When moving into an older home or business premises, there are countless fine details worth considering and looking out for. The fact of the matter is, whilst period period properties are undoubtedly charming, they also come with a risk of long-standing problems that will require a significant investment to fix

The key to addressing these potential problems is noticing them early because the longer they stay untouched, the worse they get. With this in mind, it makes sense to look into some of the biggest threats that older properties can face. When exploring your new acquisition, or preferably before you finalise the purchase, look out for these key property health indicators.

Electrical Wiring 

The modern age has brought us many things and electricity has been a key part of that innovation. However, whilst electricity is a more recent discovery in the greater scheme of things, there are still plenty of buildings which have had the same electrical wiring installed for over 50 years. This can become an expensive risk if undealt with.

From a safety perspective, many older wiring systems were installed with significantly fewer safety regulations in place. The greatest threat with faulty wiring is fire and sparking risks which, particularly in period properties with flammable materials, can become a threat at any moment.

Alternatively, from a functionality perspective, the simple age of these wiring systems can make them prone to failure. There’s nothing worse than having a blackout at the worst possible moment and in the end, it will just leave you needing to rewire the property later anyway.

If you know your home is old, consider getting it surveyed by a qualified electrician and budget the potential need of a rewiring (and replastering depending on how the electrics were initially installed).

Damp and Mould Growth

Damp is one of the most common threats that both modern and older properties can face. Saying this, there’s no doubt that period properties are often at greater risk due to the natural depreciation of materials over time.

If you begin to notice repeating damp patches on walls, in corners or on ceilings, then the first step is to try and begin diagnosing your damp problems. The key to managing damp is to find the cause quickly and then address it as soon as possible. Damp can be caused by broken guttering, leaking pipes, condensation, groundwater and more; it all depends on the nature of the damp your property is experiencing.

If left unchecked, black mould can quickly begin to take root and grow on damp patches or, if your period property has lots of timber surfaces, wet and dry rot can both begin to spread. Acting quickly and having your issues surveyed is key as these symptoms can result in structural instability and even asthma. 

Bowing Walls

Bowing walls is a slightly less common property risk but remains a major threat for older buildings. Leaning and bowing walls are usually immediately noticeable from the outside of the property though they can be difficult to address.

Usually, bowing walls is an indication of a deep rooted structural instability that has developed over time. These flaws can develop over time to through continued vibrations, over-loaded floors or even inappropriate design during the building’s initial construction. 

Whatever the cause, it’s best to get an expert eye to take a look the moment that you notice a bowing or leaning wall. Particularly as the fix is a complex job that requires specialist knowledge.

Whilst these aren’t the only threats that older properties face, they are some of the most important safety concerns that you might come across. When dealing with larger projects, remember to always consult an expert and take all safety measures possible. Larger structural changes should almost never be a DIY job.  



Published by Derek Lotts