What to Look for When House Hunting

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Moving generally is a ache, however discovering a home that’s protected and wholesome to name dwelling may be even trickier. There’s extra to discovering the very best home than the variety of bedrooms and kitchen measurement. Just like toxins in personal care products, toxins can conceal in houses. Here are the inquiries to ask earlier than shopping for or constructing a brand new dwelling to ensure it’s a protected choice for your loved ones!

How to Find the Best House

Let’s be clear about one thing first… there is no such thing as a such factor as an ideal home. There are so many components to contemplate when transferring. There’s the neighborhood, college district (if you happen to don’t homeschool), sq. footage, and many others. We’ll by no means discover the right home, however we will give attention to what issues most for us.

Personally, having a house that’s freed from as many well being hazards as attainable is vital to me. This consists of toxins like mould, lead, formaldehyde, and (most) EMF publicity. Read on to see what to be careful for, why to keep away from it, and workarounds to repair it if wanted.

EMF Waves

This is an enormous one to unpack since there are such a lot of sources of radiation publicity in our fashionable world. You could also be stunned to listen to I don’t attempt to keep away from this one altogether. That mentioned, EMF exposure might trigger points like insomnia, anxiousness, and childhood leukemia. Some of the most important sources of dangerous EMF waves embody:

  • excessive voltage energy strains
  • avenue energy strains
  • WiFi units within the dwelling
  • cellular phone towers, particularly 5G

Big energy strains emit radiation that may attain about 656-984 toes away, or rather less than a quarter-mile. Street energy strains have a radiation vary of about 82 toes. While avenue energy strains usually pose much less danger, homes near transformers are at a better danger.

You can use a meter like this one or this meter to check the EMF waves in several rooms of the home. The finest method is to show off all of the electronics and lights when testing. Some EMF waves can come from home equipment and lightbulbs which may intervene with the meter studying.

Practical Solutions to Avoid EMFs

With the ever-increasing unfold of know-how it’s tougher to keep away from outdoors EMF waves. And except we reside utterly off-grid, we’re going to be considerably near energy strains. However, listed here are some sensible ideas for avoiding EMFs in the case of dwelling shopping for. Avoid a house that’s:

  • inside ¼ mile of excessive voltage energy strains
  • near a cellular phone tower or a 5G antenna
  • near avenue energy strains, particularly poles with transformers.

If that’s not fully attainable, there are nonetheless methods to keep away from EMF publicity within the dwelling. You may even discover non-toxic, EMF-blocking paint for indoor partitions. These are on the expensive aspect however generally is a good choice for many who want them. Painting the bed room space (the place we spend a 3rd of our time!) at the very least is an effective begin.

Mold and Mycotoxins within the Home

That musty basement odor is greater than disagreeable. Mold, and the mycotoxins they launch, may be detrimental to human well being. Even if there’s no clear mould, water injury in buildings can conceal within the partitions, flooring, or ceiling. Formerly water-damaged houses that weren’t correctly remediated can even trigger points.

Both new and older houses might have previous or present water injury, although the older the house the upper the danger. Here are some things to be careful for when in search of a mold-free dwelling.

  • Test for mold and moisture. It’s not so simple as shopping for a check from the native ironmongery shop. Not each check will detect each sort of mould.
  • Be positive the muse is stable with out cracks, leaks, or moisture seeping in from the surface.
  • Avoid houses which are in a valley or downhill. When it rains the water will journey downhill to the muse.
  • Check the basement and/or crawlspace for indicators of water injury and moisture.
  • Check for roof leaks and broken gutters. These trigger rainwater to gather on the basis as a substitute of taking it away from the home.

There’s a lot misinformation about mold’s health effects. Many dwelling inspectors aren’t knowledgeable easy methods to correctly check for it. And many remediation firms don’t take the very best precautions when eradicating it. Here are some stable mold remediation guidelines and mold testing guidelines if you happen to’re ever in that state of affairs.

Bad Neighbors

Mold within the house is dangerous sufficient, however we additionally want to concentrate to who (and what) surrounds the property. Is the house near a big manufacturing facility or windmill farm? Are there smelly CAFOs or a landfill close by? Is it by a polluted physique of water or an outdated poisonous waste dump?

Chemical runoff from standard farm fields and golf programs is one other critical situation. These seep into groundwater and journey into the encircling soil. In sure areas, there are numerous farm chemical sprays floating round within the air three seasons out of the 12 months. One option to discover out is to enter the property tackle into a web-based map, zoom out, and see what’s there.

There are a plethora of poisons on the market and we will’t keep away from all of them. If your dream home is a bit too shut for consolation to land with numerous chemical substances, there are answers.

  • Try to choose a property that’s not downhill from an space that makes use of numerous pesticides.
  • Encourage subsequent door neighbors to embrace the dandelions and never spray vegetation. It’s good for bees and butterflies too!
  • If you’re involved concerning the soil within the yard, use vertical garden beds and/or containers as a substitute of planting instantly within the soil.

Now that we’ve lined the neighbors, let’s look a bit nearer inside the home. Lead, asbestos, and formaldehyde are a few of the commonest family toxins. We can discover these toxins in paint, flooring, wallpaper, furnishings, and cupboards to call just a few.


While asbestos is now not utilized in dwelling building, it’s nonetheless current in some older homes. This is one thing an excellent dwelling inspector ought to be capable of discover. Common sources of family asbestos embody:

  • pipe and furnace insulation
  • insulation within the partitions
  • drywall
  • paint
  • siding
  • flooring
  • popcorn ceilings put in from the Nineteen Fifties to the Seventies
  • vermiculite attic insulation

It’s vital to remediate asbestos earlier than transferring in. Many sellers will repair the issue earlier than placing the house in the marketplace. At the very least it should be legally disclosed to the customer.


