Safety Issues When Buying A Home

Make a list of your most important safety issues before shopping for a new home. Ask the realtor about various hazards before signing a contract.

If you are not currently in the market for a new home, chances are you will be in the not too distant future. Most people change homes several times during their lives, so you might as well plan on getting the best and safest home for your money.

A home that is for sale may have several possible problems that you need to know about. Make a list of all safety concerns you may have and take it with you when you visit a home.

1. Structural problems. Ask about the foundation, walls, chimney, and roof. Make sure they are all sound and problem-free. You don't want the walls to crack or buckle and perhaps cave in after you are living there. Nor should the fireplace smoke or emit carbon dioxide after a fire has been built.

2. Water, air, and earth issues. Find out if there is or was a toxic waste dump located within five miles of your property. If so, you should have the well water (unless you have city water) tested for toxins. If that comes back positive, consider having your air and soil checked as well. Sometimes chemical waste can drift, float, or otherwise travel several miles to infiltrate personal property. Chemical fertilizers and other substances must be ruled out for your peace of mind.

3. Ask about internal toxicity. Lead paint, radon, and carbon monoxide can cause problems for any member of the family or even a pet. That is why you need to inquire about these problems or arrange to test for them in the home. Sometimes the home's seller will pay for these tests, or they may be willing to split the cost. Occasionally you may have to pay for them yourself, but knowing about problems, if any, will be worth it.

4. Check passageways and entries as well as windows. Doors, screens, locks, windows, crawl spaces, and other access areas should be checked for burglar-resistant capacity. You might have to change the locks or add dead bolts to make your dwelling more secure. Make sure all windows close and lock, especially second floor windows, to keep children from falling out. Examine steps, thresholds, and floorboards to repair any loose or broken areas.

5. Inquire about rodent infestation. Insect nests that are built into the walls or vents of the home are hazardous to the home's residents. Rats, mice, and other creatures can expose your children to rabies or bites. Other types of bugs or spiders carry venom and possibly germs that are potentially harmful to children. Find out what type of living things occupy the home or live near it so you can be fully prepared.

Most of us pick out homes based on convenience, comfort, and beauty. Don't forget to check for safety features that can help you save money now and possibly protect lives as well. Take along your list and check it twice before making a decision on a new home. You will be glad you brought a written list of items that can help you ensure that nothing of importance is overlooked or forgotten.

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