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REMODELING : Old House Can't Charm Its Way Out of a Renovation

October 29, 1994|From Associated Press

Buying an older home for renovation can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

Aged brass doorknobs, ornately carved banisters, fine wall moldings, natural wood beams and trim are only a few of the features that attract many buyers.

Yet, along with their charm and style, older homes often have serious problems and limitations not apparent to the untrained eye.

For example, new paint could hide persistent flooding. Heavy carpeting may mask a rotting floor, and that attractive wood trim may be home to thousands of wood-eating insects.

Buyers can also feel cheated when they discover that local zoning and building ordinances prohibit the remodeling and improvements planned when the house was bought.

It pays to hire a professional to evaluate a home's structural and mechanical condition, and about how much it will cost to fix it up, before you sign on the dotted line.

The inspection should cover roofing, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundations and basement slabs.

An inspector will determine whether main structural components are sound, free from rot or insect damage and strong enough to support the weight of the house.

The inspector will check out all exposed water and waste pipes, faucets, drainage, water heaters and connections to appliances. He or she will also evaluate the overall condition of the electrical system to see that it's adequate for your current and future needs.

Grounding connections and exposed wiring will be tested for overload protection as well as the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.

A home inspection typically costs one-tenth of 1% of the cost of the house, with a minimum charge of about $150.

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