Are you considering buying an old house? If so, you’ll need to read through our list of 16 things to consider when buying an old house.

Unlike newer homes, inspecting an older home and major components of an older home are much different task. Remember, these homes have been standing for 50 years or more! The home could have had 10 different owners during that time and sometimes you’d be surprised (or not) about what you’d find!

This table of contents will give you a categorized few of things to consider when buying an older home:

  1. Insurance

Your insurance company may have additional questions to ask you. Older homes are made with materials that may be at, or near the end of their life span. Or even dangerous! Insurance companies may not cover you, or charge you a premium. Click here to find out more insurance tips

Foundation type

Homes have gone through many types of foundation types: stone, concrete block, poured foundations and more. Basements are not meant to be finished as they were often damp. There are pros and cons to all types of foundation types throughout the years.


Early wiring in an old house was knob and tube, 1960’s likely has aluminum. Modern day is copper. Depending on your wiring, you could have insurance issues. Read here to find out more about knob and tube wiring

Sump pump

Century homes with basements that are dug out or made of stone or rubble foundation don’t usually have a sump pump. Sump pumps take excess water from a sump and pump it up and outside the home, preventing flooding. Should you have a sump pump? Read here to find out!

General maintenance

Building an old house means you’re up for performing ongoing maintenance. You should be putting aside funds to deal with these issues and anticipate problems before they happen. Some people update older homes over time, while others like to keep the original charm, for instance. Read more about general home maintenance here.

Previous renovations

Buying an old house that have been around for multiple generations likely have previous renovations. Some are higher quality than others or in configurations that are not ideal for you, as an example. It could be that you need to undo what a previous owner has done in order to achieve the result you want. Here are some renovations that you should consider doing for modern day and future resale.

Old windows

Many consider old wood windows to be superior to many of the vinyl windows made today. Many old windows have removable storm windows that were added and taken out depending on the season. If your windows are old and drafty, it may be time to consider investing in new windows, which can be expensive.


Is asbestos safe? The word “asbestos” typically scares people buying an old house. However, it’s a great product that’s been around for many years. In older homes you can find it in vents, plaster, to wrap pipes, ceiling tiles, flooring, exterior siding and even accidentally in some vermiculite insulation. Click here to see what asbestos looks like


What is vermiculite and do I need to get rid of it if I have it in my home? Not necessarily. It should be tested to ensure it isn’t contaminated with asbestos. Click here to see what it looks like

Lack of insulation

Many older homes had double bricks, but nothing in between that cavity. This means it gets colder quicker in the winter and your bills will increase. There are many ways to address this though and sometimes the government offers incentive to offset the costs to homeowners, as an example.


These little bugs can be a big problem if they’re in your house. They can cause structural damage or re-sale problems down the road. Talk to your municipality to get an idea if termites (or carpenter ants!) are in the area.

Protected architecture

In many downtown urban areas, you’ll find homes that may be municipally protected due to their unique architecture. If you buy and old home with one of these designations, you can’t just demolish it and must maintain it in a specific way. Read here

Room sizes and layouts

Homes in 1890, or even bungalows built in the 1950’s weren’t used the same way we use homes today. In fact, many older homes didn’t even have garage. Modern amenities mixed with smaller rooms sometimes changes or limits the flow of a house. Click here to see what layouts looked like over the years!

Furnace vs boiler systems

Which is better, a furnace or boiler? In this blog post, we point out things to consider with each of these systems when buying an old house, from efficiencies to benefits and limitations. As an example: old radiators get hot, something that may be dangerous for children.

Old vs new construction

The age old debate: do I buy the charm (and maybe problems) of an older house, or do I just buy a new pre-construction home and some of the quirks that come with it? We outline some of the pros and cons, check out buzzbuzzhome for lots of ongoing projects

Do I get a home inspection?

Where ever possible, it’s advised to get a home inspection on an older home. In this blog post, we go through some of the home inspections aspects. It’s worth noting that home inspectors don’t get in depth on any specific item above, and only inspect what is visible. Home inspections are typically 3hrs in length and cost about $500.

Old homes can be a huge plus for some people but it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering purchasing an old home in Guelph, get in touch! We are real estate agents in Guelph and sell many homes in the downtown area of Guelph and would be happy to help.

Beth and Ryan Waller are Guelph Realtors with Home Group Realty