How to Decide Which Upgrades You Should Make to Your Older Home

Blog Image

Homes that have been lived in and loved offer a certain warmth and appeal, but they often come with their fair share of necessary updates. Sometimes homeowners should look at the aesthetics, and other times there are safety concerns that must be brought up to speed. Find a company that offers tips on how to sort out the top priorities and what is involved when you have an older home that needs a little TLC.

Pretty Is as Pretty Does

While we all want a home that looks beautiful, older houses often harbor hazards that should be dealt with prior to aesthetics. Some of that might depend on the age of your house. For instance, Real Simple explains 87 percent of homes built before 1940 contain lead-based paint. For homes built between 1960 and 1977, the number drops to 24 percent. After that, lead-based paint was banned nationwide, although a small fraction of newer structures could still contain some lead-based paint.

If you don’t intend to disturb the paint, you don’t need to worry about the lead. On the other hand, if you have renovations that could involve lead-based painted surfaces, consider testing your home for lead paint. If your tests prove positive, it’s necessary to hire a contractor with expertise in removing lead from your home. You can expect to pay $8 to $15 per square foot for this service.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Painted surfaces are just one potential worry if you own an older home. Within your home’s walls could be other issues, such as electrical problems or plumbing concerns. Even though these things are out of your field of vision, unfortunately, that doesn’t make them benign, and whether or not they function can affect your daily life.

According to NearSay, some common electrical problems lurking in older homes include things like excessive wattage and weakened electrical connections. You might have dead outlets, flickering lights, or notice bulbs burning out more quickly than they should. If you need to hire an electrician, note the average hourly rate is from $40 to $100.

Another hidden concern relates to your home’s plumbing. Homes built before 1990 sometimes have lead, polybutylene, or galvanized pipes, any of which could leach toxins into your water. What’s more, sometimes shifting ground or age can cause pipes and junctions to gradually fail. Jobs vary greatly in size and cost, but the average homeowner pays $45 to $90 per hour to hire a journeyman plumber.

Aiming for Aesthetics

Perhaps you already dealt with any hazardous concerns, or your home is free of them thanks to being newer. If you’re free to focus on aesthetics, there are a couple of common eyesores owners of older homes frequently come across. One is old wallpaper, and the other is tired hardwood floors.

Wallpaper is yet another problematic issue that directs the attention of homeowners to the walls. Stripping old wallpaper can be a tedious job, but it’s something you can do yourself, and depending on the surfaces and materials involved, you might need to rent a steamer or buy special supplies for the job. If you decide to pay a pro for removal, it will normally cost around $1 to $4 per square foot, and an average room will have an allowance of 2 hours to clean walls and patch any damage.

Last but far from least are your home’s floors. If you have old hardwood floors that have seen better days, it’s important to understand they might not be as bad off as you think. If your floors aren’t too damaged, you might be able to get by with recoating them, which skips sanding out damage. Recoating can run around $1 to $2 per square foot, which is significantly less than the $4 to $7.50 per square foot for an average refinishing job.

Covering the Costs

Maintaining and upgrading an older home can get pricey fast. If you’ve decided the upgrades are worth the effort, particularly if you plan to stay in your home for at least five more years, a loan or a refinance can be the easiest ways to cover the costs. Oftentimes a refinance is more ideal since you can cash out some of your home equity while lowering your mortgage payment. For more information on refinancing, check out the refi FAQ from PennyMac.


Older homes are filled with charm, but sometimes they also hold unseen issues. Deal with safety concerns first, then bring aesthetics up to speed. With a little TLC, you can bring out the best in your older home.

Are you ready to update your older home? Don’t hesitate to turn to the experts if you need any help.

About The Author: Dan Hall is the founder of Dads Change, a community of dads who want to show their support for fathers everywhere. He hopes the information and support provided by Dads Change helps community members on the hard days and serves as a reminder about why being a father is the gift of a lifetime.
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

Search Our Blog