems. If your older home has one of these issues, address it ASAP:

  • Roof leaks: Water seeping through the roof can weaken structural integrity, damage insulation, and contribute to mold growth. Even minor leaks should trigger a call to the roofing company.
  • Peeling caulk: Peeling caulk around bathroom fixtures, sinks, and windows creates another opportunity for moisture to seep in and mold to grow. Recaulking fixtures is a good DIY project for novices and only requires a few inexpensive tools.
  • Mold: Speaking of mold, it’s not just unsightly; it’s also harmful to your health. Mold worsens allergy and asthma symptoms and may make you sick. Small spots of mold can be cleaned with a solution of bleach and water, but outsource larger mold problems to a mold remediation company. The addition of an air purifier like the LakeAir Maxum can help eliminate mold spores in the air
  • Termites: Termites eat and breed in wood, but because their damage starts inside building materials, you might not notice termites until a serious infestation has developed. Call a termite company the second you see termites. If you catch the problem early enough, you could pay between $217 and $868 for termite treatment, but delaying could mean expensive structural damage to the home.
  • An old chimney: You don’t have to repair an old chimney right away but don’t use it until you do. Older chimneys weren’t built to the same standard as modern chimneys and may be dangerous to use. Before lighting a fire, have the chimney professionally inspected, lined, and repaired.

Catching Up on Deferred Maintenance

If you’re lucky, your old home doesn’t have any major problems. However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Old houses often have deferred maintenance, meaning the previous owners didn’t maintain or replace things on schedule.

Take note of the age and condition of these systems, then compare them against This Old House’s list to determine what’s due for replacement.

  • Roof
  • Siding
  • Air conditioner
  • Furnace
  • Water heater
  • Water softener

It’s also wise to test old homes for lead paint and asbestos. Here are 3 simple ways to get rid of indoor air pollution in that older hone. These aren’t urgent issues unless you have young children or lead paint that’s peeling and chipped, but it’s important to be aware of lead and asbestos before remodeling an old house.

Home Improvements to Put Off (or DIY)

When buying an older home, most people look forward to updating the wallpaper and carpets, not the roof and HVAC system. But while cosmetic repairs are the most exciting, they’re also the least urgent.

The good news? If necessary repairs eat up your home improvement budget, you can DIY a lot of cosmetic upgrades to save money.

These old home upgrades are great for DIY:

  • Removing wallpaper and repainting.
  • Replacing faucet, door, and cabinet hardware (new knobs will run you anywhere from $2 to $20).
  • Installing light switch plates.
  • Painting or staining cabinets.
  • Installing new light fixtures.
  • Removing carpet and refinishing hardwood.

When your remodeling budget is replenished, turn your attention to these projects that require professional labor:

Stepping into an old home sends your head spinning with renovation ideas. But before you can start thinking about interior design, you need to get your old house into fighting shape. By prioritizing urgent repairs and deferred maintenance over design upgrades, you get your new old house livable — even if that floral wallpaper isn’t exactly lovable.

Image via Rawpixel

Article Compliments of : Bret Engle —