Year the property was built

18 Replies

I’m currently looking at a property in Houston Texas that was built in 1930. It has been renovated by the current owner within the last year. It has a new roof, completely redone interior, and is a duplex. 3 bed 1 bath and a 2 bed 1 bath. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on buying older properties. Is a 1930 build year too much to take on for my first property even though it’s been renovated? If anyone has experience with these older homes in the Houston area any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

If the house is structurally sound, the age shouldn't matter. There's many houses older than that housing their occupants comfortably. Construction techniques differed during that period and most houses of that era had zero insulation but I suspect that's been remedied by now. I'm currently working on a house built in 1900 and it has no insulation anywhere. (yet).

Electrical and plumbing are the two main concerns as if they haven't been upgraded, it's going to need attention.

I've bought a few older properties.  Outside of electrical and plumbing, there are a few other issues that I've come across.  The first is, how old is the boiler?  I had a super old, cast iron boiler in one of my properties that had to be replaced.  The other items to check out are asbestos and lead paint.  Lead paint especially if you are renting to a family.  I found asbestos in the siding of one of my properties.

Asbestos is hit/miss but for sure the property is going to have lead paint because almost all paints up into the 70's used to have lead in them. Usually leaded paints can be painted over and that solves the problem. If you start changing windows or making other penetrations into the old painted areas, that can cause issues that may require remediation.

The boiler won't be an issue based on where you live as I've never seen a hot water heat system in the south. (I'm sure there's some, somewhere, but I've never encountered one)

HVAC systems have a pretty short life so just plan on replacing the heat pump or whatever it has if it's over 15 years old. A lot of houses I see around here in middle Georgia don't even have central heat/air. Wall space heaters and window air conditioners in some of the older houses. 

I rented a unit in a 1930's built house turned duplex in Houston for 15 years. It was brick, pier and beam with lots of character in a great location. Overall the house was built well. Room size is usually smaller for older homes, pending location that could impact rental rate. Don't be surprised if HVAC and hot water heater is located in a closet or pantry as these were would have been added decades after the house was built. If its pier and beam, find out when it was last leveled. May need to have that done. Also,check out the windows if they are originals or updated double pane. Windows are expensive, so if the current ones are trashed, then budgeting for that capital expenditure up front will take the sting out a bit.

@Nicholas Arthur Hogan I would disagree with @John Teachout if you were to discover lead paint and were renting to families. Painting over lead paint DOES NOT solve the issue of lead paint. There are many different remediation techniques, but this is not one of them. This is something you can have inspected during the contingency period to get an idea of remediation. You should also check on your states laws in regards to lead paint.

Originally posted by @Avery Heilbron :

@Nicholas Arthur Hogan I would disagree with @John Teachout if you were to discover lead paint and were renting to families. Painting over lead paint DOES NOT solve the issue of lead paint. There are many different remediation techniques, but this is not one of them. This is something you can have inspected during the contingency period to get an idea of remediation. You should also check on your states laws in regards to lead paint.

 Maybe this isn't considered a solution in Boston, but in most of the country it is and it is a very common remedial action. Google "lead encapsulating paint".

@John Teachout Thanks for the tip about google. Paint encapsulation is one of the techniques that can be used. In MA it is not used very often anymore after a change in regulation (which I believe was actually at the federal level). However, in your original post you said "Usually leaded paints can be painted over and that solves the problem" . Someone who has never dealt with lead paint would assume you mean to paint over lead paint, which is exactly what you said. If you mean encapsulation you can start using that word as to not confuse the BP community. I, however, would not recommend that technique as a blanket statement and this is coming from a certified lead abatement supervisor, myself.

@Nicholas Arthur Hogan

I was renting the old house. The owners did a great job in maintaining the property for over 30 years before they sold it three years ago. I lived there for 15 years, raised a daughter there who went to great schools and the other tenant (in duplex) lived there for over 25 years. The owners are older, when I moved out 7-8 years ago, they realized they didn't want to run the "business" anymore. So they sold it. It was near Univ. of St. Thomas.

@David Barnett Lead paint laws differ by state. MA is strict and is working to get all rentals lead safe, other states have no laws regarding it beyond the Federal EPA requirements. 

@John Teachout Painting over lead paint absolutely does not solve the problem. Ever. Most lead poisoning of children happens from window sashes and doors that rub the frames, creating lead dust. Painting over it doesn't work because if the door is rubbing the jam, the  new paint is just going to rub off in a couple of weeks anyway since you just made the components thicker. In some states there are very strict laws on how to abate lead based paint. In other states, only the EPA laws apply when working with it. Encapsulation can only be done by licensed lead abatement contractors, and only on specific components, like windowsills and baseboards. Anywhere that is a friction surface, like doors and windows, cannot be encapsulated. 

As lead paint laws vary by state, I absolutely cannot stand when someone in one state gives advice about lead paint to someone in another state. What works in TX could get someone fined in the high 6 figures in MA. (Yes, there have actually been fines over a million dollars in MA.) People have been fined close to half a million just for not giving tenants the required notices about lead paint. It's a very serious topic in MA.

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