Depending on the year a house was built, there are specific issues that could affect its quality, integrity or safety. Among the main potential or actual sources of concern, here are five:
Asbestos. Buildings built between 1920 and 1990 are mainly affected. They may contain asbestos in insulation (vermiculite), ceiling and floor tiles, asphalt shingles and plaster.
Lead. Lead may be found in toxic concentrations in the paint of pre-1990 buildings and in the drinking water plumbing of homes built before 1972.
Pyrite. Found in some granular backfill under concrete slabs, this mineral can cause significant damage if conditions are right to cause the dreaded chemical reaction of sulphation. In Quebec, the phenomenon is particularly widespread in the Montérégie region, but it can be found in several other regions around the St. Lawrence Valley. It affects mostly houses built during the 1980’s but can also be found in constructions before 1970 or after 1998.
Aluminum electrical wiring. Houses built between 1965 and 1976 could contain it. Although safe in itself, the risk of fire is mainly related to an installation that was not done according to standards. It is therefore always recommended to have the electrical installation checked by a master electrician to determine if it is safe or if it needs to be corrected.
Poly-B piping. Approximately 225,000 homes in Quebec were built with this material between 1980 and 1995. The deterioration of polybutylene pipes by chlorine has been significant in the United States, while cases are rare in Canada, given the much lower concentration of chlorine in drinking water than in the United States.
So take the time to ask your real estate broker or home inspector if the property you are considering buying is at risk because of the year it was built, or even its location.