The First Thing You Should Do Before Buying An Old House, Per Dave & Jenny Marrs

As much as HGTV's Dave and Jenny Marrs love old houses, they will be the first to tell you that buying and owning one comes with a unique set of challenges and necessary considerations. Though the duo always recommends having a thorough home inspection done by a professional prior to buying any home, this is especially important if the home was built decades ago. Not only are older homes more prone to developing issues and sustaining other types of wear and damage over the years, they can also pose serious health risks. That's why Dave told Better Homes & Gardens that, "Spending a little extra money on an inspector is absolutely worth it," as professionals can detect these issues and potential dangers.

"As a builder, you would think I would hate (home inspections), but no," Dave previously told House Digest. "It's a set of eyes that will look and find stuff you didn't know about before you buy the house. These old homes have a lot of surprises, good and bad." A home inspector can detect any traces of lead paint, which can help you decide whether you want to buy the house or not. If you do decide to buy, the knowledge will help you set up plans to have the lead paint painted over or safely and professionally removed before you move in.

The importance of checking for lead paint

While Dave and Jenny Marrs often renovate hundred-year-old houses, a home doesn't necessarily have to be all that historic to be at risk of containing traces of lead paint. In fact, if your house was built prior to 1978, it is possible that lead paint was used on the interior and/or the exterior. Lead paint is commonly found during home inspections in older houses underneath layers of newer paint from previous owners.

While undisturbed lead-based paint doesn't necessarily present an immediate health risk, when the paint becomes chipped, starts to peel, or is damaged in any way, you and your household are at risk of lead exposure and poisoning. Lead poisoning is permanent and can damage your organs and body's neurological functions, potentially even leading to death. In addition to the risk of inhalation of lead-based paint dust, the presence of larger paint chips can also put young children at an even higher risk for lead poisoning, as they are prone to putting things in their mouths.

Though safely having traces of lead professionally removed from your home can be expensive and push back your moving plans, it's important to take care of it before doing anything else. "Lead abatement is common with historic houses," Dave said in Season 4, Episode 12 of "Fixer to Fabulous." "It adds dollars to our budget, and it adds time. But we have to be safe and do it the right way."