Thinking Or Purchasing An Older Home? Perform These Checks First

Have you always dreamed of purchasing an older home? Perhaps you enjoy the idea of a fixer-upper, or maybe you just love the appeal of architectural uniqueness and history. Either way, owning an older home can offer many joys for years to come. However, if this is your first purchase of an older home, you should consider performing checks for various substances before you sign any dotted lines.

Benefits of a Designated Substance Survey

The purchase of an older home likely means you will need to perform renovations to various rooms, such as the kitchen or bathrooms. Before you take on the task of renovating your historic home, you should invest in a designated substance survey. The survey entails hiring a professional to detect the presence of possible harmful substances, such as asbestos, benzene, and lead. There is a list of substances often included in the survey, but asbestos, benzene, and lead are often most common in older homes.

Dealing with Asbestos

Just because a home contains harmful substances, including asbestos, does not mean it is a deal-breaker. However, the knowledge of what substances are present allows you to determine more thoughtfully how you wish to approach renovations. Asbestos was once commonly found in building materials, such as insulation. If the home you intend to buy was built before 1980, it may very well contain materials with asbestos in them.

If you happen to disturb materials containing asbestos, the asbestos fibers can enter the area. If you happen to breathe in the fibers, the asbestos can get caught in your lungs, where it will likely remain. As time goes by, the fibers in your lungs can cause scar tissue, which can affect your ability to breathe normally. In fact, people exposed to asbestos can develop mesothelioma, a rare cancer that can cause serious respiratory issues.

If a survey detects the presence of asbestos in your home, contact a professional to help you with your renovations. Provide the survey paperwork to the professional so he or she knows there is a hazardous material present. Experts will know how to approach your renovation plans without putting anyone in harm's way despite the presence of asbestos, thus allowing you to enjoy your newly purchased and updated historic home.

Dealing with Benzene

A designated substance survey may also be a great way to detect the presence of benzene in an older home. Benzene is a type of hydrocarbon used in various applications. For instance, it is often found in chemical products such as gasoline, insecticides, and detergents. However, it was once a popular solvent for paint and adhesives. The paint or wallpaper in the older home of your dreams may very well contain benzene.

Since benzene is carcinogenic, exposure to benzene could potentially result in cancer. Long-term exposure could eventually lead to myeloid leukemia. Keep in mind that cigarette smoke also contains benzene, so if someone smoked in the home previously, you may be exposed to benzene through cigarette smoke residue. Fortunately, professional cleaning and removal of paint and wallpaper containing benzene can make your dream home perfectly safe.

Dealing with Lead

Finally, another common hazardous substance found in older homes is lead. Prior to 1978, lead-based paints were often used in homes throughout the United States. That is not to say that lead-based paint is an issue or a safety hazard as is. Instead, it is the deterioration of the paint that becomes a problem. Deteriorating paint is what exposes you to lead, and children are particularly vulnerable.

Young children, particularly those under the age of 6, tend to put things in their mouths. Should I child ingest lead-based paint or objects contaminated by lead dust, it can have serious consequences. Lead exposure or lead poisoning can cause issues with:

  • Developmental delays
  • Reduced learning capacities
  • Increased irritability
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of hearing
  • Seizures
  • Pica (eating non-food items)

Address the presence of lead in an older home you plan to purchase before you pay any money. Have someone inspect the home and give you an estimate on repair and renovation costs. From there, you can decide if the home you wish to purchase is still within your budget or not.

Contact an expert near you to find out what other substances might be present in an older home you plan to purchase. A professional can provide you with a list and explain each one to you so you have a better idea of what decisions you need to make.

For more information, contact a company that offers designated substance surveys.