Home Headaches: Problems to Look Out for in Older Properties

Homes come in all shapes and sizes. Some people love modern homes with acres of glass and steel whereas others much prefer an older property with period features to die for. There is no guarantee that you won’t experience any problems with a new home, but statistically speaking, the older a house is, the more likely it is to have issues.


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As all good Sioux Falls roofing contractors will tell you, roofs are a common issue with older properties, but it isn’t the only one. Termites, damp, rot, and structural problems can all cause major headaches when you own an old house. Many of these problems are expensive to fix, so before you are dragged down into a bottomless money pit, here are the main warning signs to look out for.


Damp is much more common on older homes. The older the property is, the less likely it is to have good drainage. In homes 50 years or older, underfloor and perimeter drainage was wholly insufficient and may even be completely non-existent.

If damp is a problem, you will be able to smell it the moment you walk in. You will probably notice mold and mildew on the walls and soft furnishings, or see water stains.

Pest Infestations

Strange sounds in wall cavities or roof spaces are usually the result of pest infestations. Rodents are a nuisance, as they can chew wiring and cause damage to timber structures, but termites are your worst nightmare. Other insects you won’t want to have as residents include powderpost beetles, spider beetles and deathwatch beetles.

Infestations must be treated by professionals, so if you spot any signs of damage to timber, seek professional advice.


Older homes don’t always have secure foundations by modern standards, so the structural integrity of the property may be compromised as time goes on. Foundations can be underpinned and repaired, but it is usually a costly business.

Warning signs to look out for include sagging windows and misaligned doorways, significant cracks in walls, uneven floors and sagging roofs. Minor issues won’t be too dangerous, but major slumping in various parts of the house is not good and you should definitely hire a structural engineer to take a look.

Roof Issues

Roofs don’t last forever and the older a property is, the more likely you are to have a problem with the roof. A few missing tiles won’t cause too many issues, but gaping holes or a sagging roof is not a good sign. Holes allow water and pests to find a way in and sagging roofs usually indicate problems with the underlying roof structure.

If the problems are serious, it is usually cheaper to replace rather than repair a roof, but remember if the property is a period one, you will need to replace like with like, so it could be a costly exercise.

Be very aware of potential problems when buying an older property. It is better to pay extra for a full structural survey before you sign a contract.

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