The Joys of Renovating an Older Property – Hidden Problems to Watch Out For

Older Property

Older homes have a lot to offer. They are usually more spacious, full of quirky features and character, and built on larger plots. However, whilst there are plenty of advantages to owning a period property, it is essential that you are aware of the potential issues you may face. However, before you start make sure you are prepared, secure your own indoor in case of potential floor damages but also make sure to find the right safety workwear, for you as well as those who are helping you with the renovation.

Any home more than 30 years’ old is statistically more likely to have issues. Over time, problems build up and the fabric of the property begins to wear out. With regular maintenance, homes can be a hundred years old or more and still in onepiece, but the older a property is, the more likely you are to have problems.

Here is a quick guide to the main issues to look out for when renovating an older property.

Older Property

The Roof

The roof protects a property from the weather, so it needs to be in good condition. The smallest leak will cause significant damage over time.

Gaping holes, missing tiles or shingles, and sagging ridge timbers are the most obvious sign you have a problem, but look out for water stains on upper ceilings, water damage in the attic, and damaged flashing around chimneys. Even small fixes can be expensive due to the height of the work area.

Older Property

The Foundations

Modern building techniques have changed and the foundation of an older property may be less secure than that of a modern house. A visual inspection will usually reveal hidden problems.

If the house is listing to one side or windows have dropped out of line, it suggests there is a problem with the property’s foundation. Internal cracks can also be indicative of ground subsidence or foundation problems, particularly if there are deep cracks around windows and doors. Serious problems can be fixed, but ask a structural engineer to assess the damage before you commit to buy. 

Older Property


Damp is a pervasive problem that’s often difficult to fix. Older properties have less effective damp-proof solutions and in years gone by, homeowners often relied on ventilation to keep rooms dry. Today, we much prefer to close windows and shut out drafts, so damp and condensation builds up. If left untreated, damp causes all manner of health problems, including allergies and respiratory issues.

Damp and mold emit an unpleasant mustyodor. Look out for salts coming through walls and sign of wet or dry rot.

Older Property


Infestations may not be obvious, but termites and other pests can do untold damage to the fabric of a home. Most pests lurk out of sight unless there is a major infestation, so you may not be aware there is a problem until it’s too late.

Look in dark recesses for holes in timbers, listen out for strange sounds in the attic, and if you spot droppings, call in a pest control company to carry out a thorough assessment.

Make sure you check out the electrical wiring and plumbing in an older property, as these can be a source of expensive misery.

Images: 19th Century Apartment in Brooklyn Renovated by Louis Mackall || Photos by Michel Arnaud

JIKKA by Issei Suma

Green Elephant by Azovskiy & Pahomova Architects