Buying a home is one of the most important decisions a person can make in their life. For this reason the final decision should not be made with impulsiveness but with prudence. However, home research is a complex process that requires time and thought, as there are several things to consider before taking the final step, especially when it comes to buying an old home where things get even more complicated. So we have gathered 10 tips for buying an old house, which hopefully will help you in order to easily reach the ideal home for you!
1. House condition
If you want to buy an old house, you should check its condition from the beginning. We would advise you to focus on the frames, the bathroom and the kitchen, as for a house to be considered immediately habitable, these three must be in a functional condition. More specifically, check the frames and see if they are wooden, aluminum with single glazing, or a new type of aluminum with double glazing. If they are made of wood or aluminum with single glazing, they are most likely not to seal and to let the air pass through leading to heat loss. In contrast, aluminum frames with double glazing have better insulation and seal, thus protecting the house’s interior from the outside temperature. In the bathroom, pay attention mainly to obvious water leaks or moisture in the tiles, which show a necessary change of the hydraulic system. Finally in the kitchen look for surface damage, such as damaged cabinets, worn countertops, rotten interiors of cabinets and drawers, etc.
If someone observes and compares an old house with a new one, they will realize that their main difference is the layout. Usually in the old houses, the kitchen area is a separate room from the living room, while in the new houses the kitchen and the living room is an open plan area. The layout that now prevails in the new apartments, has greater benefits than the one that existed before since every free space is utilized and so the house looks bigger and is more functional. Of course, there are people who prefer the kitchen to be separated from the living room, because it has other advantages such as that the smells from cooking do not reach the living room. Moreover, given the fact that the kitchen is an enclosed space, they do not have to be always tidy. However, if you decide to change the layout of your future home and follow the model of an open plan kitchen, then we would advise you to turn the old kitchen into a new bedroom or even a storage room if there isn’t already one in the house. With this change, you will be able to highlight the space by gaining one more room.
3. Find a construction company before making a purchase
If the house is in poor condition then it would be better to look for a construction company to undertake the renovation. It is important to take this step before completing the purchase, so that you know beforehand how much it will cost to renovate this home and thus judge if it is worth buying it.
4. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a document that, based on a study, determines how much energy is consumed in an apartment within a period of one year. More specifically, by energy consumption we mean any form of energy (electricity, oil, etc.) used by heating and cooling systems to maintain the temperature in the house but also for other uses. In order to better understand how much energy a house consumes, there is a scale of energy consumption, in which each building is classified, from A + which means that it is extremely energy efficient to H which means the exact opposite, i.e. that its energy consumption is very high. If the energy level to which the house belongs is below D then it is very likely that some interventions will need to be made. The specific certificate is mandatory in cases of purchase-sale of a house, in order to sign the final contracts. Therefore if you want the house you will buy to be energy upgraded, check the EPC from the beginning to know before acquiring the house to which energy consumption scale it belongs and thus calculate if extra work will be needed to change it.
5. Examine whether it has autonomous or shared heating
One thing that many may not think about is whether the apartment has autonomous or central heating. The truth is that if you choose autonomous heating you will have significant advantages, since a new heating network is created only for your home, which you turn on any hours and days you want and you can even adjust the temperature to your own needs. You understand that these are great benefits that everyone would like to enjoy in their space. To have these benefits you do not need to look only for houses that already have autonomous heating (anyway it is rare to find an old house that has autonomous heating), as you can simply separate your apartment from the shared system of the building . Autonomous heating is now a simple and easy process, since you do not need the other tenant’s approval, as used to be the case.
6. Common areas
When it comes to your future home everything counts, even the common areas! Imagine entering an apartment building and facing a neat clean space, with freshly painted walls and an elevator in good condition and now imagine an apartment building with mold and damp problems on the walls, where the common areas are not clean and are generally neglected. I suppose that everyone would choose the first apartment building over the second and the reasons are obvious. Initially, the first image that you will activate before entering your house and the last before leaving the apartment building will be the common areas and the better and more careful their condition is, the more positively it will affect your psychology. Also the fact that the common areas of an apartment building are in good condition, shows that there is probably a climate of good communication between the tenants and this is something that should not go unnoticed since these are the people who are a door away from you and the daily intercourse with them is inevitable.
