How Long Does a Home Last?

A brand new home on a tree-lined street

We have to clear something up first: a house can’t technically ‘die’.

A house is made out of parts, after all. Certain parts may break down, but unless the place is getting demolished, it’s hard to actually call it ‘dead’ (it’s not like a house ‘breaks down’, or breathes it’s last breath).

They don’t really have an ‘age’ either, but we won’t get into that.

So your answer? With the right maintenance, a house can last a really, really long time, perhaps over a hundred years. They often outlive people.

This is nice to hear, especially in Portland and Vancouver where homes can get pretty old. Some of the oldest homes in Portland date back to 1862. Those are maintained rigorously, perhaps more so than your average residential home.

An old home brings plenty of charm, and it’s easy to see why people like to buy them. But buying an old home brings its risks and it’s potential repairs.

When a house goes on the market, you can assume the seller has done their part in dressing the home up. Any flaws have probably been covered up or could even be unbeknownst to the seller. For these reasons, a home inspection is quite important (trust us, you don’t want to find cracks in your foundation a few weeks after your big purchase).

Besides foundation, the other big ones you want to look out for are plumbing, flooring, wiring and the roof. These are the big ticket repairs.

When you’re deciding on an older home, know that certain materials age better, too. Many American homes are built with wood frames, which could need earlier repairs than say, brick or granite (like what you see with European homes).

When we’re talking floors, you’ll favor homes that have wood, marble, slate or granite. According to This Old House, each of these can last 100 years or more, depending on the maintenance. Other items are like vinyl (50-year life expectancy), linoleum (25 years) and carpet (8-10 years) last much shorter.

Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it has problems, or needs repairs. These are just some things to look out for. After all, you can keep a house going for a long time by keeping up with regular repairs. We just want you to keep these things in mind if it’s an older home that you’re seeking.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We can help by discussing how to prepare for your home inspection, as well as any potential red flags to look for as you shop.