Navigating Historic Homes: What to Expect During a Home Inspection in Montgomery

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Montgomery is a city steeped in rich history, with homes reflecting stunning architecture from periods like Greek Revival, Victorian, and Neoclassical. While these historic gems exude incredible character and charm, they also come with their unique considerations for home inspections.

If you’re looking to purchase a historic property in Montgomery, having the right home inspector who understands the nuances of older construction is critical. Issues that might seem like minor details in a newer home can potentially point to much larger, costlier problems in historic residences.

At Ally Property Inspection, our certified home inspectors have extensive experience evaluating historic homes across Montgomery and the surrounding areas. We know exactly where to look and what to look for to ensure our clients have a complete picture of their potential investment.

In this article, we’ll walk through what to expect when getting a historic home inspected and the key areas that require extra attention.

Hitting the Right Notes on Age

One of the first things to consider with a historic home inspection is the property’s age and materials used. We’re not talking 1990s “historic” here – homes from the late-1800s and early-1900s were constructed far differently than modern houses.

Solid masonry exteriors with plaster interior walls were common in the Victorian era, as opposed to modern wood framing. The condition and methods used for plaster need to be thoroughly evaluated. Has it started cracking or deteriorating? Does it likely contain hazardous materials like asbestos?

The foundation and its materials (often brick, stone, or hand-poured concrete) have to be examined for signs of settling, erosion, or cracking that can lead to major structural issues. Historic foundation repairs can be extremely costly.

Perhaps the home has original wood floors throughout – our inspection should determine if any sections have deteriorated beyond repair or need refinishing. Evaluating the age and condition of the windows is also critical, as replacing true divided lights with modern vinyl can severely impact the architectural integrity.

Overall, we have to assess how well-aging building materials and structural elements have withstood the test of time. An issue like wood rot has to be caught early, or the required repairs can quickly spiral out of control.

Electrical and Plumbing Deficiencies

Among the top concerns with most historic home inspections are the electrical, plumbing, and other major systems that were installed during the original construction. These are areas that likely require substantial upgrades to meet modern safety standards and efficiency.

For example, early knob-and-tube wiring or fuse boxes present serious fire hazards that need to be remedied with total rewiring. Old galvanized steel pipes can develop major corrosion and water pressure issues over the decades. An antiquated HVAC system may need to be replaced entirely for proper heating/cooling.

But improving things like electrical panels and plumbing often involves opening up walls and ceilings in historic homes – creating a whole new set of challenges. We’ll outline where those improvements need to take place so any related interior restoration work can be properly planned for.

Special Inspections and Testing

Beyond just the visual examination, historic home inspections frequently require specialized testing and inspections to evaluate various components. These add further clarity on a property’s condition but also introduce added costs for the buyer:

  • Sewer line inspections via camera to determine if cast iron pipes need to be replaced
  • Well water or city water quality testing to check for any contamination issues
  • Infrared/thermal imaging to look for moisture intrusion or missing insulation
  • Lead-based paint testing (common in older homes pre-1970s)
  • Asbestos testing of insulation, siding, flooring, plaster, and other suspect materials
  • Radon gas testing (could be high in older homes)

Termites and other wood-destroying insects/organisms also have to be on the radar during an inspection. Even just a hint of termite tunnels or “frass” signifies bringing in a pest professional to inspect further and treat if needed.

For historic homes serviced by septic tanks, we’ll want to have that system fully evaluated as well. Older septic systems might be undersized by modern standards or in need of repairs.

Overall, the more information we can gather about all facets of the property, the better-prepared buyers can be for what renovations and costs they may be taking on.

Examining Building Code Compliance

One other key item on our inspectors’ radar relates to building code compliance. Remember, construction codes and regulations have evolved significantly over the past century. So issues relating to things like ceiling heights, egress windows, stair geometries, and room dimensions may exist in historic homes.

If renovations or additions were completed at some point without permits or proper inspections, that can become a major headache for new buyers looking to make future changes. We’ll check for any obvious signs of unpermitted work that may require remediation.

During an inspection, we’ll also examine aspects like original fire separations, ventilation requirements, and hazards/vulnerabilities related to outdated building practices. This is valuable insight for initiating code compliance projects proactively, instead of waiting until they become an issue during future renovations.

Making the Old New Again

While uncovering defects or outdated conditions in historic homes may seem like a negative takeaway from an inspection, it provides clarity and a roadmap for buyers. Knowing about any non-compliant systems, structural deficiencies, or outdated components from the start empowers new owners to properly budget and plan for renovations.

At Ally Property Inspection, we strongly encourage clients interested in historic residences to go into the transaction with their eyes wide open. While these homes exude incredible character that lends to Montgomery’s architectural identity, they also tend to have far more issues that will need remediation compared to newer construction.

Understanding the full scope of any health/safety issues or deferred maintenance takes the unknown out of the equation. It better positions buyers to set realistic expectations and timelines for bringing older homes back up to modern standards.

Receiving a comprehensive, detailed report from our inspectors will outline all findings – both positive and negative. It’s our role to deliver those factual observations and recommendations without any agenda, so buyers can make informed decisions. We’ll identify any areas of immediate concern as well as provide rough budget estimates for common historic home renovations.

Our Inspection Advantage

For buyers pursuing historic properties in Montgomery, having an inspection team with extensive experience in this specialized facet of real estate is invaluable. There are far too many nuances and details that untrained inspectors simply are not privy to.

Our team has spent years fine-tuning our historic home inspection process, leaning on our knowledge of period architecture, construction methods, and building codes. We know exactly where to look for issues based on when and how a home was built – ensuring no stone gets left unturned.

We take immense pride in Montgomery’s historic housing stock and recognize the integral role these properties play in preserving our city’s character. As both highly experienced inspectors and community stakeholders ourselves, we’re passionate about helping buyers navigate the process of maintaining these unique gems for decades to come.

From our initial call to our thorough final report, our entire home inspection Montgomery process is geared around streamlining the due diligence and facilitating confidence for discerning buyers.

We’ll be in regular communication throughout every step to answer questions and allow buyers to attend the inspection if desired. You’ll be briefed on-site regarding any major findings, with our full report arriving promptly after. Beyond just the raw data, we’ll provide context and repair narratives to fully interpret any conditions uncovered.

So before purchasing your historic home in Montgomery, let Ally Property Inspection certified inspectors be your guide and trusted resource. We’ll empower you with the information needed to move forward with your investment while preserving the authenticity of the property.