Tips for Inspecting Your New Historic Home

The Center for Historic Franklin Residences is devoted to bringing readers the best information about this wonderful city’s historic real estate offerings. If you decide to buy a historic home in Franklin, you’ll probably have some questions about how to inspect or take care of the house. We have some tips to share. Buying a historic house is a worthwhile endeavor, but it could involve expensive and complex renovation. You should know about this before you buy.

Hiring an inspector is essential in any home purchase transaction, but this hire is especially important with older buildings. Ideally, the professional you hire will have experience inspecting historic homes. This person will know what to do, but be sure to point them to the following areas that may have specific damage in your new home.


The roof. You and your inspector should examine this part of the home both close-up and from a distance. Does the line sag? Does the chimney lean? Is there any sign of rot, cracking, or other, weather-related damage (as many Franklin, MA homes are wont to have)? If the house has a chimney, you should also see if the flue liner is intact.


The windows. Be sure to check if the windows are original or have been recently replaced. If they are old, you may want to consider investing in better insulated windows to guard against the harsh New England winters. Look for signs of broken class, damaged sills, and stuck rails. Older windows are also often covered in lead paint, so you’ll want to check for that, too.


The basement. Most Franklin historic homes have unfinished basements, so you’ll need to check out the situation before signing the papers. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of water damage, including puddles, clogged drains, or a sump pump. Does the current owner have their belongings up on risers instead of the floor? That’s a stealthier sign that water has been a problem.


The attic. You’ll want to pay attention to the upper floor of your historic home. Make sure there are no pests or wildlife by looking out for nests, hives, and signs of animal damage. Check for holes in the roof not visible from the outside and see if there is climate-appropriate insulation.


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