• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

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Property expert reveals hidden things to spot in older homes

According to research, 3.5 million properties are classed as non-decent and typically these homes are built before 1919.

But as there are currently 15.5 million homeowners and mortgage holders in the UK, distressed elements of a property tend to go unnoticed in the buying process, especially with older builds.

With this in mind, the experts at chartered surveyors Stokemont have revealed the hidden features to look out for when buying an older property.

Bradley Mackenzie, RICS accredited valuer, at chartered surveyors Stokemont has shared his expert insight around things to look out for when considering an older property, and how much it may set you back.

Structural Issues

Usually, as time progresses, nature catches up with homes, even the most sturdy and perfectly built properties. But older homes are more prone to structural issues such as ccracks, moisture damage, dry rot, uneven walls, jammed windows and more. 

It is not cheap to repair structural problems, typically the cost is around £13,500, so although it may seem hard to keep costs down when investing in a property, having two thorough inspections is important to identify any issues as early as possible. Home insurance typically does not cover these types of factors, always remember to consider repair costs in your offer price or ask the seller to address the problems before agreeing to buy.

Secret rodent residents

As you prepare to move into your new home, consider that there may still be residents who don’t plan to move out, except these residents are much smaller, noisier and more harmful than you would think.

Wood destroying insects are one of the worst, as they can compromise the construction of the building but what are other pests to watch out for?

  • Termites, which can damage wood and wood products.
  • Overwintering insects, like cluster flies, boxelder bugs, carpet beetles, stink bugs, and lady beetles that come in to avoid the winter weather. 
  • Carpenter ants that build nests in soft, damp, or dead wood.
  • Vertebrate pests, like rodents, birds, and other urban wildlife. They can damage the structure, chew electrical lines, and introduce other pests, like fleas, ticks, and mites.

Depending on the type of pest, prices can vary. For example, wood-boring insects could cost around £1,000 to treat and repair, whilst rat extermination on average could cost £180.

Risks of roofs

Deteriorating roofs are typically found on older homes, leading to a potential of on-going problems such as infestations, water damage, and ineffective insulation. A compromised roof could start from £100 up to £7,000 to fix, but what are warning signs of issues with your roofing?

Some of the most common indicators are missing or damaged shingles, crumbling roof cement, bowed or sagging gutters, persistent moisture in the attic, evidence of water damage in the upper floors or critters in the attic or upper crawlspaces. Before buying an older home, assess the roof’s age and condition to the best of your ability, or consider hiring a roofing inspector.

Mould and mildew exposure

Properties that are exposed to moisture and damp often develop mould and mildew particularly in bathrooms, but growth can occur anywhere. It is common for older homes due to moisture being able to seep through cracks, leak holes and pipes – however, as it can begin inside the walls, it is more likely that you may walk through a mould-infested older property without realising that the issue exists. 

Uncontrolled growth can heighten allergies and respiratory problems in both children and adults, it is key to have the home treated as soon as possible. Although sometimes it can be a quick, simple fix by keeping the property warm and ventilated, it can also cost as much as nearly £3,000.

Struggles of storage Space

Despite objects becoming smaller, on average each person is spending £12,227 a year suggesting we have more stuff than ever before and an unfortunate element of an older home is the lack of storage. 

The variety of quirky features from sloping floors to patterned ceilings may make it difficult to add storage for our much loved items. Whilst this may not seem like an issue at the start, in the long term you may find it difficult to home certain items.

Bradley Mackenzie, RICS accredited valuer, at chartered surveyors Stokemont commented on older property:

“While many older homes have attractive period-specific elements that are aesthetically pleasing and could add value to the property, others come with a myriad of unwanted setbacks. 

“When contemplating any home built to standard requirements, find out as much as you can about the materials, labour, and construction company’s processes. Even though an older home may be constructed more durably, and host a more appealing architectural style, most homes before 1940 come with damages, furry friends and may lead to a significant loss for your pocket. Conducting thorough inspections before investing is key to preparing your new, vintage home.”


  1. Chartered surveyors Stokemont wanted to reveal the hidden things to look out for when buying an older property.
  2. All data was collected February 2024, and is accurate as of then.

By Meghan