By Charles MacGregor

A new property is an exciting chapter in anyone’s life, less exciting is the laundry list of responsibilities that need addressing when purchasing a new home. Many home buyers overlook the pieces of the homebuying puzzle that are less obvious, be sure to ask these 10 questions when buying a new home.

Although a newly tiled bathroom and a kitchen covered in granite are admirable features in a home, don’t let these shiny things distract you. Buyers need to look beyond the cosmetic features when considering property and instead consider their wellbeing. In many home buying nightmares, the biggest issues are the ones that linger just out of sight.

Toxic Threats:

It’s important to be aware of potential toxic sources in your living space. Being proactive and informed about what carcinogens may be in your prospective property can help you reduce and eliminate future harm. If you suspect a property has a dangerous toxin present, identifying the problem and developing a reduction strategies may improve your long-term health, including the ability to stay in that home. Ignoring the possible presence of carcinogens can become life-threatening and lead to a series of unexpected health challenges.

Below are three common toxins that could negatively impact your wellbeing if unknowingly exposed:

  1. Radon:


Radon is a radioactive gas and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Radon is not a commercially produced product, but rather one that is completely natural. This gas will seep into water sources and through cracks in a home’s foundation, exposing families to dangerous health threats without any warning signs.

Testing for radon is the only sure way to know your home’s radon levels and threat to your health. Since exposure to radon has no immediate symptoms, it will typically take several years of exposure before any health problems are noticed. The US EPA estimates, one in every five homes has elevated levels of radon; elevated radon levels have been discovered in every U.S. state.

  1. Asbestos:

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with unsurpassed resistance to fire and electricity. Asbestos fibers are microscopic in nature making them harmful when inhaled. From 1930 through 1970 asbestos became a common ingredient in many building materials. Since then, asbestos has been proven to cause mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that develops in the linings of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

In recent decades, the use of asbestos products has diminished, although many of these dated construction materials and consumer goods still exist across the planet. Therefore exposure to asbestos can mistakenly occur and with no initial symptoms. If you happen to be renovating or moving into a home built before 1980, it is important to be mindful of this material and if/when found take the proper precaution during removal. If you happen to come across asbestos during a casual D.I.Y. project, stop working and contact a professional for proper identification and removal.

  1. Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas mainly found in fumes. Vehicles, generators, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, pellet stoves, gas ranges, and furnaces all emit carbon monoxide. Poor ventilation can cause this toxic gas to build up indoors, slowly poisoning people or pets who unknowingly breathe it in over an extended duration of time. 

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning install a battery-operated detector in your home and replace the battery each year. Upgrade this detector every five years to ensure it is properly functioning. A homes primary source of heating is often the main culprit of carbon monoxide leaks. When moving into a new home be sure to have the furnace and fireplaces thoroughly inspected. Repeat regular maintenance and professional inspection once a year to prevent unknown dangers from developing.

 Structural Dangers: 

  1. Electrical:

Electrical issues can be one of the most frightening problems, and the hardest to identify. Since most, if not all electrical wiring exists behind closed walls, you’ll never feel completely certain of the mishappenings hidden beneath. When looking for electrical problems in a potential home, some signs are more apparent than others. During a viewing, be on the lookout for a lingering burnt odor and possibly dark discoloration across outlet covers. Less obvious, but an equally effective self-test includes trying all the switches and outlets in a home, if a variety of electrical features do not work across various rooms in a property, there is usually is a larger electrical concern. If you find that electrical conditions in your home are out of date, contact a licensed electrician to properly examine the extent of the issue.

  1. Foundation

If you’re concerned about foundation damage, contact a foundation repair contractor to have your property inspected. When looking at homes there are a few warning signs that will point you to possible foundation issues. Obviously, fractures and cracks, both internally and externally, are signs of foundation wear but do not always point to severe damage to the home. Doors that stick or won’t close, gaps between finishes and fixtures (cabinets, windows, exterior doors), and sagging or uneven floors are the lesser noticed signals that point to needed foundation repair. 

  1. Framework:

The only concrete way to know what’s entirely wrong with a home is to hire a skilled contractor who’s familiar with structural damages and repairing them. When you’re still shopping the housing market there are some obvious warning signs to watch for. You may be able to check for rotten, crumbling or bug-infestation through a dropped-ceiling panel or other openings across the property. If the decay to the framework is widespread, this can become a costly and serious repair. Another way to identify a damaged frame is  checking for exterior shifting. Examining the roofline from a distance can be a telltale sign of shifting. Look for an uneven roof line, drooping towards the ends, or a dip in the middle.

Before signing a purchasing contract for any home — especially a home that gives you pause — consider hiring an architect, a contractor, or a home inspector. A professional who is skilled in structural design can identify issues the average homebuyer may easily overlook. If the purchasing offer is time sensitive you can always ask your real estate agent to write up the agreement subject to the forthcoming inspection. For more insightful advice and inspiration, stay informed and continue reading RealTips.