02:12AM | 04/13/05
Member Since: 09/28/04
12 lifetime posts
What would be some problems I would find needing updating/repair in a house that was built in 1900?

Would the plumbing and electrical need a total overhall? Would asbestos be a consideration? What about heating? Anything else?


Take off your hat and stay awhile.


06:26AM | 04/13/05
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Hi Ladybug,

I assume you're looking into purchasing this home. I've owned a couple of older homes in the past (from the 20s/30s)--so here are a few of my thoughts to get some discussion going.

Yes, plumbing and electrical are a concern, but there's a good chance that some of the work has already been updated (you don't WANT to see what 1900 electrical looks like!) A good home inspector should be able to tell you a good bit of this. What is the amperage of the main breaker--or are there still fuses? The inspector should take off the panel cover and report on what kind of wiring he/she sees. I'd have the inspector take a really close look for "illegal" electrical connections, such as splices outside of junction boxes. In one old home we had, the electrical service had been updated--but a good deal of the older part of the home was still on one old circuit.

Other things: Insulation and windows. If those things are original, you are in for some high heating bills and some drafty winters. The sewer line might be needing attention--especially if there are large trees in its vicinity. How about the condition of bathrooms & kitchens: any evidence of moisture penetration? And there wouldn't be more than 2 layers of asphalt shingles on the roof, would there?

There could well be asbestos in the house; generally OK unless disturbed and particles go airborne. It can be a consideration come remodel-time.

Be sure and have a termite inspection.

I should also mention: No house is perfect, not even brand new. Good luck!


-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum


05:09PM | 04/23/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
plumbing: fresh water supply lines, could be made of anything, anything other than galvanized or copper has to be replaced, and generally galvanized collects calcium, rust, etc. and becomes clogged over time, so expect to replace it all, if lime, (calcium), iron (rust) or hard water issues exist.


Knob & Tube wiring, bare wiring, crystals, cloth insulated, ungrounded service, and everything since 1900 could abound. Expect to be replacing a lot of wiring and house service itself before that can begin.

Asbestos - most likely on 1930+ rehabs and on the hot water pipes feeding radiators, insulating boilers, and don't assume if forced air furnace that those ducts are fiberglass lined, if prior to the 80's, they're prolly asbestos lined. Lineolum or vinyl floors and their mastic, expect asbestos. Manufactured boards of anykind, expect asbestos. That "mica" type granular insulation anywhere -- is asbestos.

LEAD LEAD LEAD. Lead in the water lines, Lead paint, Lead everywhere. Solid and sheet lead flashing, faucets containing lead, you name it, if its the least bit metal, expect it contains lead or if painted, expect the paint has lead.

Don't plan on gardening anywhere near any structure, as old time termite control and other pesticides most likely permanently contaminate the soil near structures, and the lead paint makes any edibles grown there to surely contain lead. Humans, other animals and plants mistake LEAD for calcium and potasium and suck it up and hold it there permanently, as does your own body (bones, muscle tissue, and the like), so if this bueaty of a home also has you dreaming of vegetable and herb gardens just off the kitchen, plan on TOTAL CONTAINER gardening (or the raised/sealed "square foot gardening" methods) indefinately.

But...the charm and beauty of old time construction...and the careful restoration of same...can bring wonderful results...and a charm that new construction can't beat.

Good Luck to you.


10:10PM | 04/24/05
Member Since: 09/28/04
12 lifetime posts
Ok first I feel dumb LOL. Never accured to me that someone else has done some renovations already. I can just imagine what it would be like if it was still in its original 1900's condition.

Thanks for all your input. I have decided to pass on buying this house. Its good info to have anyhow!

Take off your hat and stay awhile.


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