People often ask, “What it is you like so much about inspecting historic properties?” Historic homes have so much character because they take us back to a time when homes were custom built to suit an individual or a family’s needs. Sometimes they were built to suit a first-generation American and reflected the design that has roots in their home country. These types of homes represented stability within the family and in the 19th and early 20th century they were frequently built so the owner could live in the house for the rest of their life and leave it to their children to raise their families after they were gone. These homes take you back to a different time where a home was more than just a possession, it was a legacy.
Historic Builds vs. Modern Building Practices
Make no mistake about it, the “cookie cutter” homes of today exist for many reasons. First of all, modern homes take advantage of the advances made in modern building science by addressing things like moisture intrusion and energy efficiency. Additionally, it makes it much easier to do repairs when the materials you need to update can readily be obtained at the big box stores. I always tell people that whenever you have to ask why a modern home is built a certain way it was because it was cheaper and easier for the builder to do it that way. That was not the case with historic homes since many modern building practices didn’t exist until the post-World War II era.
A Historic Homes Character is Earned
At Old Line Home Inspections, we love historic homes. We also know that it requires a special touch that involves extra time be spent on the foundation and support structures. Sometimes a historic home can cause a homebuyer to take on a little more than they bargained for. Uncovering structural issues during an inspection can be a major disappointment to a home buyer, but is does not have to be that way. If the homebuyer knows about the deficiency ahead of time, they can bring in structural specialists and engineers to put together a repair plan and cost. If you contact the right people, free estimates are available BEFORE you go to closing on the house. Knowing about these costs ahead of time is so important since it can be factored into the overall purchase price of the home. I have seen many older homes that have been saved for future generations by repairing foundations and floor joists in the basement as well as additional truss and rafter supports in the attic.
Other Special Considerations in Historic Homes
The plumbing and electrical components of the home also need special attention and we work with homebuyers to put together a plan that addresses things like outdated plumbing and ungrounded electrical outlets. We also utilize infrared, moisture meters and our experience to find any air or water leakage that can cause condensation and moisture issues. People who buy historic homes know that there are some sacrifices that need to be made but no one is expected to live in a house that is unsafe or unhealthy.
The Historic Home Inspection
While a regular home inspection takes 2-1/2 to 3 hours to complete, historic home inspections should take upwards of 3 hours depending on the size of the home. At Old Line Home Inspections, we also do water quality testing, radon testing, mold air sample testing, well and septic inspections that can make it take a little longer as well. Our goal is to contribute to the historic home community by working with homebuyers to develop sensible solutions and curve-fit modern practices to age-old building issues.