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3 Things To Inspect Before Buying A Historic House

Are you in the market for a historic house? Historic homes are wonderfully fascinating and charming places to live. They have character that newer houses just can't duplicate. Plus, it's am amazing feeling to know you're living in a house that has seen a century or more go by. Imagining the people who lived there through the years and what they must have seen and experienced is intriguing, and living in the house lets you get an idea of how these people actually lived their day to day lives in the past. It's almost like having a time machine.

You're probably excited about getting your historic house. Just remember that not every old home is in good repair. Unless you're willing to commit a lot of money to making upgrades and restoring it to its original glory (with modern conveniences added), you should make sure the house is in liveable condition before you move in. Here are three things you absolutely must inspect before making the purchase.

1. The Plumbing

Some really old houses haven't even been updated to include plumbing. Unless the house is of particular historical significance (or unless you just love it too much to not buy it), you should avoid a house that needs to have plumbing installed. That's an added expense you don't need.

Other historic houses have plumbing, but it may be very old. You should get a plumber to come out and inspect it for you; some companies may even offer a free plumbing checkup. Many companies offer a free plumbing checkup, so take advantage of that if you can find it in your area.

If only minor repairs are needed, you can hire a plumbing contractor to do the work before you move in. If you're really lucky, the plumbing will be relatively new and need no repairs at all.

2. The Structure

According to, many historic homes have structural issues. If they are minor, you might be able to make the purchase work without having to spend a fortune on repairs. However, if the problems are major, it is better to just let the house go and look for something different. The logistics of repairing major structural issues on a historic home just aren't worth it in most cases.

This means you need to get both the walls, roof, and foundation inspected before committing to buy the house. Major problems in any of these areas, such as termites, asbestos in the walls or roof, a crumbling roof, or a cracked foundation will make the house unsafe to live in until they are repaired. There are plenty of other historic homes without these issues. Buy one of those.

3. Local and National Restrictions

Inspecting the restrictions associated with the house is just as important as inspecting the physical aspects of the house itself. Some historic houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and have federal restrictions placed on them regarding what types of repairs and changes you can make to them.

Other houses are parts of local historic districts. Each historic district across the country has its own unique restrictions on what it allows owners of historic houses to do with the properties. Restrictions can be strict or very easy going.

You need to know the restrictions on a house before you buy it. If you don't approve of the restrictions, you won't be happy living in the house, and should look elsewhere for your historic home


Once you buy the perfect historic house for you, it is something you are sure to love for many years to come. You didn't set out to buy a historic home because you hate history, after all. You will find your experience of living in your home a very fulfilling one, but only if you've done your homework beforehand by doing the proper inspections.

Once you're satisfied with the results of all three of these inspections, you will know you've found the historic house of your dreams. Go ahead and buy it with total confidence.