When you’re looking into buying a new home, health isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. First, you’ll be thinking about the obvious factors: location, the home itself, and perhaps most important of all, how the move will affect your bank account! These are all perfectly valid considerations. But as you go about the process, you should also do your best to ensure that your new home will be a healthy environment for you and any family you may have making the move with you.
In all likelihood, your real estate agent will be able to tell you about any major problems. But there are a lot of small things that can happen in an older home that gradually turn it into an unhealthy environment. For instance, a home might have asbestos problems after a number of years; water damage can result in mold problems; cracks in the foundation can let in radon; and sometimes materials used by the previous homeowners, from excessive pesticides or weed repellant to lead-based paint, can contribute to a questionable atmosphere.
Fortunately, most of these are problems you can deal with as long as you make it a priority to do so. Here are a few ways to go about it.
First, you can go ahead and look into a custom built home! This is a little bit of a dramatic step that may not even have occurred to you before. But having your own home built, while expensive, is a nice way to ensure completely that everything is brand new, and as you like it. That doesn’t mean some of those same health risks can’t creep in over time, but you’ll be starting from a clean, healthy place, and it’ll be up to you to maintain that state. It’s certainly worth considering if health is a top concern for you – plus, it’s a lot of fun to get to have a say in a custom home design.
That said, if you’re buying an existing home and it has any of the problems or conditions listed above, you’ll probably want to take some steps to fix the situation. Mold is probably the most common of those problems, and fortunately it’s also one of the easier ones to deal with. It’s not necessarily cheap, but mold remediation is an accessible service that can work, and work thoroughly. This is not a job to take on by yourself, as significant quantities of mold in a home can actually be quite harmful. But you should be able to make the environment safe and ensure that the problem won’t continue.
If the home has an asbestos problem, the situation is similar. There are very legitimate health risks, but it’s also something that can be dealt with professionally. Services vary in terms of the cost and scope of repairs, and it’ll depend in large part on where the asbestos is coming from. In some cases with older home sit can come from floor tiles and roof shingles; more frequently, however, it comes from insulation, which can be replaced. You’ll likely wind up spending a decent amount of money to get the job done, but it’s necessary if, somehow, the previous homeowner managed not to have to do it first.
Cracks in a foundation are a little bit less common, but they do develop over time, and they can let in radon. It almost sounds like something that would be easily debunked, but the truth is that radon is a very real chemical, and it can seep into your home through the ground. This is why it’s important to have a strong seal in the foundation. In minor cases you can look into services specifically meant to seal out radon, but foundation repair can be more demanding as well. In some cases it’s a fairly significant reconstruction project – which is why you should always have the foundation inspected before you actually commit to a property.
That covers most of the major issues. Lead-based paint is quite rare these days unless you’re buying a very old home, and if you have a sensitivity to things like pesticides and weed killers, you need only make sure no one’s using them in the days and weeks leading up to your move in. But hopefully this has brought a few things to the forefront of your mind regarding some of the more serious health issues that can come up when people buy new houses.