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Buying an Old Home: 5 Renovations to Leave to the Pros

By Lizzie Weakley | October 26, 2018

An older home can come with a lot of charm, but those walls may be hiding some major issues. Not all of these projects are necessarily safe for you to tackle without the proper equipment and training. Here are some of the renovation projects that you might want to leave to the professionals.

Hazardous Materials Abatement
Lead and asbestos are some of the more common hazardous materials that can often be found in older homes. Taking the proper precautions for removal often means having to be fully garbed in protective gear and disposing of it at a special landfill. Some areas legally require an asbestos removal to be done by a licensed professional, and well so, because even slight exposure can open you up to a host of incurable repercussions. Asbestos in particular can only be detected by taking a sample to a specialized lab and definitely requires a professional to collect it safely. Even with other materials like lead, unless you know exactly what you're doing and looking for, this is one renovation project that a professional should definitely handle.

HVAC System Replacement
It can seem so easy to get your old house upgraded to a modern HVAC system. When you stop to consider having to rerun the duct work and then properly attaching it to the system, this can be time consuming and costly. If you live in a warmer climate, your air conditioner needs to function efficiently in order to keep your home cool, and failure to install it properly on your own could damage the unit and components. Professional air conditioning installation is generally recommended, especially when dealing with more advanced, modern units with more complex systems. If you’re set on keeping the old ductwork but still want a newer and more efficient unit, talk to the air conditioning installer about getting a cleaning and inspection service attached to the installation to ensure that your old ducts work like new.

Structural Changes
In some instances, you may be able to tackle the removal of certain walls, and it can even be fun to knock things down with a hammer. However, you should still employ the services of a professional to help you make this determination, such as a wall removal team, structural engineer or even an architect, to avoid damaging any load-bearing walls or essential wiring or piping beneath. Their services can prove to be invaluable so that you don't cause damage to your home, and if you ask, they still will likely let you take a swing at it with a hammer. The dark basement could be turned in a beautiful space for your kids, family and friends with these Basement Developments.

Foundation Issues
There are a variety of foundation problems that can occur in an older home. You may need to replace the entire foundation or just segments of it, but only a professional can properly determine which. Using a professional will also ensure that the proper grade of concrete and appropriate reinforcements are utilized so that your home can be safe. They will take on your foundation with full knowledge of local codes and regulations, earthquake-safety tactics, and how to avoid causing unnecessary collateral damage. Even if you’ve used concrete or participated in assembling a structure before, the foundation of your home should be left to the hands of a certified professional.

Major Utility Problems
One of the more common issues in older homes is the need to replace plumbing and electrical systems. Older metal piping can rust or leak, and old electrical wiring may not be compatible with newer, more efficient and powerful systems, leading to system failure if not replaced or altered. A professional can help to make sure that the removal and replacement are done right. While minor plumbing fixes and unclogging drains can be done on your own in most cases, a whole system replacement needs to be done according to code and with proper knowledge of modern plumbing systems, and electrical wiring is always dangerous when dealt with by a non-professional.

At the very least, ask a professional for their advice before you decide to take on a large project, particularly one that you’ve never done before. Your home is your investment and you want it to be treated that way. A hands-on approach to solving problems in an independent manner is an admiral quality, but even more so is knowing when to seek professional help.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer and Realty Biz News contributor.
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