Red flags when looking at purchasing an old home

What should one look for when purchasing an old home? If the owners have painted all the surfaces, how can you tell if there is underlying damage? What raises red flags in your mind? Is there a simple test to check that plumbing is adequate? What do YOU look for when you are buying, or advising someone on buying a home?

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Answers (2)

pauly • 2015

Visit the house when it's raining and check the attic. Had the good fortune to have this occur by chance while visiting a place that was in the top three on the "To purchase" list.

gregco • 2015

Just one thing, but most people don't think to look for this--look for adequate drainage. Is there enough fall off in the grade to get water away from the house during a rainstorm? My lot has poor drainage, the house is old (built in 1888) and the street level and alley have both risen several times since then and so there is so little fall off that it can flood the yard pretty quickly. Neither me nor the housing inspector saw this before we bought the house but it is obvious to me now. Then the neighbors 2 doors down scraped and plopped a mcmansion and changed the drainage on their lot which I think makes it even worse. We have had water in the basement twice and installed a sump, but it makes me worry everytime it rains.