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What To Look For When Buying An Older Home

Published on July 11, 2018   Tips Insurance

When looking at purchasing a house there are many things to consider. You may be focusing on what the home looks like and functionality of the home but an equally important part of the home you is checking on the roof, plumbing, heating and electrical. Some of these items could affect your ability to purchase insurance or the type of insurance coverage available to you.

Below we will take a little closer look at each item.


If the roof of your new home is 25 years old or older you will likely need to replace it shortly after moving in. Depending on the condition of the roof and the insurance company that your insurance is placed with, there may be limited coverage placed on your roof.


Most older homes (pre 1950) would have been built with galvanized plumbing. The average life expectancy of these pipes is approximately 40-50 years. These pipes will rust and/or corrode over the years from the inside out, which would eventually result in significant water damage.

Replacing the plumbing with Copper or plastic pipes will likely be required.

While there aren’t any specific requirements for hot water tanks, you should take note of how old the hot water tank is when purchasing a home. If it’s older than 20 years old you should be prepared to replace it soon, however if it’s newer, some insurance markets might provide a discount.


The furnace in the home may require annual inspections or replacement if it is older than 25 years old. One thing to consider is the newer the furnace the more efficient it might be and replacing the furnace could be a costly expense.


Homes that were built pre 1950 likely contain knob and tube wiring. If you’re purchasing a home that has this type of wiring be prepared to replace it. Many insurance companies will give you 30-60 days to have the electrical replaced after moving in.

During the 1970’s aluminum wiring was common as well. Generally this wiring is acceptable but if it has been tampered with it could be dangerous. Generally you shouldn’t have an issue placing insurance with this type of wiring, but should be prepared to provide an approved electrical inspection.

One other thing to take note of while looking at the home is whether the electrical panel is fuses or breakers and how many amps it is - 60 amp / 100 amp / 200 amp.

Sump pump and Backwater Valve

Sump pumps and backwater valves didn’t become common in homes till the mid 1980’s. If the home you’re looking at is older it wouldn’t have been built with a sump pump or backwater valve. It’s possible that they could have been added after, so you should check the “furnace room” area of the home to look so evidence that they have been added.

While both of these aren’t required to purchase insurance, it could limit the amount of sewer backup coverage that you can add on to your policy.

These are just a handful of items to consider when purchasing a home and your ability to get insurance.

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