Old Craftsman Style Home 

Sometimes it really is the case that they don’t make them like they used to…sometimes it’s not! When considering the possibility of buying  an older home in East Austin it’s important to keep in mind issues that could affect the livability of the house as well as the resale value. A good inspector is essential so you can be in the know…I definitely do not recommend purchasing a home without a thorough home inspection first!  Having said that, here are some issues to be aware of in older construction.


Building Material

Watch out for asbestos in older siding, drywall mud, and mastic (glue) used for flooring applications. Asbestos has been banned in construction use today but persists in older homes. Asbestos containing material is generally not a hazard unless it is disturbed (ex. Removing old siding, drywall or flooring).

Damaged Asbestos Siding

Damaged Asbestos Siding-Courtesy of Nachi.org

Also lead based paint can be an issue for homes that were built before 1978. Lead based paint is generally not a hazard unless it is ingested, so this can be problem with children, although most of this older paint is likely contained by the layers of lead free paint that have since covered it up.


Mechanical Systems

Older home systems such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (air conditioning), can of course break down or fail as they age. It is important that these systems are checked by a qualified inspector so you can feel comfortable that they are in adequate shape and will last while you live in the home.  Here are some tips: 


  • Watch out for aluminum wiring in older homes.  This type of wiring requires additional precautions. Steps can be taken to mitigate the issues with this type of wiring but will likely require a licensed electrician to retrofit the older electrical system.  Click here for more info regarding aluminum wiring.
  • Watch out for Federal Pacific electrical panels.  These panels are known to have had issues with the breakers not tripping when they are supposed to.  This can of course be a big fire hazard.  Many people still have these panels and have not had any issues however...but it's something to look out for and to consult an electrician about.  Click here for more info.
  • Watch out for cast iron drain pipes.  A lot of older homes in the area have cast iron drain pipes installed. I've run into this problem with the main drain pipes in some East Austin homes. The issue is this piping degrades over time, and can eventually collapse.  Tree roots and other obstructions can break up the pipe as well over time.  It's possible the cast iron piping will need to be replaced by PVC.  Click here for more info.

Broken Cast Iron Piping

Broken Cast Iron Piping-Courtesy of http://drain-experts.ca/

  • Check out my other post regarding East Austin foundations.  This is one of the biggest issues we deal with around here regularly, and it's important to be informed about the different issues that can arise.

Click here for a good article that has info on typical life spans of the major mechanical systems.


Outdated Building Codes

What was built back then wasn't built with the same rules we have today! As knowledge has been obtained through the years, the construction codes have adapted as a result. It is important to see what is up to code in the home and what is not so a determination can be made on the safety and importance of updating these out-of-date methods. Some of these issues might not be a big deal at all, others can be potentially dangerous, like grounding issues, etc. A knowledgeable inspector will notice these code issues and report on what should be fixed.