Buying a House 25 Years or Older

buying a house 25 years or older

Homes tend to fall into predictable patterns based on age.  One of the most important considerations to look for in homes 25 years or older is the age of its components and where the components are in their life expectancy- this is especially true of expensive categories like roofs, heating/cooling equipment, and windows.  In homes older than 25 years it is common to see a mix of materials, repairs, and different ages of components– the buyer should review the Residential Property Disclosure and otherwise ask the seller for more information to try to determine age/repair/replacement/service history information- a good home inspector will help to identify the ages of the most expensive appliances.

After 25 years, it is also common for repairs, additions, and renovations in older homes to be performed to varying degrees of quality and some of this work may be sub-standard.  Most basements and crawl space environments in our area after 25 years were upgraded or will need upgrading and many items throughout the house will no longer be up to code.

The information below is intended to help homebuyers by providing a reference for the condition of a typical 25-year or older house.

Other relevant articles: Buying a Neglected Home.   Buying a House Between 15-25 Years Old.  Buying a Pre-1960 House

Aging Components

All the components in a home have a life expectancy and are prone to deterioration.  Occasionally a component or appliance will far outlast its life expectancy (I have some kitchen appliances from the late 80s that I am quite proud of) but as a general rule, the life expectancy of components will fall into a predictable bell curve.   As with anything regular maintenance, gentle use, and select repairs can prolong life expectancy but with neglect (or bad luck) the life expectancy will be shortened.  When a house is 25 years or older many components of the home are beyond their life expectancy and should have been replaced.  In some cases, components have been replaced multiple times already.  In other cases, components are wearing and need selective repairs and upgrades. 

What should have been replaced after 25 years?

As a general rule, the components below should have been replaced after 25 years, in some cases, they have been replaced multiple times, or maybe at or beyond their expected service life again.

  • Toilet Flush Assembly and Flange:  7-15 years

  • Bathroom/Range Exhaust fans:  8-15 years

  • Expansion tank/PRV: 8-12 years

  • GFCI outlets:  10 years

  • Smoke/CO detectors:  10 years

  • Asphalt hard surfaces:  8-12 years

  • Well Pressure system equipment: 8-12 years

  • Kitchen/Laundry Appliances:  10-16 years

  • Concrete/patio surfaces:  10-25 years

  • Water Heater:  15-20 years

  • Fireplaces and flues:  15-25 years

  • Well pump: 20 years

  • Heating and Cooling Equipment:  15-25 years

  • Kitchen/bathroom faucets:  15-20 years

  • Gutter system:  20-25 years

What will need some repairs/replacement after 25 years?

Unless a full renovation has taken place, typically some repairs  or pending replacement will be needed in the following categories:

  • Windows/Doors:  15-35 years

  • Decks: 15-30 years depending on materials and maintenance

  • Electrical switches and outlets:  20-35 years

  • Tub/Shower surrounds: 20-35 years

  • Siding/trim:  20-60 years depending on material and installation.

  • Plumbing:  40-80 years

  • Septic System: 25-45 years

  • See Attic/Basement/Crawl Space Environments

Other Considerations

Crawlspace/Basement Environment

Unless a crawl space or basement has been fully renovated, a buyer of an older home should budget for potentially expensive repairs/renovations- more on foundation areas here.  These are typical observations in an older basement or crawl space:

  • History of water penetration from outside (grading/drainage repairs needed)
  • History of foundation cracks and settling (grading/drainage repairs needed)
  • Evidence of water penetration at the finished basement (grading/drainage repairs needed)
  • Potential air quality issues at the finished basement (grading/drainage repairs needed)
  • History of structural damages and repairs (select framing repairs needed)
  • Missing or moisture-damaged insulation in the crawl space (ventilation upgrades needed)
  • Missing/damaged ground vapor retarder in crawl space
  • History of leaks and wood-destroying insects

Attic Environment

Some typical observations in an older attic:

  • Missing or inadequate insulation in areas
  • Sagging framing at areas (select framing repairs needed)
  • History of leaks and repairs in areas
  • Water damage to framing around the chimney
  • Disconnected ductwork or exhaust fans

Additions, Repairs, and Renovations

Unpermitted owner-built additions are very common in our area.– many homeowners convert their porches or patios into additions – these are less than ideal because porches and patios rarely have a permanent foundation system designed for finished and heated areas.  Water damage from plumbing leaks and roof leaks (tree/wind damage) is common in homes after 25 years.  Repairs, additions, and renovations in older homes are often built to varying degrees of quality and some of this work may be sub-standard.  Buyers should contact the county/city for permit information and ask the seller for information regarding work warranties, permits, plans, receipts, and other documentation.  It is common for homes to be built to a higher level of quality than later additions/renovations because the original home was permitted and built by a general contractor and later additions/renovations were not.  Owner work is almost always sub-standard compared with licensed contractors, in other cases unqualified labor was hired for work that should only be performed by licensed professionals such as structural repairs, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC repairs.   Buyers should not be expected to pay full retail for unpermitted additions and renovations built to a lesser quality that may have hidden or latent issues.

History of Water or Wood-Destroying Insect Damage

After 25 years it is common for homes to have experienced damage from leaks, flood events, or wood-destroying insects.  Water/insect damage could indicate a problem that was resolved years ago, or an active problem that needs further attention and repair– making this determination with older homes can be difficult even for licensed professionals.  Some areas may need to be monitored and re-evaluated over time to prevent further issues.  The seller should always be asked for information about repair/treatment history and whether the home is still under pest service/warranty.

Code Compliance

For older homes, areas that no longer comply with the current code are common.  Homeowners are not obligated to maintain their homes to current code standards, only to the standards that were in place the year the home was built.  Later repairs, renovations, and additions ideally should have complied with the code standards that were in place the year they were performed however it can be difficult or impossible for the home inspector to determine this information.  Although the Home Inspector is informed by the code and will point out safety concerns, among other things, verifying code compliance is beyond the scope of a home inspection.  The buyer should review the Residential Property Disclosure and ask the seller for more information to determine the age/repair/replacement/service history information.

Asheville Older Home Inspectors

Builder Buddy is your resource for Older Home Inspections in the Asheville area.  We also provide Historic Home Inspections, Vintage Home Inspections, Old Home Inspections, Radon testing, Mold testing, Water testing, Well Inspections, and Septic Inspections.  Schedule online or call with questions.

For information about Buying Homes 15 Years or Newer
For Information about Buying a Home 15-25 Years Old
For Information about Buying Homes Pre-1960
This article is intended to help home buyers looking at Homes 25 Years and Older
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