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Boston is filled with beautiful older homes, some are even historic. If you want to own a piece of history or you just prefer the character of an older home, there are a few things you should know first.

When you buy a single-family home in Boston, Brookline or Milton, it’s a rather big undertaking. The process of buying a home can be confusing and stressful. In addition, when you decide on one of the homes built decades ago, or even a century ago, it can become even more stressful.

There are things you want to pay attention to during the buying process to avoid surprises later. Here’s the first part in this four-part blog posts about what to consider when buying an older home in Boston.

The Roof

An old roof can be a big issue. It could be leaky or it may simply need to be replaced. The roof of any home can be expensive to replace and you should pay close attention to the roof with an older home.

Look for signs of wear and tear, such as missing shingles or moss, or even patches of new shingles replacing old shingles. If the home needs a new roof, make sure you factor this into your offer.

The Foundation

There is nothing more important than the foundation of a home. A weak foundation may cause many issues you simply don’t want to deal with. If it’s cracked, sunken, or damaged in any way, you need to know what it will cost to fix. Foundation issues are not all equal, but they can be rather expensive to repair.

It’s best to have an inspector come out and look at the foundation specifically. This will ensure you have a good base for your older home in Boston or you at least know what to expect with repairs.

Many older Boston homes may have dry stone foundations, which can be difficult to repair properly. If you do buy a home with a dry stone foundation in need of repairs, make sure you hire an expert to handle these repairs for you.


Your home’s insulation helps to keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Without good insulation, you may have an inflated energy bill or you may struggle to heat or cool the home. Make sure the home has good insulation or you could end up spending a fortune to insulate the home before you can properly heat or cool it.

Knob-and-Tube Wiring

Knob-and-Tube Wiring

Older Boston homes are notorious for knob-and-tube wiring. This was a commonly used wiring method from about 1880 through the 1930s. With the advancements in technology, it’s common for homes with knob-and-tube wiring to struggle to keep up.

These older wiring systems were also susceptible to homeowner abuse. Blown fuses often were replaced with fuses rated for a higher current, which put the wiring at risk of fire or damage.

When you buy an older home in Boston with knob-and-tube wiring, it may be difficult to get insurance coverage. You may have to re-wire the entire house, which can be expensive and a large undertaking.

There are several other things to look for when buying an older home in Boston. Make sure to check out Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this blog series for more things to look for during the home search process.

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