Challenges of Renovating an Old House and How to Beat Them

Old houses have a lot of history, memories and charm, but when it comes to renovations, they’re not charming at all. Renovating such a home can be very demanding, and consume a lot of time, money, energy and patience. Most old houses have similar problems, so use this guide to identify and deal with them, and make your renovation goes as smoothly as possible.


Moisture build up is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to old house renovation. Moisture doesn’t only have that distinctive unpleasant smell, it also looks less than appealing and causes major issues with your home later on. It can also damage your electric appliances, cause mold and pests to appear, create big structural issues, and most importantly, be hazardous to your health and health of your loved ones. The most efficient way to overcome this challenge is to locate a leak, seal it and use proper ventilation to keep humidity at bay. You can even install control humidifiers to provide additional protection.

Dry rot

The biggest problem with dry rot is that it’s not visible until you start your renovation. Dry rot is a fungus that grows inside wet wood, softening it. It can be recognized by white stains that pop out. Dry rot is hard to contain because even after you’ve fixed the leak it continues to spread and cause more damage. You can replace the damaged wood yourself, but if the wood in question is located in structural support, better leave it to professionals.

Bad foundation

No matter the level of renovation you’re planning to do on your old house, it’s always smart to check the state of the foundation. Cracks and faults in the foundation can cause major structural issues in the future, so better handle them as soon as possible. Some countries even have laws that state that foundation must be examined before moving in or starting any renovation. Unfortunately, foundation problems are not easy to fix, and more serious problems almost always require professional help.


Plumbing problems are another common challenge during an old home renovation. If your home was built before the 1960s, there’s a good chance it has galvanized pipes. These pipes get clogged and corrode easily, so you’ll probably want to replace them with copper or PVC ones. It’s best to handle this problem while pipes are exposed since it’ll save you a lot of money and time, not to mention the fact you won’t have to deal with the mess twice.

Electrical issues

Electrical systems back in the day were not made to handle modern appliances, and the wiring is usually not grounded. You can check if your system is grounded by looking at your outlets. Two pronged outlets are not grounded and three pronged ones usually are. It’s smart to update your wiring because old and faulty one can cause short circuits and turn into house fires. When dealing with electrical work, it’s best to call an experienced Sydney electrician to inspect and update your wiring system. You should also insist on installing circuit interrupter that will cut off power the moment a problem occurs, preventing fire.

Remove unsafe materials such as lead and asbestos

Most of the houses built 30-40 years ago contain lead paint and asbestos in the floors, ductwork, ceiling and HVAC system. Even though these materials are not harmful if undisturbed, every cut and scrape to it can create dust that’s very hazardous when inhaled. It can cause chronic lung disease and even cancer. You can detect lead and asbestos yourself with kits, but when it comes to removing them, you’ll need professionals.

Even though renovating an old house requires a lot of work and patience, once you overcome these challenges, you’ll have a beautiful and safe home full of memories, history and charm. Don’t expect everything to go according to the plan, but even if you come across a few obstacles, there’s nothing that can’t be handled with a little help from professionals. 

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