Buying a New House? Three Tests You NEED to Do First: Guest Post By Denise Brusveen, MS
Buying a new house can be so exciting! Maybe you’re getting that little slice of heaven in the country or a bigger house that you can spread out in or you’re moving to a more convenient location or moving for a job change. No matter what the reason, sometimes it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement once you think you’ve found your dream home, and you just HAVE to have it at all costs. Don’t let that excitement cloud your judgement though, or you could be paying for it in big ways down the road – with your health.
When buying a house, almost all lenders require an inspection, and that’s a good thing! Even if yours doesn’t, GET AN INSPECTION ANYWAY. Those inspectors can find the tiniest faults that you might laugh at for how miniscule they are. But they can also find big flaws too, which can allow you to back out of the deal or require the seller to pay to fix in order to move forward. You don’t want to figure out these problems down the road when they’ve caused your health to suffer and the entire cost to fix them falls squarely on you.
These are the tests you NEED to do before purchasing your home. Your inspector may offer a package where they’re included. But if not, get them on your own:
I see so many clients with high uranium on their HTMA. This is a sign that there is radon exposure. The top two sources of exposure are in the home through cracks in the foundation, up through the sump pump, etc. or through the drinking water. You can get radon test kits like this one for pretty cheap. If it comes back high, you’ll want to have that fixed. Typically this involves sealing all cracks in the foundation, covering the sump pump if there is one, and installing a PVC pipe either from the sump pump or a hole cut into the foundation that vents out the side or the roof of the house.
Doesn’t sound cheap does it? It’s not. In my area, the cost is around $750. So being able to require the seller to install that before moving in is ideal.
Water (if on a private well)
The water has the potential to contain heavy metals, bacteria, pesticides,and more. If anything comes back at a concerning level, then you’ll be able to ask the sellers to install an acceptable water filtration system or credit you some money so that you can put it toward installing one of your own. You’d want a whole house filter because I have worked with clients who know that they have high levels of certain heavy metals in their water and have a filter on their kitchen faucet. That’s not always enough though because you bathe and shower in that same water source. And with your skin being your body’s largest organ, you can imagine how much of that nasty stuff your skin can absorb.
If you’ve got children under two years old or are pregnant, some states offer free water testing. Even if you have to pay for it though, it’s still going to be cheaper in the long run to be proactive rather than dealing with the negative consequences to your health down the road plus paying for the cost of the filter at that time.
This is something many people assume you can see or that only affects older homes, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are MANY different types of mold and they couldn’t care less about the age of your home! Some thrive in damp environments while other types are found in perfectly dry air. Not only that, but mold can lurk in places that would be impossible to see by walking through the house. A home builder local to me recently explained that most homes are built in such a way that allows rain to seep behind the plastic wrap that is put on houses, which causes mold to grow underneath windows, between the drywall and outside of the house. One of the most common places IN the actual house is behind and/or under showers or bathtubs. There is no way to see this without ripping those things out.
So what’s the big deal if it’s not out in the open? Well, it doesn’t really matter if it’s out in the open. It can still be in your air. And about 25% of the population is genetically susceptible to mold illness. Even people who aren’t genetically susceptible can suffer health consequences. This can not only be devastating on their health, but depending on where the mold is in the house, it could be devastating financially as well if it’s in a place that’s impossible or very difficult to remediate. Some people are forced to leave their moldy home behind even. A test called an ERMI test prior to purchasing could save you not only your health but a lot of money and headaches down the road if you detect mold and can back out before it’s too late. This is one example of a great company for testing.
Putting these contingencies in your offer is a smart move to protect your wallet and your health. Spending that $500-1000 now could save you tens of thousands of dollars and your health down the road. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’ll be out $1000, and they don’t find anything wrong? The many clients I work with who have moved or are in the process of remediating their homes now due to these issues would agree that this would have been a far smaller price to pay up front.
Don’t let the excitement of the prospect of that new house get the best of you. Don’t skip these tests.