Insuring an older home — By Sandi Stone

WHAT? YOU WANT TO PURCHASE AN OLD HOUSE! By Sandi Stone

Old homes have character. That is undeniable. They were built long before the age of cookie cutter suburbia, where you house looks just like you neighbors and your neighbors looks just like his neighbors. The many years of life this house has seen creates an undeniable personality that is not seen in today’s homes. On the wall in the utility room is a family’s growth chart to mark each passing year. The varnish on the stair bannister is worn to the bare wood by the many hands of the families climbing those stairs at the end of their day. The many years of laughter and joy and life that happened within those walls cannot be bought. But beware of what else lurks within those walls.

IS THAT OLD HOUSE INSURABLE?

This is after all a blog written by an insurance agent so let’s talk a bit about those things you need to know and what to ask your real estate agent. So grab your tool belt and buckle in, remember throughout the ride to keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle, this may get a bit bumpy.

HOW ABOUT THAT ROOF?

That gorgeous outside is one of the first aspects of the house that was calling your name. The roof is not only on top of the house but is on top of the list of things you should be asking about. It is one of the top things the Insurance Company asks about. Most carriers will only insure the roof for full replacement value if it is less than 15 years old. Each carrier will have a specific age of roof they will accept and insure for replacement value. Other carriers will not even consider insuring it or will only offer ACV or actual cash value in the event of a loss. Know what the age is, your insurance agent will love you. We can eliminate or include carriers based on this information.

HAVE THE HEATING, PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS SEEN BETTER DAYS?

WHAT you don’t know!!!! Ask your real estate agent, more importantly hire a licensed home inspector. It will be virtually impossible to get insurance coverage on your dream house if it has the original wiring (based on the age of the home you fell in love with). In North American residential construction, aluminum wire was used for wiring entire houses for a short time from the 1960s to the mid-1970s during a period of high copper prices. Existing homes with this older aluminum wiring presents a potential fire hazard. Okay, now is when you turn and run…..FAST in the other direction. This is a costly renovation.

HOW ARE YOUR PIPES????

Not your vocals, I am talking about the pipes in your dream house. Have they been replace? Complete replacement or partial? It was very common in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s for builders to use galvanized piping. These can and do erode over time if the plumbing has not been upgraded to one of the many modern alternatives such as PVC, Plex or copper, it’s a virtual guarantee that you will experience leaks over time. Many carriers limit the amount of coverage they offer for sudden and accidental water loss in older homes. Don’t forget to check with your insurance agent about slow leaks. A sometimes over looked coverage.

Old galvanized piping.

How old is the heating system? Is it central heating? Gas or Electric? Get rid of those wood burning stoves, I know they are cozy and charming, but also a huge fire hazard and the insurance carriers don’t like them much.

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