Homes and buildings age and may begin to show signs of problems over time. No matter the materials or quality of construction, as a home settles and ages, components can fail. Here is a list of common concerns in older homes. If you’re thinking about buying a house that’s more than 20 years old, ask your inspector to check for these issues.

Roof Damage is a Concern in Older Homes

The average asphalt shingle roof can be expected to last between 15 and 25 years. If a home is older, find out when the roof was last replaced. A damaged or failing roof can lead to structural issues, property damage, and mold growth inside the home.


Lack of maintenance is a concern with any home, but especially an older home. You want the home you’re moving into to be well cared for. Look for signs of neglect. You may notice broken appliances, rusting fixtures, cracked paint, and stained flooring and tile.

Concerns About Lead-Based Paint in Older Homes

In 1978, lead additives were banned from use in interior paint. A home built before the late 1970s may have lead-based paint. The paint is considered safe if it is intact and not peeling, flaking, or crumbling. However, it’s still important to know if it’s in your home. Have your home tested for lead paint to make sure it is safe for you and your family.

Foundation Concerns in Older Homes

The foundation supports the house. If it’s old and has shifted or settled, damage may have occurred. There are a few obvious signs of foundation issues in the home. If the floors are sloping, the home may have settled. You may also see cracks in the drywall or notice doors and windows that don’t close properly. A professional home inspector will assess the foundation and provide an expert opinion about its condition.

Buried Fuel Tanks

An underground fuel tank was a common way to store heating oil for the home. Over time, these tanks could rust or collapse, leaking fuel oil into the ground. Because a buried fuel tank poses an environmental risk, many mortgage lenders won’t provide a loan on a property with an underground tank.

If you’re considering buying an older home, hire a home inspector to examine the property. Your inspector will do a thorough assessment and provide a report of any defects, problems, and safety concerns so you can make a smart decision about the investment.

When you need inspection services, get in touch with House Doctor Home Inspection. Contact us if you’re buying a home in Rhode Island.