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What to Check for When Buying an Older House in Missouri

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Unquestionably, older homes have more personality, charm, and character than newer constructions. This is only one of the many reasons why many purchasers find it difficult to imagine moving into a new home. Older homes are also often built-in good neighborhoods, for less money than newer high-rises.

For first-time homeowners in particular, buying an older house in Missouri can be a great investment, if you know what to watch out for before signing on the dotted line. Here’s a list of items to look out for and inquire about when looking at an older home in Missouri.

Midwest Weather

The weather in the Midwest can have extreme ups and downs, including in Missouri. Building materials contract and expand because of ice and snow in the winter and heat in the summer. Wood will flex and concrete will crack over time.

Hard spring rains and isolated flooding can cause erosion, mold growth, and leaky basements. Energy loss from old windows and poorly insulated attics can cause heating and cooling costs to go up. Speaking of windows, it will be costly to replace any with uncommon sizes and forms, stained glass, or leaded panes.

Interested purchasers should enquire about utility costs and consider how the house will hold up during seasonal fluctuations. Make sure to include any adjustments for weather-proofing and energy conservation in the budget.

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous elements like asbestos and lead are far more likely to be found in older dwellings. Up until 1978, lead was often used in both interior and exterior paint. Before the mid-1980s, it was also used in plumbing systems.

This lead could get into the environment and the water supply, which would be dangerous to people’s health. Before people learned about the health risks in the 1970s, asbestos was also used in gas fireplaces, roofs, insulation, and wallboard patching materials.

If you are thinking about buying a home built before 1978, you should know that these dangerous elements are likely to be there. You might want to look into lead paint removal prices and the cost of removing popcorn ceilings and other materials that might contain asbestos before making a purchase.

Old Electrical Systems

Knob and Tube (K&T) wiring is an antiquated electrical wiring scheme that may be found in homes constructed in the 1950s or earlier. It makes use of a wire covered in fabric that connects a number of porcelain knobs. A buyer can come across a home that still has it, even though the majority of houses have been upgraded over time.

K&T can present a fire risk. Along with safety concerns, a new owner may have trouble finding an insurance company that will cover the home. Even if K&T has been eliminated, an older home’s electrical infrastructure might not be suitable for the plugged-in lifestyle of today. 

Consider how many more electronics and gadgets we use now than we did just 25 or 30 years ago. To accommodate the power requirements of contemporary appliances, computers, big TVs, and everything a family depends on, new wiring, particularly grounded outlets, may need to be replaced throughout the house.

Malfunctioning Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

In several states, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed on every floor of a home. However, even if a residence has both, they might be out-of-date or malfunctioning. It’s easy to overlook checking for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when buying a house because they typically aren’t given much attention. 

Check all of your home’s alarms and detectors, and consider updating to a more modern model that connects to your phone via an app so you can keep an eye on your home’s security from anywhere. For maximum protection, install smoke alarms in every room and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your house.

Faulty Foundations

Older homes in Missouri, particularly those in the St. Louis region, often have basements. It’s crucial to look for leaks, seepage, and foundation flaws. Due to settling, older homes are going to have fewer problems that are not very critical. However, damaged support footings, significant foundation cracks, and shifting, however, a different matter. The cost of the house will increase significantly if the foundation or sill plate needs to be repaired.

Toxic Gasses

When purchasing older buildings, there are other risks besides building materials to be aware of. Older homes can contain hazardous toxic gasses like carbon monoxide and radon. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can cause anything from fainting to death. Both gasses are tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so a trained inspector is required to detect them.

Outdated Layouts, Fixtures, and Features

It’s important to note that when it comes to older properties, you might need to lower your aesthetic standards. Modern fixtures and open floor plans aren’t common in older homes. Often, the windows, floors, tiles, wallpaper, and other fixtures need to be upgraded. Don’t let this frustrate you; all it takes is a bit of extra ingenuity, money, and hard work to achieve any appearance or aesthetic. When looking for an old house, think about what it could be instead of what it is now, since much of what is there will need to be replaced.

Termites, Tree Issues, and Other Exterior Concerns

An older house can be desirable because of its picturesque tree-lined street. However, objects outside the house, such as trees, can also give you headaches. In the event that they fall during a storm, trees that have become too big can endanger power lines, fences, and eaves. Steps and sidewalks can be damaged by deep roots. They have the ability to destroy the foundation and burst pipelines.

Termites and other insects can breed in wood that has been exposed to years of moisture and water damage. Termites can be found during routine inspections, but they are more likely to cause problems in older homes.

Any property might have roof problems, but older homes are more likely to have materials that add to their distinctive appearance. Slate, terra-cotta clay tiles, wood shingles, or rustic “shakes” may be pricey to replace and difficult to repair.

Brickwork on Missouri houses is another popular feature. Every 10 to 15 years, the bricks between them should be tuckpointed, a process that involves removing the old mortar and replacing it.


A new home is appealing to many people. However, others favor older residences. Old houses sometimes have a charm and character that are uncommon in new construction, as well as sturdy construction and skilled craftsmanship. They are often seen in established communities with larger lots and older trees.

Older homes have many positive qualities, but they can also have a unique set of issues that are not present in newer homes. When searching for older homes in Missouri, it’s important to do thorough inspections and ask the right questions.
At Faithful Home Buyers KC, we buy houses for cash. If you need to sell your old home fast for cash, we can help you get top dollar for it. Give us a call today.

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