Environmental Issues for Home Buyers

Home buyers typically focus on those aspects of a home that are important to them. Location is paramount, such as convenience to work, favorite church, recreation sites nearby or public transportation. The next focus is the physical aspects of the home, such as exterior appearance, size of the yard, floor plan, number of bedrooms and baths, layout of kitchen and baths, to name a few. Often overlooked during the initial search for that new home are the environmental conditions you will be exposed to while living and sleeping in the new home.

A recent Alban client undergoing chemotherapy was concerned with the well water quality. Another client had a home under contract and learned the wife of the sellers was suffering from lung cancer and raised the issue of radon with our inspector. With all of the news the last ten years about childhood poison by lead-based paint, an occasional client buying a house built before 1978 asked about lead-based paint inspections. These are the exceptions. Here is a brief summary of the five most significant environmental issues home buyers should be aware of.

RADON

A recent Alban client undergoing chemotherapy was concerned with the well water quality. Another client had a home under contract and learned the wife of the sellers was suffering from lung cancer and raised the issue of radon with our inspector. With all of the news the last ten years about childhood poison by lead-based paint, an occasional client buying a house built before 1978 asked about lead-based paint inspections. These are the exceptions. Here is a brief summary of the five most significant environmental issues home buyers should be aware of.

Exposure to mold can also cause homeowners significant difficulties. A 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study found mold could cause home dwellers significant breathing problems. Mold can also exacerbate asthma symptoms and lead to ongoing respiratory illnesses in children.  As part of a home inspection, an experienced professional can conduct mold testing to identify mold occurrences and potential problem spots where water may infiltrate a building. They can also inform homeowners about cheap and efficient solutions, such as cleaning using a bleach compound. Homeowners can prevent future mold occurrences by keeping the humidity in their homes low and by ventilating their homes as much as possible.

LEAD-BASED PAINT

Many houses before 1978 contain lead paint. In Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment ninety-five percent of houses built before 1978 contain lead-based paint. The most common locations for the use of leaded paint were exterior doors and trim, interior doors and trim, kitchens and bathrooms, any areas impacted by weather, exposure to water or hard use. Lead cannot be seen or smelt. Despite this, it can create a range of serious health issues if left untreated in the home including lethargy, frequent headaches, delayed mental and physical developments, and abdominal pain. Lead paint is most hazardous when it is deteriorating, such as chipping, flaking or chalking. It can also be dangerous when maintenance or remodeling causes lead dust or debris to surface.

SEPTIC SYSTEMS

Because septic systems are contained underground, most homeowners are unaware of problems with their systems until they fail. The cost of replacing a septic system can be as much as $15,000, and failure of a septic system can disrupt the daily operations of a household.
As part of a home inspection, an experienced professional can conduct mold testing to identify mold occurrences and potential problem spots where water may infiltrate a building. They can also inform homeowners about cheap and efficient solutions, such as cleaning using a bleach compound. Homeowners can prevent future mold occurrences by keeping the humidity in their homes low and by ventilating their homes as much as possible.
A home inspector can also complete a non-invasive analysis of a struggling septic system to identify potential problem areas. They can also provide suggestions to the homeowner to maintain the quality of their system, such as regularly pumping the septic tank.

WELL WATER

Home buyers whose properties are served by well water need to test that the water purity is satisfactory and healthy. In addition, home buyers are typically required to have water quality testing as a condition to mortgage approval. Alban inspectors are accredited to collect water in all local States. All laboratories utilized by Alban are nationally accredited.