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Buying an older home in Boston is common and there are several things you must look for. This is Part 2 of our four-part blog series on what to consider when buying an older home in Boston. Make sure you start at the beginning with Part 1, if you haven’t already and don’t forget about Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.

Moving on to the next item on the list after knob-and-tube wiring, let’s continue looking at what you should be aware of with older homes in Boston.

Lead Pipes/Cast-Iron Pipes

Pipes were commonly made of lead, cast-iron, or bronze in older Boston homes. Today, it’s more common to see copper or some form of plastic used for water pipes.

Lead pipes are very concerning as lead can be absorbed through food, air, and water. This can lead to lead poisoning, which can damage the reproductive system and the kidneys within the body.

While older lead pipes are not automatically a threat to your health, some are a problem. Sometimes, the lead pipes form a layer of oxidized metal on the surface of the pipe, which keeps the water from coming in contact with the lead.

Cast-iron pipes present another issue, which is corrosion. Over time, these pipes corrode, which can result in lower water pressure and leaks. A leak or moisture problem can cause mold and many other issues.

No matter the type of pipes used in the older home you’re considering, make sure you get the pipes inspected. You may have to replace the pipes and that can be a big expense. Even if the pipes are safe and in good condition, they may cause future issues. Be aware of what you’re buying with the plumbing in your older Boston home.


A highly dangerous material used in construction before 1989, asbestos can be found in many older Boston homes. It was used due to the flame retardant properties, but it has also been known to cause cancer in the lungs.

If the older home you’re looking at has asbestos, you will need to pay to have it removed and replaced with something safer. This can be a bit pricey, but the good news is, a good home inspector will catch this issue for you.

Lead Paint

Lead Paint in Older Homes

We have all heard stories about how dangerous lead paint can be. This is a problem you must address if you buy an older home in Boston. Those with children under the age of six are forced, by federal law to remove lead from the home, if it’s found.

Consumption of lead can cause major health issues, and it’s worse in growing children. Lead paint was used before 1978 and those selling older homes must disclose any possibility of lead paint to buyers and renters.

You cannot simply paint over lead paint to make it safe as it will still be found under the new paint. Make sure you understand the Massachusetts laws about lead paint and what you will need to do if you buy an older Boston home with lead paint.

There are several more things to cover when it comes to buying an older home in Boston. Check out the rest of this blog series by going to Part 3 here or Part 4 here.

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