The choice of floor is definitely a subjective matter, as each floor has its advantages and disadvantages and it is the needs and preferences of each person that make a floor ideal for him. Living on a high floor is undoubtedly quite positive, such as greater security, more light, better views, etc., however when it comes to penthouses you need to pay attention to some things. The common problems you may encounter are with insulation, which in older homes is usually inadequate. Such problems can lead to high humidity, but also to heat loss which in turn leads to extra costs. Also consider that because the penthouses are exposed from many sides, in winter you will have intense cold and in summer you will be too hot and thus you will have higher costs for heating-cooling. On the other hand, living on low floors is more economical as heating-cooling costs are reduced and utilities are lower. Definitely the apartments on low floors, especially on the ground floor, have several disadvantages such as less natural light, more noise and most importantly less security. However, the ground floor can have the advantage of an outdoor space, which in case you have children or pets will certainly not be left unexploited.
While the issue of parking in newly built apartment buildings has been resolved, as they all have parking on the flat, in the old ones it is still a problem and since you are interested in buying an old house this issue should concern you. Certainly the factors on which the ease of finding parking depends are various, such as exactly where the area is (the more central the more difficult), how many people live nearby and clearly the time and day. One tip we can give you is that if the area consists of many houses, it is possible that in the morning there will be enough parking spaces because most of the locals will be at work. If on the other hand there are several companies around the area, maybe it is the other way around, i.e. it will be easier to find a parking space in the afternoon/evening. So our advice is to visit the area at different times of the day, to make sure if finding parking there is ultimately easy or difficult. One last thing you should look at is if the pop-up takes place near your prospective neighborhood, so you know which roads will be closed and which days and whether this will affect not only the parking spaces but also your schedule.
9. Outdoor spaces
The exteriors of a house in many cases can be just as important as the interiors. A large balcony for example can be useful if you do not have enough space in the house to store things. So you could have on the balcony a closet that will store everything that does not fit in the house from shoes and cleaning supplies to food. Also, due to the climate that prevails in our country, there are many who prefer to spend enough time on the balconies of their homes. If you are one of them, then a comfort that a spacious balcony can offer you would be to have a living room with a table where you could spend your hours happily.
The last tip, which is related to the orientation of the house, concerns all the houses and not only the old ones, but we consider it quite important to refer to it as an “extra tip”.
Most people who are looking to buy a home may not even think about the orientation factor, but it is one of the most important criteria to consider. Some basic information that you will find useful about the orientation of a house are:
- The best orientation, especially for the geographical location of our country, is the south. It is suitable for places where you spend most of your day such as the living room. South-facing rooms are considered ideal because they have natural light most hours of the day and are kept warm during the winter. Even in summer the high temperature can be avoided with a shade.
- The east orientation is ideal for rooms that need morning lighting, such as bedrooms and kitchen. The positive thing about the east orientation is that the sun does not last long, so the rooms do not overheat. Another advantage offered by the eastern orientation, is that during the noon and afternoon hours of summer it does not limit the coolness in a place.
- West-facing rooms are the hottest, especially in the summer months and during the afternoon. For this reason it would be better in these places, in order to avoid the sun, to have some use of shading such as an awning or curtain.
- The areas facing north are characterized by intense cold especially in winter, so thermal insulation is considered necessary in these areas. Ideally, north-facing rooms should be places where you do not have to spend much time in, such as bathrooms or storage rooms. The positive, however, of the northern rooms is that in summer they remain cool.
So as you understand, each orientation has its pros and cons, therefore you need to find out what your preferences are in order to conclude what works best for you.