The Health Risks Of Buying An Old House
An older house has a certain charm about it. The traditional architecture and decor are so much more romantic than a modern house and it can feel a lot more homely. The modern minimalist style isn’t for everybody, and an older house might suit their tastes a lot better. If that sounds like you, and you’re going to go for a more dated property, you should be aware that there’s more to it than quaint designs and a few cobwebs.
These houses have been standing for a long while, hundreds of years in some cases, so they’re bound to have developed a few problems. Some of these might be easily fixed, aesthetic issues, but others could be more dangerous. Before you decide to buy an older house, make sure that you’ve had it thoroughly checked for these dangers.
This is one of the most common dangers in an older property. For a long while, people thought asbestos was a great material because they didn’t realize how dangerous it could be. It is the leading cause of a type of cancer called mesothelioma so if you’re living with it in the house, you could be in trouble. If the previous owners haven’t told you that the building contains asbestos before you move in, you could have a case for compensation. There are plenty of sites where you can find helpful information on how to find the best mesothelioma attorney. They’ll be able to tell you whether you’re owed any money and help you through the legal process. Before you agree to buy any house, make sure that it’s been thoroughly checked over for asbestos.
Lead was another material that people used without realizing the dangers. Almost every house built before 1940 is full of lead paint. Most of it is ok because it’s been painted over a few times. However, problems do occur when it starts to peel and flake off. Children and pets are at risk of ingesting it, and if it gets into the air then you are all at risk of breathing it in. If you ingest too much, you could develop lead poisoning. The exterior paint can also damage your garden if it flakes off into the soil. This increases the chance of any pets or other wildlife eating it and getting sick as well. Even though it’s sometimes harmless, it isn’t worth the risk. If it hasn’t been done already, you should have somebody come to remove it and repaint with safer paint.
Another dangerous chemical that’s often present in old homes is radon. It isn’t something that we deliberately put in there, but the damage that they’ve sustained over the years has made them more susceptible to it. Radon comes in through the foundations of a house and if they are damaged, it will easily seep in through cracks and fill the house. The older the property is, the more likely it is to have cracks in the foundations. Radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the US, after cigarette smoke, so it’s vital that you don’t expose yourself to it. It can be present in any house, but newer properties are not likely to have the foundation damage that lets it in. Having a proper building survey carried out before agreeing to put an offer in is important because if you move in, only to find out that cracked foundations are letting in large amounts of radon, you’ll have to move out and pay for an incredibly expensive repair job that will take a while.
Like radon, mold can occur in any house, but the risk is much greater in an older property. It tends to grow in damp areas, especially anywhere that there is a leak. Newer houses will be sealed a lot better than older ones so the risk of leaks and mold is much less. Older houses won’t be sealed as well and there is likely to be some damage to the seals that are there. All of this extra water and condensation that comes in is the perfect breeding ground for mold spores. In small amounts, it can cause itchy skin and eyes, skin rashes, and all sorts of other allergic reactions. But if you’re exposed to large amounts, you could develop very serious lung problems. When you’re looking at the house, look for any areas that are moldy, but also remember that they might have covered it up. You need to be aware of any leaks or damp areas that are likely to develop mold in the future otherwise you’ll find that a few months after moving in, it’ll all start to show up, at which point, it’s too late to back out of the sale.
All of these things can cause serious health problems so make sure that you’ve had the house thoroughly checked over before signing anything.
Image Credit: Victorian House