Multifamily deal has 60's and 80's builds. Inspection tips?

4 Replies

I am looking at a deal that was built in phases. Some of the buildings were in 1960's and the others were in 1983 and 1985. What tips do you have that I can make sure everything is in working order? Here are some I am thinking about, but would like more detail.

  • Plumbing
  • Piping
  • Wood quality
  • Roofs - When they were built?

@Chris F. I am very used to buildings built in the 50's and 60's as I own a lot of that vintage here locally in Berwyn and Cicero, IL. The 60's was a good era in a lot of ways, but you will have galvanized plumbing throughout unless you are lucky. The big thing with galvanized is to make sure your potable water has enough pressure to be adequate in the eyes of a tenant. If your pressure is still good, you can ride it out for a long time. You also will run into a lot of situations where you have to cut pipes out under the sinks as the galvanized rots out at the threads where your P trap connects into the wall. 

You also will want to check the hvac system thoroughly. If this is a boiler building, make sure you have a boiler person take a peek at it. I have a fantastic boiler guy who I trust thoroughly. I now have him look at every building with a boiler before I buy it so I know what I am getting into. Boilers last much, much longer than furnaces, which is good and bad. Most of these 60's buildings still have original boilers, or at minimum original parts of the original boiler system in place. 

The electrical is something you will want to know a lot about as well. The 1960's had much less electrical demand than modern living, so electrical systems need to be updated a lot of times. In my area, the towns force you to do this anyways! I am in the middle of a $26,000 upgrade on a six unit I just purchased in Cicero. 

The 80's should be easier in some ways. They were switching over to copper for your potable water. Your drains could be copper, pvc, galvanized or a mixture. Electric is also less of an issue by the 80's, although sometimes the panels are push style which need to be changed out. 

Roofs are more obvious in my opinion. If you have a flat roof, just see how many layers there are. If you have a shingle roof, your inspector should be able to give you a good idea of the condition. 

Originally posted by @John Warren :

@Chris Fi I am very used to buildings built in the 50's and 60's as I own a lot of that vintage here locally in Berwyn and Cicero, IL. The 60's was a good era in a lot of ways, but you will have galvanized plumbing throughout unless you are lucky. The big thing with galvanized is to make sure your potable water has enough pressure to be adequate in the eyes of a tenant. If your pressure is still good, you can ride it out for a long time. You also will run into a lot of situations where you have to cut pipes out under the sinks as the galvanized rots out at the threads where your P trap connects into the wall. 

You also will want to check the hvac system thoroughly. If this is a boiler building, make sure you have a boiler person take a peek at it. I have a fantastic boiler guy who I trust thoroughly. I now have him look at every building with a boiler before I buy it so I know what I am getting into. Boilers last much, much longer than furnaces, which is good and bad. Most of these 60's buildings still have original boilers, or at minimum original parts of the original boiler system in place. 

The electrical is something you will want to know a lot about as well. The 1960's had much less electrical demand than modern living, so electrical systems need to be updated a lot of times. In my area, the towns force you to do this anyways! I am in the middle of a $26,000 upgrade on a six unit I just purchased in Cicero. 

The 80's should be easier in some ways. They were switching over to copper for your potable water. Your drains could be copper, pvc, galvanized or a mixture. Electric is also less of an issue by the 80's, although sometimes the panels are push style which need to be changed out. 

Roofs are more obvious in my opinion. If you have a flat roof, just see how many layers there are. If you have a shingle roof, your inspector should be able to give you a good idea of the condition. 

 you are the man! Thank you so much :)

@Chris F. to add to what John said in terms of the electrical while your getting an idea of the panel age and amps check for aluminum branch circuit wiring. The 60s/70s aluminum conductors were utilized to avoid high copper prices, some areas it was fairly common. But could be of some concern for you if you do find it, for a few reasons.