The 1960’s Home

Anyone looking for a single family detached house in Irvine and wanting a newer home with a lot size larger than 6,000 square feet for under $800,000 is going to have a hard time finding it right now. The master planned communities of Irvine and other similar cities typically are not designed to give you so much land.


For those who want that larger lot size for a lower price that are willing to look outside of these master planned communities, you don’t have to look far to find some wonderful, charming homes with 7,000+ square foot lots that can be more affordable than places like Irvine. One big trade-off is that you’re probably looking at a home that is built in or around the 1960’s.

Some people love the idea of an older home with seemingly more “character.” One big difference is that there typically is no homeowner’s association to deal with, so you have less red tape and usually more freedom to upgrade and/or alter your home both inside and out.

Although there are some exceptionally well-updated 1960’s homes, many out there that are typically more “affordable” for homebuyers may have some deferred maintenance to deal with.

Over the years I have dealt with 1960’s homes in Santa Ana, Orange, Lakewood, Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Brea, North Tustin, and a few other cities. Here are some things that my clients have had to deal with upon buying their homes built in this era:

1) Asbestos and air ducts.

Prior to 1980, air duct insulation was made of materials containing asbestos, which is now known to potentially cause certain allergies, cancer, and other health issues. If left undisturbed, it typically is not a major issue. Tamper with this insulation, and you may have a health problem stemming from the attic and air ducts of your house. If asbestos is suspected to be present, test samples, remediation, and full or partial air duct repair or replacement may be necessary. This can cost a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars, depending on the severity.

2) Plumbing.

Galvanized pipes may be present throughout much of the house instead of copper or PEX pipes, which will not corrode like galvanized pipes. This can compromise the plumbing throughout your home and make it more likely to have leaks in the future. Sewer lines can also be too old and causing sewage backups, foul smells, and slower water flow.

3) Termites.

A house with wood frames, fascia boards, siding, and posts means termites are inevitable over time. Your 1960’s house is probably no exception. Keep in mind that fumigating a home alone does not make the structure safer if dry rot has already affected wood structures. Wood replacement may be the best way to repair dry rotted areas, but it’s also more expensive than wood fillers and spray treatments.

4) Foundation issues.

Many homes built during the 1960’s were built on raised foundations. Therefore, there may be supporting posts under the house that may be weak and need repair or replacement. Homes built on concrete slabs may have cracks or leaks that occur simply given the age of the house and normal shifting of the ground over time. Regardless of foundation type, a home of this age may be experiencing such issues.

5) Roof issues.

Chances are, a previous owner may have had to replace the original roof during the 1980’s or even 1990’s. If that was the case, that new roof from back then may be approaching the end if its life expectancy now and need replacement in the near future.

6) Windows.

Windows nowadays are made with vinyl frames and very energy-efficient panes, usually dual panes. In the 1960’s, you may find wood window frames and more delicate single pane glass. Some original windows may even have been painted shut by a previous occupant. Replacing these old windows may become an expensive project if you want to do all of them, costing thousands of dollars.

7) Lead based paint.

Interior paint manufactured prior to 1978 may contain lead, which is now known to potentially cause health problems, including cancer, especially when ingested or airborne. Extra care should be taken whenever taking down walls and scraping these older painted surfaces. Removal or tampering of such painted walls should be done in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

8) Water heater locations.

Some 1960’s homes were built with the water heater located in a closet in the hallway. Nowadays such units are installed in the garage or a closet on the exterior of the house. If you come across a home with the water heater located indoors, you may want to consider having it moved to the garage or outside. That means some structural changes that can add up in cost.

9) Furnaces.

Some furnaces can last for 20-25 years, or even longer. If the original furnace managed to last for even 30 years, then your house may be due a new furnace in the near future.  This may be something to bundle with repair or installation of new air ducts, as noted in item #1 above.

10) Electrical.

A 1960’s house was not built to handle the electricity demands that we have today. You’ll often find that a previous homeowner changed the wall outlets to accommodate three-pronged plugs, but that doesn’t mean that the electrical panel can handle more power demands of such devices and appliances today. You may find that you need to re-wire the whole house.  Again, another potentially large cost depending on how much more amps you need.

If you decide to make any structural upgrades, make sure you are aware of your city’s building code and guidelines for doing so. Some cities require an inspection upon selling your house. In case you decide to sell your house someday, it would be best to pull all the proper permits for making such structural changes to avoid penalty fees from the city later on.

While this can all be very daunting to tackle with a 1960’s house, remember that you may not have to fix everything at once. Pace yourself, hire the appropriate professionals to address any work you need or want to do, and enjoy the larger space!

For more information about buying, selling, or leasing a home built in the 1960’s, feel free to contact me.

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