Homes have changed over the years along with the standard in which the homes are built. Some conditions change over the years because the level of knowledge has increases over the years as building science is studied. Some conditions are the result of past or current home owners that alter the condition or add items to the home. Here are some important areas to inspect or have inspected if you are buying an older home.
Attic and the roof system is an important system to inspect. The attic space and the roofing effect each other and if correct they will help extend the life of each other. Older homes may have less insulation than is recommended by modern standards. Having the proper amount will help the home owner reduce heating and cooling bills.
The amount of ventilation in the attic space is also important, too little ventilation can result in high attic temperatures which will age the shingles more rapidly. A lack of ventilation can also create a condition where moisture is trapped and condensation is formed. High moisture levels can aid in the growth of mold, reduce the effectiveness of insulation and create a conducive condition for wood destroying insects. Home owners will also improperly vent shower vents in to the attic space exaggerating the moisture issues.
Electrical systems should also be inspected. Older homes especially those built before the 1960's have a chance of having two prong outlets instead of the modern three prong outlets. The size of the service can also be an issue. Amperage for older homes may not be enough when additions are added onto the home and electrical appliances are added to the home.
Energy efficiency has made great improvement over the years. Old gravity furnaces made still be operating (yes I have come across them) however, the gravity furnace is not an energy efficient appliance. The cost of replacing such a furnace will be well worth the expense as the energy savings will be more than enough to recoup the cost. Energy efficiency has also improved for other appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. Although determining the efficiency of appliances is not in the scope of a normal home inspection you can be fairly certain that any appliance over 15 years old is not the tops when it comes to being energy efficient.
Other areas that will be looked at that are done during all home inspections include the grading and the gutters and downspouts. These areas can effect the foundations and moisture issues. These should be inspected during all home inspections , however with increased age they are more likely to be in need of repair or improvements.