6 things to consider when remodeling an old home

Old houses can definitely be charming, regardless of what period or style you’re into. Their history gives them character, and if they could talk, there would definitely be stories they could tell. However, time can take its toll on older homes, so there will always come a time when a renovation is very much needed. However, there are many risks that come with remodeling an old home. So, if you’re thinking of buying such a house and remodeling it for your own needs, here are some things you need to be aware of.

Structural problems

Uninhabitable farm house in the country
Some homes need serious work. Photo: mentrea, Pixabay

If the house you’re renovating happens to have any structural problems, like cracks in the foundations, for example, it could affect other aspects as well. After all, there’s nothing you can do with the walls or roof if the base itself is not strong enough. So, you’d probably need to improve the foundations by sealing the cracks, which also implies destroying the floor and repairing it later. Also, cracked foundations can be a source of radon, which is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally – and can cause cancer. In other words, remodeling such a home could be quite costly. Therefore, this is one of the things you should check before choosing which old house to buy, so you can either negotiate the price of it or adjust your own budget for the remodeling project.


Asbestos is one of the most infamous hazards in older homes, since it used to be used for insulation. This means that you can find it pretty much anywhere, from inside your walls to your ceiling tiles. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can get rid of it on your own – it’s highly toxic if inhaled, and it can be inhaled easily because the dried material crumbles. Moreover, asbestos can cause various diseases, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, if you do suspect that your home might have some asbestos in it, make sure to call the professionals. They can conduct asbestos air monitoring and removal, so you can continue with the remodeling safely.

Outdated plumbing

Close up of very old household plumbing
Old plumbing can be hard to deal with. Photo: MichaelGaida, Pixabay

Houses that were built before the 1960s mostly had galvanised pipes, which can corrode, wear out, and clog over time. This is something to keep in mind if the house you’re interested in buying has never been renovated before. You would probably need to replace the pipes.

Outdated wiring

The same can be said about electrical wiring, and this is a problem that should be taken seriously. Grounded electrical outlets were not always required, so there is a chance that your home’s outlets aren’t grounded. Your electrical box might need an upgrade as well, since older boxes were not made to withstand all the gadgets and appliances that we use today. In some cases, you might need to rewire the entire house, which would require professional help. This is something you shouldn’t even try doing on your own. Therefore, find a good electrician before you start remodeling, so you can have one less thing to worry about.


These pests can cause some major damage if you don’t notice them and get rid of them in time. You surely know that they feed on wood, and there’s a lot of wood in old homes. The worst thing about them is that they can be hard to spot – but there are signs. For example, if you notice that your door frames sound hollow or that there are blisters in the wooden flooring, you definitely need to check for termites.

Materials used to build your home

Close up of carpentry work
High-quality materials are what you want! Photo: Skitterphoto, Pexels

Now, this is more of a visual issue than a serious problem, but still, it’s something to look out for. After all, the reasons for buying an old house are aesthetic as well, so it’s not that it doesn’t matter – it’s just that it’s more of a nuisance than a problem. Anyway, the nuisance in question is the lack of materials that were used to build old houses. This means that if you want to revive the character of the home, it might be a bit tricky. The standards were also different, so even if you do find what you need, like thick oak flooring, for example, it might look completely different today than it did 50-80 years ago. This doesn’t mean that finding the materials in question is completely impossible. It just means that you might need to set aside some extra money for buying matching items and maybe even hiring remodeling professionals that specialise in older homes.

Remodeling an old home can be a fun project – but only if you take care of all the potential problems in time. So, keep in mind the listed issues, and your old house will look as good as new in no time.

Will Sanford
Will Sanford
I am a Sydney based wood architect, blogger and contributor on interior design and ecology blogs. Besides that, my interest is also in home improvement combined with green technology. In my spare time, I enjoy surfing, cycling and rock climbing. I am a regular contributor to SmoothDecorator.
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