Inspecting Century Homes is always an experience, some worse than others.

Inspecting Century Homes is always an interesting experience.  There is always the possibility of poor or damaged structural supports, galvanized plumbing, knob and tube wiring and asbestos.  Many times I have found remnants of all these items left somewhere in the home.  As a home buyer you want to know the extent of these issues and the costs of removal.

Inspecting Century Home Surprises

In the Ontario real estate market there are bidding wars happening for buyers trying to purchase Century Homes.  I have always maintained that buying a Century Home is a labour of love.  You have to put aside thoughts of level walls and floors and trade them for the ambiance and nostalgia that comes from owning a Century Home.

As the Alliston Home Inspector, I am frequently referred to clients who are purchasing a Century Home, mainly due to the amount of experience and the many articles I have written on inspecting Century Homes.

I would like to share with you just some of the common issues I find when inspecting these lovely examples of past architecture.  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues found.



Possible Asbestos - Old Style Wall Grille Whenever I see an old style wall grill like this in an older home, one thing comes to mind, ASBESTOS!  Most of the time when I remove the cover of an old wall grill I find that the heat duct has been wrapped in ASBESTOS.  Many home inspectors will not take the time to remove the grill cover as the screw heads are usually filled with 50 years worth of paint, but I always do.Inspecting Century Homes - Asbestos on Heating Duct

And has you can see the thin layer of insulation attached to heat duct is ASBESTOS.  This is a common discovery for me when inspecting homes, so I always remove the heat duct covers to check.   I recently inspected a home which had a Pre-Inspected sign from a Local Home Inspector on the lawn.  I was surprised to find Asbestos lining the heat ducts and even called the home inspector just to give him a “heads up” to what he had missed.  He does not remove covers for heat ducts, so never would have found the asbestos.


Galvanized Plumbing

Inspecting Century Homes - Galvanized PipeGalvanized plumbing was popular back in the day.  Galvanized plumbing has not been used since the late 1950’s and any existing galvanized plumbing is well past its life expectancy.  Most insurance companies will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing.  When buying a Century Home you have to be very observant to spot any galvanized plumbing.  Many times all visible galvanized has been replaced but the plumbing supply between floors remains galvanized.   Everyone knows that their home will be inspected and many times will try and cover up any deficiencies that may be difficult or expensive to repair.


Knob & Tube Wiring

Knob and Tube Connected to RomexKnob & Tube wiring is easily recognized by it porcelain insulators and tubes. Most homes built prior to early fifties had this type of electrical wiring installed.  Over the years some older homes have had newer romex cables installed but the knob and tube wiring still exists.  Most insurance companies will not insure a home with any knob and tube wiring installed.  Most Century Homes will have all the accessible K&T wires removed but it can still be found in service shafts and in attics.


Building Permits

In Ontario any structural modification requires a building permit be taken out and the work must have prior approval and be inspected when completed.  The basements of Century Homes is where most modifications are done,  and unfortunately a lot are done without the required approvals.  Many times a temporary jack has been improperly installed to support main beam of house.  This was done using wrong type of support and without necessary permits.

Electrical Modifications

Many home owners try and save money by doing their own electrical work or using someone who has just enough knowledge to be dangerous.  Items such as a pony panel has service connections going through main panel and cables are compressed by service panel divider plate are typical DIY electrical issuses.  This is the type of electrical deficiencies you encounter when buying a renovated home that did not have an electrical inspection.

Home Inspection

Many of the items identified could cost many thousands of dollars to repair.   Buyers who have a professional home inspection will have the knowledge to either have seller repair problems or adjust the price accordingly.   The cost of a home inspection is around $400.00, which when compared to potential costs which will be incurred if any of these issues are present, is quite a smart investment.

What to expect from your Home Inspection
Common Defects found During Home Inspection
Inspecting Your Roof
Alliston Home Inspector Qualifications
Home Inspection Basics
Cost of Home Inspection