If you're a dreamer, an HGTV'er, a DIY'er, or you rock a popping Pinterest board, chances are you have thought about owning an older character home, possible one that needs work, where you can roll up your sleeves and dive deep into a transformative renovation on a  charming old space.

What to Do When You are Searching for an Older Home in Calgary?

older construction homes in Calgary

First off, if you're looking for an older home in Calgary, you're going to begin your search through homes for sale located in the inner city of Calgary. Many of these original homes have architectural influences from before the 1900's' through the 20' 30's 40's and throughout the 60's, 70's, etc. In the inner city community of Sunnyside you can find homes built before 1910! Moving a bit further out you can find homes built in the 1930's in Crescent Heights, or homes built in the 1950's in Capitol Hill.  As you continue to head north you'll see similar incremental changes as the city began to grow and sprawl. Your best bet to get started is by deciding what your budget is, what your goal is, and what influences / builds you desire the most. The older a home gets, the more you'll have to hurdle various build standards that came throughout our residential development history, from older wiring and plumbing, to the use of products that can be deadly (asbestos). 

Looking to buy or sell a home in Calgary? Give the Real Estate Partners a call at 587.578.7653 We are one of the top real estate teams in Calgary!

Why would you want to buy an older property?

There is a lot of beauty and character that usually comes with an older property, one of the biggest factors though is typically location. In Calgary, inner city communities like Elbow Park offer some of the most serene and enchanting mature tree lined streets, this quiet but popular community features an eclectic mix of older character homes and newly built infills, just minutes from downtown, bordering the Elbow River, and having access to some of Calgary's best amenities, it's no surprise that this community carries an average list price of well over $1,000,000 for detached homes and continues to be highly sought after. 

 With older homes, you'll have the opportunity to preserve history and potentially create a renovated space that highlights some of those timeless features including herringbone patterned hardwood, vintage built ins, original crown molding, exposed brick and so much more. 

Older homes will also typically sit on larger lots, as the city continues to grow and expand, lot sizes continue to get smaller and smaller, many new communities feature zero lot line builds where homes are built right up and onto the lot line leaving limited space on the sides, and often compact front and backyards. Often smaller lots in established and older communities are now seen due to subdivision and the increase of infill builds, where you typically see two homes (attached/detached) built on one lot. 

Elbow Park homes in Calgary

Here's a collection of Inner City communities located in Calgary, you can begin browsing homes here and once you're ready to start looking, reach out to our team for a more in depth strategic consultation so we can thoroughly understand your real estate goals and help you achieve your dreams. We also have many relationships with infill builders in Calgary, if you're looking to live in an established community but are looking for an infill home to take advantage of the technology and layout of infills, read our blog on Calgary's best Infill REALTOR® Dusko Sremac 

Before you start searching for an older character home, there are a few things you should consider, whether you’re looking to renovate, or are looking for one that’s move in ready, there are plenty of red flags, and things you should consider prior to deciding if an older home is right for you. 

There are are few  major things you should inspect and decide if they need to be replace, repaired, or removed. 

Replace old windows

Often open for debate, original windows provide a charm that is hard to beat, both on the inside and on the outside. Older windows though with broken seals or cracks don't necessarily need to be replaced, there are options for repair and to have them resealed. 

Redesign or open up the Interior

Are the existing walls load bearing, is there opportunity for opening up certain spaces?

Ability to add storage? 

Something that wasn't as popular back in the day was adequate storage solutions. Creative renovators can often take advantage of various spaces or rooms to create more storage. For example, an older home with three or four bedrooms up could potentially be converted to one less room, utilizing the other room (beside the master) for an ensuite or walk in closet. 


Older homes can contain wiring that is simply not safe, from old knob and tube wiring, to screw in fuses and old breaker panels, or aluminum wiring can all be enclosed within a home, it's important to understand the wiring throughout and what you'll need to be able to upgrade, renovate/ remodel and what could potentially be behind walls as you begin to open up the home. 


Many older homes often have older HVAC systems, from your hot water tanks to furnaces, these expensive big ticket items should be looked into and considered as part of a flip or purchase.

Foundation Issues

Quite simply foundation issues are a risk with any home, with older homes, over time the ground can shift and settle, and there is risk of the home sinking or not being level, which can cause issues including drywall cracks, drains not draining properly or cabinets that aren't level. 


The most obvious and common thought with plumbing is to inspect what type of lines (drain and supply) are seen throughout the home, some homes with new copper lines could have this quickly checked off the list for prospective buyers, however, one overlooked issue is the drainage systems. Old pipes that go from the house to the city can be damaged, caved in, or have roots running through them causing back up issues. 

The list of items to look out for is pretty thorough and is exactly why you should work with an experienced REALTOR® and team in Calgary who knows and understands the many nuances ofRenovation Calgary purchasing an older home in Calgary and surrounding areas.  Other items we'll discuss are insurance costs, older homes are subject to much higher premiums, and can be sometimes be limited to specific insurers if there are bigger risks, for example some companies will refuse to insure a home with a really old hot water tank as they pose a great risk of failing and causing extensive damage. 

Energy efficiency issues including higher bills, insects and pests, lead paint, water quality, water pressure, roofing, previously done renovations where corners are cut, jammed doors, asbestos which can be found all over older homes, including in the drywall, insulation, popcorn ceilings, are all examples of systems and risks that come with purchasing an older home in an established community.

Watch our professionally shot and edited video of this luxury infill home in Bowness that helped get this home sold FAST.

Are you looking to sell your inner city home? Interview the Real Estate Partners team at RE/MAX FIRST. We are an experienced and highly skilled team of Calgary real estate agents who take pride in continuous education and tracking of the inner city real estate market. From Infills to original homes, we provide a whole host of services for our inner city home sellers, from expert negotiations, to industry leading impact partners, off market property programs (pocket listings), and visual marketing that goes above and beyond. We understand the ins and outs of the real estate market in Calgary, and we guarantee that we'll take care of all your real estate needs.

Posted by Cody Tritter on
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