When you start house hunting, you’ll come across homes of all ages. But does the age of a house really matter? The answer is that it depends.
In some cases, an older home will require more work. On the other hand, many newer homes won’t have the same character you find in older construction. Not to mention, rushed new constructions can present a plethora of problems.
This article will outline every aspect of new and old construction you should consider when house hunting. Once you’re done, you’ll know whether the age of a house matters.
Lifespan of Common House Systems
The housing components that differ from old and new construction fall into two categories: easy to replace and difficult to replace.
Easy To Replace
Housing components that are easy to replace vary in cost but are always a relatively simple feat to take care of. Although you might need to hire a contractor in some cases, these jobs won’t take up much of your time.
Most homes will come equipped with standard kitchen appliances. In many cases, you’ll also get a washer and dryer with your purchase.
If you’re lucky enough to purchase a home with appliances, find out how old they are. Take a look at the table below to see a breakdown of expected appliance lifespans.
|Gas Range or Oven
|Electric Range or Oven
Fortunately, even if the appliances in an older home are nearing end-of-life, they’re easy to replace. You might even be able to work new appliances into the cost of the house.
Your heating, ventilation, and cooling system allows you to maintain a balanced temperature, control humidity, and deter mold growth. However, when you purchase an older home, you risk an older HVAC system.
A well-kept HVAC will need replacing after about 15 years. Although units can last far longer, most older air conditioning units use R22 coolant, which is getting phased out. Fortunately, replacing furnaces and AC units is an easy, albeit pricey, task.
Faucets and Fixtures
The faucets on your sinks see excessive use throughout each day. Due to excessive use, you can expect your faucets to last about 15 years, while a sink could last upwards of 50, depending on the material.
Similarly, showerheads can last indefinitely, as can toilets, shower stalls, and tubs. However, each of those fixtures requires maintenance to ensure nothing breaks. A broken tile or deteriorated hose can cause leaks, leading to significant damage throughout your home.
Harder To Replace
While replacing appliances, fixtures, and your HVAC can typically be done in a few hours, that’s not the case for all repairs. If any of the following systems in your older home need to be replaced, you could be faced with several days of repairs, not to mention more risk for damage.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, older homes with aluminum wiring are about 55 times more likely to have fire hazards at their outlets and junctions than homes with copper. Most newer homes use copper wiring, which is sturdier and better at conducting electricity.
Another issue with older homes is knob-and-tube wiring. Most common in homes built between 1880 and 1940, knob-and-tube wiring comes with a few hazards. The wires’ insulation is flammable, isn’t grounded, and is more likely to have unsafe modifications.
Windows are one of those home systems you probably don’t think about much. This is especially true if you have older, single-pane windows.
The wooden windows on old homes typically have a long lifespan when adequately cared for. On the other hand, modern aluminum windows last roughly 15 to 20 years.
A concern with newer windows is that they’re often double or triple-paned. While that makes them excellent insulators, you’ll have foggy and inefficient windows once a seal breaks. However, these newer windows are still better at insulating than older single-pane glass.
Further Reading: Why Do Old Houses Have Windows Above Doors?
A roof might be the most critical home feature to maintain. A small leak can lead to catastrophic damage throughout your home. Not to mention, an aging roof can cause your energy bills to skyrocket. Conversely, many newer roofs are Energy Star certified to maximize efficiency.
A standard asphalt shingle roof should last about 25 years. Stone, copper, or concrete roofs have a far longer lifespan, lasting up to 50 years or more. If your home has wood shingles on the roof, expect to replace them after approximately 30 years.
One of the most coveted features of older homes is pristine wood flooring. Hardwood floors have character and richness and provide the perfect backdrop for any decor. Other flooring types include vinyl, laminate, linoleum, and tile. Each type has its own life expectancy, which you can see in the table below.
|100 years +
|15 to 25 years
|Ceramic or Porcelain
No matter the age of your home, you’ll probably need to replace one or more floors at some point. When looking at homes, be sure to have your inspector examine the floors, including the subflooring. Older and newer homes can have failing floors due to a faulty subfloor.
Read More: Is It Normal For An Old House To Settle?
Plumbing and Sewage
Your plumbing and septic systems are crucial to a functioning home, but they’re also the most costly to repair. A high repair cost is especially true of older homes due to the type of pipes used and all homes with a septic system.
Many older homes have lead, Orangeburg, or poorly insulated plumbing. These plumbing systems are subject to health hazards, freezing, or collapse. Similarly, septic systems age out after about 25 years. When it comes to plumbing, newer homes have far more benefits than older homes.
Read More: Are 1970s Houses Built Well?
So, does the age of a house matter? Ultimately, it all depends on what you’re up for replacing. Newer homes are typically move-in ready, while older homes often need a lot of TLC. However, old homes tend to provide character you don’t find in new construction. So, when choosing between new and old, weigh your expectations and limitations before deciding.