You’ve loved everything about your older home – the location, the craftsmanship, and the architectural details reminiscent of an older style. But, it’s finally time for an upgrade, including the best in modern amenities … it’s time to remodel this old house! But think about all of the things that have changed in homes over the years.
Modern appliances are energy efficient and “smart”. A home needs to accommodate more computer and media equipment, both wired and wireless. Over the past decade there has been a trend toward more open areas and functional living space. There are also new ways to construct homes and regulations that restrict the use of certain building materials. Remodeling an older home, poses some unique challenges. You’re bound to encounter conditions and problems that are unique to homes built before 1980. Here are some important items to consider and discuss with your remodeling professional before starting the project.
Homes built before the mid-1960’s commonly used cement and cinder blocks to construct foundations. Cinder is less structurally sound than the cement portion of the foundation, increasing the potential for cracks, and subsequently, for water damage.
Concrete foundations are not immune to cracks either, and are susceptible to breaking into smaller pieces (spalling) as a result of water finding its way into materials such as brick, concrete, or natural stone. When water seeps into these materials, spalling causes the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off.
Other potential foundation issues may include dry rot, moisture damage in above-ground studs, corrosion, or the leaking of radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. It’s also important to keep an eye out for visible wall cracks that grow over time, cracked tile or concrete floors, or visibly uneven floors. All these issues can be stealthy indicators of deeper foundation problems.
Since the foundation is the main support affecting the structural integrity of your entire home, any suspected foundation or structural problem should be addressed by a qualified remodeler before beginning significant remodeling work.
Non-Code Compliant Wiring
Our use of electricity has significantly increased in recent decades with the proliferation of computers, mobile devices, dishwashers, hair dryers, garbage disposals, and air conditioners. Many older homes are not equipped to handle the amount of electricity needed to power all of these modern amenities at once. And old or insufficient electrical wiring poses a significant safety hazard. To bring your older home’s electrical wiring up to code, it may be necessary to install ground-fault-interrupter (GFI) outlets in your kitchen and bathroom. If an appliance encounters water, the GFI will cut off power immediately. You may also need to upgrade your electrical box to the standard 200-amp capacity to allow for simultaneous use of your household appliances.
Damaged or Rusted Water Pipes
The lifespan of most pipes is dependent on what type they are. To determine what pipes you have, you should either look over your home inspection report that you received when you bought the home or have your plumbing system inspected by a plumber. Here are some estimations and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Residential Rehabilitation Inspection Guide.
There are 3 common materials used to make supply pipes, which are under constant pressure of running water:
- Brass, with an average lifespan of 40-70+ years.
- Copper, with an average lifespan of 50+ years
- Galvanized steel, with an average lifespan of 20-50 years.
Drain lines are commonly made up of 2 materials:
- Cast iron, which can last from 75-100 years
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can last from 25-40 years.
Even if your pipes are older than the values in the guideline, you do not have to replace them. Poorly maintained pipes or those that contain hard water may not last as long as expected, and ones that are well managed can last longer.
Remove Lead and Polybutylene – If your home was built in the early 1900s, take this opportunity to check to see if your home has lead pipes. According to the EPA, levels of lead measuring greater than 15ppb (parts per billion) are grounds for taking action. However, most scientists agree that the ingestion of lead – at any level – is dangerous to your health and should be avoided at all costs.
If your home was built between the 1970s and 1990s, your home’s plumbing system may use polybutylene pipes. Over time, chlorine in the water supply can degrade polybutylene pipes from the inside out. This slow erosion of polybutylene pipes over time can cause system-wide failure.
Paint containing lead was once used on surfaces throughout homes for decades: walls, ceilings, radiators, doors, window frames and sills, and just about anything that could be painted. Homes built before 1978 are required to be checked for lead paint before any renovation or remodeling can begin. If left undisturbed, lead paint isn’t hazardous, but when you start remodeling, the dust created by it can be. Old lead paint can chip, peel, and be extremely dangerous to young children.
In homes built prior to 1980, going back as far as the 1940’s, asbestos was used widely as an insulator and fire retardant in roofing, flooring HVAC insulation, some types of paint, and adhesives. The biggest problems come about when asbestos is disturbed for removal by sawing, sanding, scraping, or other means that can lead to it giving off powdery residue. Once that asbestos powder becomes airborne, it can easily be inhaled, which could lead to lung damage or poisoning.
Mold likes to grow in moist locations where organic material is present. When leaks go unnoticed as described above, the conditions become perfect for mold. Mold can feed on the wood and walls of the home. When this happens, remediation is necessary and often some damaged parts of the home may need to be replaced.
To ensure your home’s remodel is properly handled, contact Xtreme Home Improvement. You can rely on our extensive expertise to deal with all the problems that come with these type of projects. We take pride in infusing new life into older homes while maintaining both its integrity and original beauty.