We all know lead is dangerous, however what does it actually do within the physique? The CDC outlines the risks of lead publicity. This heavy metallic can:

  • injury the mind and nervous system
  • memory loss
  • gradual development and growth
  • contribute to studying and conduct issues
  • have an effect on listening to
  • trigger speech issues

The excellent news is even mainstream sources are on board with decreasing lead publicity.

According to the CDC, lead is most frequently present in houses constructed earlier than 1978. Here are sources of result in look out for:

  • Old metallic water pipes
  • Stained glass work
  • Old paint, particularly if its chipping and peeling
  • Homes close to airports: the aviation gasoline contaminates the air and soil with lead
  • Drinking water
  • Outside soil (that is vital if you happen to backyard)

Lead isn’t simply in older houses although. Newer constructing supplies, like flooring and repurposed constructing supplies can comprise lead. Here’s easy methods to keep away from lead in a house:

  • Remediate and repaint something that has outdated paint on it
  • Check pipes for sources of lead and different toxin exposures
  • Test the water and use a water filter
  • Check lead ranges in any soil earlier than gardening in it. Container gardens are an excellent choice for these with poor soil.
  • Avoid utilizing repurposed constructing supplies, like pallets or outdated barn wooden.
  • Choose lead-free flooring options


Many constructing supplies and furnishings have hidden formaldehyde. This chemical can set off respiration issues for asthmatics and people delicate to it. Even at 1 half per billion (ppb) individuals can react to formaldehyde, particularly these with depressed immune techniques.

LEED protected constructing requirements cap formaldehyde publicity ranges at 17 ppb (components per billion). Yet, the common lounge carpet emits 400-600 ppb. This doesn’t even embody the chemical substances launched by the glue holding the carpet down.

Some merchandise might not technically have formaldehyde in them however are formaldehyde releasers. Some manufacturers market wooden glue, flooring adhesives, and different building supplies as non-toxic. Yet as they dry they launch hundreds of ppb into the air.

The Green Design Center is my go-to for choices that keep away from or remediate formaldehyde and off gassing.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Many “inexperienced” constructing supplies are low VOC or VOC free. While this may occasionally sound like a safer choice that isn’t at all times the case. Simply peeling an orange releases VOCs into the air from the important oils within the peel.

Eco-friendly merchandise could also be protected for the setting, however not essentially for people. According to green building expert Andrew Pace, VOCs are:

A carbon primarily based molecule that’s readily vaporized at room temperature that would evaporate off the floor, journey to the higher ambiance, react with nitrogen and UV to create smog. That’s the precise EPA definition of it. Nowhere in that definition that does say something about human well being.

Look for one thing free of poisons recognized to hurt people, as a substitute of merely VOC free.

Here are some extra toxins to be careful for in constructing supplies:

  • Phthalates are suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins are in many various supplies. You’ll discover them in carpet backing, wall coverings, and furnishings material. Learn more in this post.
  • Chemical flame retardants (PBDEs)  are largely present in insulation and cushions, even most mattresses. The largest supply of publicity consists of contaminated home mud. Animal research have linked PBDEs with liver, thyroid, developmental, reproductive, and neural toxicity.
  • Repurposed Old Building Materials. Old barn wooden and pallet wooden might look attractive, but it surely isn’t at all times the best choice. Some chemical substances might have off-gassed by the point you get to them. It’s unattainable to know although what toxins they’ve been uncovered to over time. Mold, asbestos, and lead contaminate numerous outdated constructing supplies.

Healthy Flooring Options

Young kids, particularly infants, are at a better danger from toxins in flooring. Babies are nearer to the ground, crawling on it, placing issues of their mouths, and have extra delicate respiratory techniques. All of this may create an enormous situation in the case of toxins within the dwelling.

  • Tile is mostly a protected choice, however the glaze on it may well comprise lead. An simple repair is to get a lead swab check and check the tile earlier than investing in an entire flooring’s value. Cork flooring, pure linoleum, hardwood, and bamboo are different protected arduous flooring choices.
  • Formaldehyde-free flooring might not comprise sure varieties of formaldehyde, however can comprise others. Plywood beneath the ground can comprise formaldehyde that off-gasses for dozens of years. If you’ll be able to’t take away poisonous plywood flooring, a non-toxic sealant helps with off-gassing.
  • Safer carpet choices embody wool, though this doesn’t work for individuals with wool allergy symptoms. You can even discover non-toxic artificial fiber carpeting. Although I favor hardwoods, I exploit this pure carpet cleaner on the carpets we’ve had.

There’s rather a lot to contemplate when shopping for the very best dwelling for your loved ones, but it surely doesn’t should be overwhelming! These wholesome dwelling shopping for ideas may help you navigate the method.

What’s most vital to you when shopping for or constructing a brand new dwelling? Leave us a remark and tell us!


  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2016, Nov 23). Asbestos Exposure and Reducing Exposure. CDC.
  2. Building Green. (2021). LEED
  3. CDC. (2020, April 7). Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention: Sources of Lead. CDC.
  4. CDC. (2020, January 7). Health Effects of Lead Exposure. CDC.
  5. Century 21. (2018, February 23). Can You Sell a Home with Asbestos? 
  6. Mold Help For You. (n.d.) Mold Testing

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