Kiddie Concerns When Buying A House

When searching for a new home, take along a list of kiddie concerns to be sure it will prove safe for your children.

When searching for a new home, be sure to keep in mind your concerns for the children and toddlers of your family. The safety issues can vary widely, so it may be helpful to take along a checklist of considerations so you won't forget what to check or ask about.

1. Fences, gates, and borders. Does the property and home have adequate boundaries to protect small children? For example, in two-story dwellings, is there a stairway gate to keep toddlers from climbing up or down? Is the door to the basement locked or barred in some fashion? Is the property fenced in so the kids can play in the yard? Do steps have side rails to hold on to? Look at the feasibility of adding needed barriers if they do not automatically come with the property.

2. Landscape and location issues. Are there any holes in the ground that a child might fall into? Is there standing or running water, such as a pond or stream, in which a little one might drown? Does the property have steep hills, steep ravines, or briar shrubs that might prove potentially harmful to kids? Does the property sit close to the road? Is it in a safe neighborhood? (You can check whether sexual predators live in your area by visiting the online site for your county.)

3. House structure. Is the house solid, with a strong roof, attached doors, secure windows, and firm floors? Do the windows have screens, especially those above the first floor? Is the basement dry or is it damp and moldy? Are there steep steps that a toddler might tumble down? Do you find any slippery or greasy floors, or uneven places, where a child might trip and fall? Do you see any nails or tacks that are sticking out or any rough wood finishing that might cause splinters?

4. Appliances and fixtures. Does everything work as it should? Does the toilet flush or might one back up and overflow to create a slipping hazard? Are the bathtubs and sink drains working properly? Does the electric wiring appear to be in order and fairly well concealed? Are there outlet covers to keep out little fingers? Are there any old appliances sitting in the garage or basement into which a frisky child might crawl and get locked in?

5. Miscellaneous. Are there stored or spilled chemicals? Does the furnace work properly without your worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire? Is the building up to code? Does the fireplace operate as it should? Are there any crawlspaces or tight corners to trap a little one? Is there adequate play and storage area so the kids don't have to get underfoot and possibly cause problems by getting hurt or breaking something valuable?

Concerns like these help to identify potential problems before they become real problems for families with kids. Go through any home you would like to buy at least twice, and preferably take a building instructor with you one of those times for an expert opinion. Since you will probably live in the house for a few years at least, make sure it is safe for the entire family.

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