Insulation code requirements in 1912 built home?

17 Replies

Does a home built in 1912 need to be brought up to code with regard to insulation?  I am thinking about buying a triplex built in 1912.  

Not sure if this will impact your decision, but keep in mind anything that old may have asbestos in it.  From what I've read, remediation can add up. 

Asbestos doesn't have to be removed, I don't think?

Not unless you are doing a major renovation. Then any areas you are working will need to meet the current code.

I'd be more concerned with the elec wiring. Some insurance companies don't cover you if you have old knob & tube wires.

@Account Closed  's statement by saying 95% of insurance carriers out there will not write a policy for a building that has knob & tube or aluminum wiring.  You may find a company, but be ready to pay 2-3 times the premium.

[email protected] | 414‑270‑6834

Depends on where the asbestos is.  I have a 1925 home (upgraded wiring) that has asbestos shingle siding.  We just encased it in Hardie siding.  If it is furnace wrap or flooring those are other issues to consider. Your inspection will reveal those issues. A lot of homes that old have been remodeled along the way and some of these issues may already have been cared for.

Curtis Bidwell MBA, Philia Holding Co LLC | http://www.PhiliaHC.com | Podcast Guest on Show #95

The 'code' we live with (assuming you pull permits) is if you open an external wall during any rehab the insulation has to be updated. The latter is certainly a requirement when you need to open the walls to update wiring &/or windows.

From experience, 1912 era wall cavities would be devoid of any form of effective insulation. If the Landlord pays for the heat, upgrading is a no brainer. But it's also tough to raise rents & keep tenants if they are paying excessive heating costs. 

We took over a property that had $350-$400/month heating costs with rents stuck at $525/month.

We simply replaced the 30 yr old fce with a HiEff unit (plus a/c) & now get $780/month. 

$$$'s moved to our bottom line rather than feeding that of a bloated utility company :)

Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi.  You can in fact rent a 1912 house without either slim margins or frustration.

As for your actual question, Pat has it exactly right.  Open the cavity, you need to replace the insulation.

Originally posted by @Richard C. :

Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi.  You can in fact rent a 1912 house without either slim margins or frustration.

 Why to do say this? We live West of the Mississippi. I grew up in a house built in 1887 on "Officers Row" in Vancouver.  Vancouver was the first European settlement in the Pacific Northwest. We own rental houses here built in 1925, 1941, and 1950. There are plenty of us here who are familiar with "old" buildings.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
Originally posted by @Richard C.:

Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi.  You can in fact rent a 1912 house without either slim margins or frustration.

 Why to do say this? We live West of the Mississippi. I grew up in a house built in 1887 on "Officers Row" in Vancouver.  Vancouver was the first European settlement in the Pacific Northwest. We own rental houses here built in 1925, 1941, and 1950. There are plenty of us here who are familiar with "old" buildings.

 Read up-thread.

Originally posted by @Richard C. :
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:
Originally posted by @Richard C.:

Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi.

 Why to do say this? We live West of the Mississippi. I grew up in a house built in 1887 on "Officers Row" in Vancouver.  Vancouver was the first European settlement in the Pacific Northwest. We own rental houses here built in 1925, 1941, and 1950. There are plenty of us here who are familiar with "old" buildings.

 Read up-thread.

@Richard C. That is not an answer to my question. I already read the whole thread. Please consider that not only are there some old buildings West of the Mississippi and BP folks with experience with maintaining and updating them, but there are also many BP folks who live west of the Mississippi now who at one time lived in other areas of the country too and are drawing on a lifetime of experience. :-)

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
Originally posted by @Richard C.:
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:
Originally posted by @Richard C.:

Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi.

 Why to do say this? We live West of the Mississippi. I grew up in a house built in 1887 on "Officers Row" in Vancouver.  Vancouver was the first European settlement in the Pacific Northwest. We own rental houses here built in 1925, 1941, and 1950. There are plenty of us here who are familiar with "old" buildings.

 Read up-thread.

@Richard C. That is not an answer to my question. I already read the whole thread. Please consider that not only are there some old buildings West of the Mississippi and BP folks with experience with maintaining and updating them, but there are also many BP folks who live west of the Mississippi now who at one time lived in other areas of the country too and are drawing on a lifetime of experience. :-)

 And those particular Western BP members would probably not offer advice suggesting that it is difficult to make money renting a type of housing that represents the majority of the housing stock in large parts of the country.  

@Marcia Maynard   I think @Richard C. is referring to this remark by @Jordan T. 

1912? You better have a maintenance budget and hope the rents are at market premium or you're in for slim margins and frustration. 

The implication is that all old properties are bad investments.  Perhaps that's true in some places.  And older properties do have different issues than new ones.  But that's a pretty broad brush to paint all old properties as bad investments.

@Steven Fowler  the best way to get answers is to discuss this with the city.  Usually unless you're doing some work, you don't have to change anything.  But as soon as you do any remodeling you may have to conform to certain aspects of new building codes.  Some areas also have rental property inspections and may require certain work to be done.

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

@Marcia Maynard  I think @Richard C. is referring to this remark by @Jordan T. 

1912? You better have a maintenance budget and hope the rents are at market premium or you're in for slim margins and frustration. 

The implication is that all old properties are bad investments.  Perhaps that's true in some places.  And older properties do have different issues than new ones.  But that's a pretty broad brush to paint all old properties as bad investments.

Fair enough. I just thought it was mean spirited and a broad stroke for @Richard C to say "Listen to no advice regarding "old" buildings from anyone whose profile indicated they are located West of the Mississippi." There was another poster (@Curtis Bidwell) from the West who made a very good point in his post. And @Jordan T.'s mention about the need to have a maintenance budget is good and his opinion about slim margins and frustration may be from his experience and something for people to at least consider when evaluating an older property.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

It was really intended as a bit of a joke, not as something mean spirited.

There are an awful lot of post on BP to the effect that older buildings cannot be profitable, that buildings and neighborhoods inevitably move down-market as they age, even that wood frame construction is always and everywhere deemed inferior to masonry construction.

When in fact, that is all very local.  And the OP on this thread was posting from an address of Washington, DC.  Most of the most desirable neighborhoods in that city are compromised largely of building that date from well before 1912.  

Thanks guys for the valuable insight.  It turns out I don't have to bring insulation up to code on a property that old.  

With that said, I still would like to provide for a more comfortable living situation for my tenants without breaking the bank.  So, I'm thinking about insulating just the ceilings and walls of the bedrooms and the living room.  What do you all think about that?