When buying a fixer upper, it is key to hire a reputed and professional home inspector. You don't have to hire the first person your real estate agent suggests. It's best to do your homework when choosing a home inspector and even better to follow them around during the inspection so you have a good idea of your home's repair needs. Some of the things these inspectors will check are more time-sensitive in reference to health safety and should be checked right away before working in or around the home. Here is a list of five safety risks you should put at the top of your home inspection checklist:
1. MOULD: Black mould can grow in a home's organic material (ie. carpet, drywall, and insulation) that has had prolonged exposure to moisture. Breathing black mould spores can cause headaches, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, and other unpleasant symptoms—and that's just with temporary exposure. Removing black mould safely on your own is an extensive process, so you may want to opt for hiring a professional.
2. ASBESTOS: In addition to popcorn ceilings, asbestos can be found in vinyl tiles, insulation, boilers, piping, and really any building material that is not metal, glass, or wood. Because the carcinogenic fibers in asbestos are microscopic, it's best to get suspicious material tested before disturbing the asbestos and releasing it into the air. The safety risks for asbestos are high, so hiring an asbestos testing professional and remover is your best bet.
4. LEAD-BASED PAINT: Homes built before 1960 are more likely to contain lead-based paint in the home's interior. This kind of paint becomes a risk when it is disturbed or starts flaking off. Ingesting or breathing the dust of lead-based paint can cause damage to the brain and nervous system. It is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women. Hiring a contractor who is certified in lead-based paint removal may be the best option as removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the risk of lead poisoning.
5: METH: A lesser-known risk, methamphetamine residue is a real concern and growing problem. Meth labs can be created anywhere, so don't judge the innocence or your home by its appearance. Exposure to meth-contaminated homes brings a variety of health hazards—you don't want to mess with it. DIY meth test kits are available online for a small price or you can hire a local professional. It's a good idea to get your home tested before purchasing it, as decontamination jobs can be pricey.
6. RADON: Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that can enter the home in a variety of ways, including through foundation cracks and well water. To check for radon, you can purchase a home test kit online or call a professional. Lowering radon levels in your home is a technical business and requires special skills. Again here, it is best to call in the pros. In this case, a qualified radon mitigation contractor.