The 5 Costliest Repairs to Older Homes-Is it Time to Sell Your House?

     

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In Los Angeles County, there are hundreds of homes that have passed the 100-year old mark.  Of course, with age comes costly home repairs.  Oftentimes, owners of older homes may not be prepared for the different types of damage that happen over time.  

The major areas of expensive repairs are:
  1. foundation
  2. termite
  3. roof
  4. plumbing
  5. electrical

Foundation Damage

Does your floor slope?  Are there cracks in the walls or ceiling?  Those are the biggest hints that you probably have foundation damage.  Foundation repair is very costly and is much more likely to happen in an older home when the standards for the strength of a foundation were less stringent than they are today.  A foundation specialist often repairs a settling foundation, foundation cracks, sagging crawl spaces, concrete leveling and earthquake retrofitting (after all, we do live in California).  The undertaking to do any of these repairs is extensive and therefore bids will likely be in the $5,000 to $20,000 range depending on the extent of the repairs.

Termite Damage

Termites can cause incredibly extensive damage to a home over the years.  These days, homeowners can buy wood that is treated and won't attract termites.  If an older home has not been treated for termites on a regular basis, the termites will eat through any and all wood that they can.  Damage that has continued for a long time can result in a lot of wood replacement, especially in the facia and attic areas of the house.  Whole house fumigation and spot treatment for subterranean termites will also most likely be recommended on an older home.  Wood damage repair and fumigation as described above typically falls in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Roof Replacement

A roof has a life span.  And unless you've replaced your roof in the last 10 years, you most likely need a new roof or roof repairs.  Repairing a roof can be tricky, especially since most roofing contractors won't guarantee their work with repairs.  They will guarantee their work on a new roof, though.  Why?  Because it's hard to install new roofing around old roofing and ensure that there won't be any leaks where there is overlap between old and new shingles.

And roofs can be the biggest deal breaker in the sale of a house.  If an inspector says the roof's lifespan is limited and will most likely need to be replaced within a few years of purchasing a house, most likely, then, a buyer will want credit for a new roof or will decide not to buy the house.

Plumbing Issues

Plumbing issues can be pervasive, from leaks, rusty pipes, blocked sewer lines, to small unapparent leaks that go for years undetected.  Plumbing in older homes also has a lifespan.  The hard part is keeping up with the plumbing and doing the major repipe before an accident, such as a bursting pipe.  The water damage that can occur after a busted pipe can be devastating.  Hopefully, a homeowner who experiences such a trauma has adequate homeowner's insurance to cover such an issue.

Plumbing issues can also deter a potential buyer.  Because, like a roof, if something goes wrong, it tends to be very expensive and has a high risk of leading to even more damage.

Electrical Upgrades

Older homes have outdated electrical.  Plain and simple.  From upgrading the panel, to running new electrical lines to the house, to updating all the old wiring in an older home, this can be a huge expense and is also the most dangerous if not addressed.  I've spent as little as $5,000 updating switchplates and adding some lighting and I've spent $30,000 to completely upgrade an old fuse electrical system.  It was ancient and I was nervous to even flip a switch.

And, with the amount of electrical components that people have in their homes is major: kitchen appliances, TVs, sound systems, washer/dryer, computers, printers, you name it, it's electric.  So even if your electrical panel suffices for now, it may not for the newer generation of owners.

Is it Time to Sell Your House?

Doing repairs is part of owning a home.  Over time, though, for many people, the desire to keep a house in proper repair can disappear.  This is especially true if you are near retirement.  Unfortunately, these problems will still occur and will be costly.  This is nothing new to us, because we buy houses that have become a financial burden.

It's not only the burden that faces the homeowner, but selling a home with extensive repairs can be difficult.  New home buyers are looking for "move-in ready" homes without much work needing to be done.  This generation of home buyers also doesn't have the money to invest in the repairs or upgrades.  Buyers are willing to do some upgrades as time goes by, but not the repairs that are immediately needed or can cause major problems later.

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Jennifer Shenbaum

About The Author

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.