Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy a historic house! As with all home sales, once your offer has been accepted, you should plan on getting a home inspection.
Finding a Historic Home Inspector
Historic homes have different issues than newer homes, so you’re going to want an inspector who knows what to look for in an old house. So, how to find an expert in historic houses?
Your first resource should be your real estate agent. Agents often have a wide network of specialists working in their area, including inspectors.
If your agent isn’t able to recommend a good historic home inspector, try one of these professional organizations:
- The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Experienced and certified home inspectors. Go to their website at and search for an inspector whose specialty is historic homes.
- Historic Building Inspectors Association (HBIA): Inspectors who have experience and certification in inspecting historic homes, and are dedicated to the preservation of historic properties. inspecthistoric.org.
Working with your Historic Home Inspector
Some things to talk about with your inspector about:
- Does the house have good bones? You’ll hear this a lot with historic homes, and it means is the house structurally sound, both its original construction, and how it has aged. This is especially important if you’re planning on changing the floor plan.
- What about the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical? Have they been updated? Do they need updating? If you are changing the floor plan, will you need to move existing lines or run new systems?
- Later additions, like swimming pools, septic tanks, burglar alarms, and specialty constructions like chimneys, might not be covered by the general inspection, so consider getting separate inspections for these.
Normal wear and tear is to be expected. Some older or original fittings might not be as efficient as newer versions, but that’s part of the charm of owning a historic house. Some things will require major repairs – like a rotted floor or infestation. Talk to your agent and inspector, and get estimates from contractors qualified in historic home repairs and restoration before you close on the sale.