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How to Predict Problems Based on a Home’s Age

How to Predict Problems Based on a Home’s Age

Classic older homes have lots of charm. But not everything gets better with age. More mature homes can have problems such as plaster walls in need of repair or outdated systems that are hazardous. We have a list of home ages and potential problems to help you treat that older home with TLC.

The following lists a timeframe for when a home was built and the likely problems it could have. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should help get you started.

If your home was built:  

Before the 1950s—Asbestos insulation was used extensively between the 1930s and 1950s, although asbestos sometimes is found in houses that date back to the late 1800s. 

Before the 1960s—Galvanized plumbing pipe may have been used. Zinc slowly corrodes these pipes, which can cause lead to build up over time. 

Before 1977—Asbestos wasn’t banned in paint and patching compounds until 1977. Asbestos fibers are a danger only if disturbed, so be sure to hire a professional before starting any renovations. 

Before 1978—Lead-based paint may be on the walls, trim or exterior. The substance was slowly phased out over decades, so a house built in the early ‘70s isn’t necessarily full of lead. However, you should still double-check. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average lead paint removal project costs $10,000. 

After 1978—Polybutylene piping might be present. These pipes deteriorate from the inside, making it almost impossible to judge their condition until they suddenly fail. 

Before 1986—Lead pipes, fixtures and solder may have been used in the plumbing systems. These fixtures can leach significant amounts of lead into the water. 


If you’re looking at a historical home or any older structure, two inspectors are better than one. Even the best inspectors can make mistakes, and paying for two inspections could save money in the long run by catching more issues now. You’ll have a fuller picture of just what the house needs and what repairs you’ll face in the future.