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Visit the local Historical Society or the local Preservation Association. If that's of no help, hire an ASHI-Approved Home Inspector. For $3-500, that's money well spent. Just be SURE you ask your Inspector what his 'background' is. In addition to his Trade Skills (no former Taxi Drivers, or the like, for your Inspector), find out w/references what homes he's inspected that are of that type, age, and year. (You don't want just ANYONE to do this for you especially when you're paying that kind of $$$.) Visit ASHI for How To Pick A Home Inspector. (It's the best guide I've come across.)
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: Now, you're probably saying to yourself, "Geesh, I don't want to spend $3-500 for advice that will tell me the house isn't any good (so to speak.)" Well, to that I have to say, "If the info you get helps you make an INFORMED decision, then that's $$$ well spent!" That $3-500 is a LOT cheaper to pay now then to have to pay $5-10,000 later on to have all your bathrooms remodeled when you were 'informed' that all was well. In short, pay now or pay later.
No, I really don't have anything else to add. I would just emphasize that you find an ASHI-Approved Home Inspector that's EXPERIENCED w/the age and, preferably, type of home you're viewing. W/the types of concerns you have, that's $$$ well spent.
Contact the Historical Society or local Preservation Society for 'leads' of that type of Inspector. If you like what you CAN see, then I think you're ready for 'the next level', i.e., a Home Inspection to get someone to investigate the things you can't see or identify on your own.
Good luck! And I hope it works out for you.
Jay J -Moderator