Toronto is an old city, so of course, it has a lot of really old houses. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find houses here that are over 100 years old. When you’re thinking about buying a house that old, there’s a lot of things that made sense or were the norm at that time that you might want to look out for now. Here are 5 of them:


5. Knob-and-Tube Wiring.

buying an old house knob and tube

What is it exactly? Knob-and tube-wiring gets its name from the insulator knobs used to keep the wires from making contact with anything and the ceramic tubes that run the wires through wooden floor joists or studs. Is it dangerous? Not necessarily. It’s just an old way of doing things. But, some insurance companies will refuse to insure a home that has it, which means it might need to be updated, and updating knob-and-tube to a more modern system can costs 10s of thousands to complete.


4. Oil Heating Systems

old house oil tank

Homes that are heated by oil will have a huge, unsightly oil tank somewhere in the home; most likely the basement. While they’re not dangerous, they’re basically considered obsolete, and they can be expensive to run and to maintain; and if you want to remove it and upgrade the whole system, that will cost you too.


3. Lead Paint.

It sounds crazy to think that people would paint their walls with paint that contained lead, but they did. Paint made before 1980 had some lead in it, but paint made before 1950 had a lot of lead in it. If that paint When that paint chips or is sanded down, it releases lead particles into the air, and you’ll breathe it in.


2. Asbestos.

While it was widely accepted in the 20s and 30s as the insulation of choice, we now know that asbestos can cause Mesothelioma, or even lung cancer. You’ll 100% need to get rid of it, which can be a costly job depending on its location in the house and how much there is.


1. Mold.

Mold is a pretty common problem that isn’t limited to old houses, but little foundation cracks and imperfections in the foundation and an old humid basement is a recipe for mold. It’s not impossilbe to get rid of, but it can take a lot of time and a lot of money to do it correctly.



Did I miss anything that you’d look out for in an old house? Let me know in the comments below.


Thanks for reading.

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  1. Good list. I’d also say raccoons and general pests would be a good thing to look for too. Not limited to old houses though.

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