Prospective homeowners, when they browse the properties on the real estate market, tend to feel instinctively attracted to old houses. A house that has been the home of many generations before yours is, in a way, trustworthy. Like the cuckoo that uses another bird’s nest to build up its family, homeowners feel more confident about the homeliness of a place if it has already been a home to others. Old homes have a lot of secrets to reveal. You can peel the wallpaper to read inscriptions on the wall – maybe marking the height of the children. You can find old toys, forgotten in the attic, long before you bought the house. For new homeowners, it feels like walking through a photo album that tells the story of the house.
In short, there is no denying that old properties are appealing. But at the same time, it’s essential to understand life in an ancient home is not always easy. Over time, buildings degrade and require constant maintenance to remain safe and sturdy. If you are in the process of purchasing an old house as your family home, you need to be aware of the many ways in which the property could affect your health.
Your house is a cold energy vampire
Energy-efficiency is a
relatively new concept. Unless your property has been renovated with
environmental rating in mind, it is likely to be a silent energy vampire. It’s a good idea to check whether your appliances and
heating system are the best they could be. The quirky, old cooker in the
kitchen, left by the previous owner, could drain your energy consumption, for
instance. The ancient heater could be another common culprit, especially if it
hasn’t been serviced in a long time. However, before you consider installing a
new heating system to make sure the house stays warm in winter, you need to
check your insulation. Old homes tend to lack insulation under the roof – you
can lose up to 30% of the heat through the roof and the walls – which makes it
tricky to maintain its temperature. Until they can upgrade their insulation
solutions, most homeowners can struggle with feelings of fatigue and soreness,
as a result of their body constantly trying to fight the sensation of cold.
It could have been built using harmful materials
It’s crucial to know that our understanding of building materials has not always been what it is today. Old properties were often built using materials that were later proven to be harmful, such as lead pipes or even asbestos in the wall – to act as insulation. Typically, a house that has been recently renovated to include new insulation or plumbing system is likely to have removed all health hazards. However, if you’re buying an abandoned or inhabited property that has been recently put on the market, things might be different. You can run a house inspection to be on the safe side and make sure that all health risks are evaluated. The presence of asbestos in the wall during your visit should not have any bearing on your health, as there was no direct exposure to the material. However, as an experienced mesothelioma attorney can confirm, the builders who work on the property either during its construction or as part of a renovation project to boost its value before selling may not have been as lucky. The bottom line is that a home inspection is a priority before buying or renovating.
There’s always something that breaks
Things break in every home. However, when you buy an old house, things are more likely to break frequently. It is, after all, in the nature of old things to break. But, as a homeowner, it can be extremely stressful to go through long periods of bad luck when you need to replace one unit after the other. Imagine you notice a wet patch on the floor, and you come across a leaking pipe. As the house structure is old, the humidity has rapidly infiltrated through the floor and the wall, which forces you to change the insulation that has been affected in the process. Additionally, your plumber might have to replace huge portions of your pipe systems instead of swapping only one pipe. Besides, your floor now needs some repair work. Chronic stress becomes your new way of life when you always worry about what could break next.
It keeps you awake at night
Unsettling bangs in the middle of the night. Suspicious creaks and squeaks as if a ghost were wandering around. Popping and gurgling inside the walls when everything else is silent. Your home sweet home can get vocal, especially at night time when everyone is quiet. Unsurprisingly, it can keep you awake if you are a light sleeper. Besides, it likely to interfere with your sleeping patterns, waking you up in between cycles. Exhaustion doesn’t begin to describe how you’ll feel after a few sleepless nights.
There’s a lot of moisture in the air
The combination of an old structure and poor insulation practice can affect the permeability of your walls and roof. Old houses can experience water infiltration on rainy days. Unfortunately, if the infiltration is small and contained, you may not get to see the signs of water damage until it affects your health. When the level of humidity in the air increases, it creates a welcoming environment for mold patches. Unfortunately, the patches can get unnoticed if they are under your furniture, or growing in remote areas of the house such as the attic or the basement. But the spores can travel and cause respiratory distress and allergies.
Indoor air pollution is a thing too
Lastly, your indoor air quality could be at risk even if you’ve worked with a home inspector to identify harmful materials. The presence of a chimney – which is typical for houses built before 1950 – is a must-have for homeowners. But did you know your old fireplace can leak carbon monoxide and fine particles that affect your heart and lungs?
As charming as old homes can be, they are also a ticking bomb for your health if they are not maintained appropriately. If you are considering buying an old property, you should make sure that it has been renovated to the highest health and safety standards.