So, you’re ready to take the big plunge into home ownership. You’ve made a thorough checklist of the most important factors to review with your real estate agent:

  • Location
  • Property Size
  • Number of preferred bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Important upgrades

You think you have come up with every possible question to ask… You’ve found your dream home… the stars have aligned and a few short months later, you’re pulling the moving truck into your very own driveway. But over the course of the next few weeks, you start to notice things about your new home that you hadn’t even considered before… little things that bother you; minor inconveniences… and maybe even some big issues. The following is a list of three important factors to consider when buying a house that you might not even think of before you sign on the dotted line.

Lead

Old Victorians, fixer-uppers… they might look beautiful and sound like a fun project to take on, but in reality they could pose as a potential health risk. Any house built before 1978 may contain significant amounts of lead-based paint, both interior and exterior. Lead-based paint was banned from use in homes after 1978 due to its health risks. Federal law requires sellers to disclose any known information about houses that contain lead-based paint as well as information on its dangers. Still, so many people overlook this information; thinking it does not pose as a significant risk since they’re not ingesting the paint. However, paint that’s chipping or areas that maintain a lot of friction, such as doorways and window sills, create lead dust that you can breath in. Not to mention, pets and children can ingest the dust if they are walking or crawling on the floor or putting things in their mouths that lead dust has landed on. Of the many negative health effects lead has on humans, it most significantly affects infants and small children’s neurological development. The effects are irreversible; therefore, it is important to eliminate as much exposure to it as possible.

If you do fall in love with a house that contains lead-based paint, there are ways you can manage it. It is important to note that you should not try to remove or cover lead-based paint with other paint yourself, as you might disrupt the paint and create unhealthy dust and debris. The only way to safely and permanently eliminate lead-based paint in your home is to hire a certified professional to perform a thorough inspection, risk assessment and abatement of the lead-based paint.

To find a professional lead abatement company near you:

If you live in NY, SC, FL, AK, NM, NV, ID, MT, WY or SD, click here.

If you live in any of the other states, you can find information by clicking on your state on this map.

For more information on lead and its risks, contact the National Lead Information Center at 1 (800) 424-LEAD [5323].

Cell Phone Coverage

Aside from snapping pics of the gourmet kitchen and jacuzzi hot tub in the backyard, you’re probably not going to be making calls or sending texts with your cell phone while you’re browsing houses on the market… but you should be. While cell phone coverage has come a long way over the years, there are still many “dead zones” around the country. With so many people relying on cell phones for their work, and land lines quickly becoming a thing of the past; you don’t want to find out you’re living right in the middle of a dead zone the day you move into your new house. Be sure to test your coverage throughout the house, as well as in the yard and throughout the neighborhood, while you’re viewing the property.

If you find you have poor coverage, but are absolutely in love with the house, there is something you can do about it. Most wireless providers offer cell phone signal boosters called Wireless Extenders. Wireless Extenders pick up signals from the nearest cell phone tower and boost and transmit them to your cell phone or laptop – helping them cover a larger range or space.

Water Quality

You might not even think about the water until you get to the inspection process of buying a house. At that point, you may discover that the water requires a softening system that the previous owners did not install. You can get by without a water softening system, but the the pros of having one outweigh the cons by a long shot. Hard water not only dulls the color and quality of your laundry but is harsh on your skin.

Hard water is also responsible for leaving calcium deposits inside your showers and around your faucets. The calcium deposits not only build up around your faucets and shower heads, but inside your pipes as well. As if that weren’t enough, those calcium deposits can build up inside your household appliances like your dishwasher or washing machine.

According to the Water Quality Association, this can reduce the effectiveness of the appliance and significantly reduce its lifespan. A home water softening system would not only eliminate calcium deposits, increase the life span of your appliances and feel buttery soft on your skin while showering; but you would also use significantly less laundry and dish detergent, soap and shampoo. This is because detergents and soaps foam into soft water, creating more suds, but they run out of hard water and right down the drain before significant suds can form.

Another thing to consider is how “clean” the water is. In 2009, the EWG  found 316 chemicals in tap water throughout the United States. (To learn about the chemicals that could potentially be in your water, use the EWG’s zip code search box.)The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates up to 12 million cases of water born acute gastrointestinal illnesses a year throughout the country due to bacteria, viruses and protozoa that make their way into the water system. Add lead to the mix, and you are drinking a toxic cocktail every time you pour yourself a glass of water.

While your home inspection might include testing for hard or soft water, it most likely will not test the cleanliness of the water. But fear not, Kinetico, an eco-friendly home water systems company, will perform a free diagnostic testing on your water. If you are interested in a house, set up an appointment with Kinetico before you sign the contract. If they find the water is in need of some serious changes, perhaps you could use this as a negotiating point in bringing the price of the house down. Then, you could use the money you saved to get a complete water system from Kinetico, including a reverse osmosis filter in your kitchen to ensure your drinking water is healthy and pristine. The great thing about Kinetico water systems is that they are all non-electric and eco-friendly.
Once you’ve bought your perfect home, visit NEST for great nesting tips!

Photo credits: The Art of Making a Baby and With A Red Bird On My Shoulder

Sources:
www2.epa.gov/lead
www.kinetico.com
www.ewg.org
www.wqa.org
www.culligan.com “How Hard Water May Be Hurting Your Appliances”

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