Asking the right questions when buying a home

Even through a pandemic people are buying and selling homes. When buying a home there are the standard questions that are asked – How much are they asking? How many bedrooms / baths? Square footage and so forth. But there is now a new question that is being asked on a more regular basis. What is the indoor air quality of the home? For most buyers, that is not a question that would have even crossed their minds a year ago. Designers and builders now understand that a home with good indoor air quality is not only meeting code, but has become a selling feature.

In an article by Jamie Gold that was published on the Forbes website earlier this year, she lists Indoor Air Quality as the first item for trends in residential wellness design. The COVID pandemic, quarantining, lock-downs and everything associated with it has put a lot of stress on a lot of lives. One positive we can take from all of this is a renewed awareness of how important our living environment is. As Jamie explains, a key feature is the indoor air quality of our home. So how do you know if you are buying a home with good IAQ? There are a few questions to ask as well as items to observe when viewing a potential home.

  1. Does the home have any air exchange system built into it. This can be something like an ERV or exhaust fans and some type of mechanical system to bring fresh air into the home (you can learn more about these systems in our The Air Exchange post).
  2. Does it have properly installed exhaust fans and a range hood that vents to the outside?
  3. Do you notice any moldy or musky smells when you walk through the home?
  4. Do you notice any mold or mildew build-up in the home, especially around and in the shower area?
  5. What is the highest rated filter the HVAC system can handle? This might be a hard one to answer on the spot and you might have to ask the manufacturer of the system. Hopefully they have it posted in their user manual.
  6. Is there a build up of dust in the home? While there are many things that can cause dust, including a lack of a cleaning schedule, a home that is properly exchanging air should have less build up.
  7. Is there any technology built into the home? Items such as CO2 monitors (not just detectors but sensors that monitor the air quality and will turn exhaust or air intake systems on to mitigate), automated ventilation systems with either occupancy or humidity controls, smart thermostats and so forth.

This list is a good starting point but there are plenty of other good questions to be asked. If you are building a new home ensuring the proper equipment is being installed is a must. Take the time to meet with your builder to discuss these items. A few minutes of planning up front can have a lifetime of benefit as you will be spending a very large portion of your daily life in your home. Also, just because your find something on this list in a home you are viewing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue purchasing it. Many of these items are very easily correctable. If you are looking at older homes, there is a good chance you will find most of these items are not up to where they need to be – that is to be expected. Hopefully you are now a little more aware and prepared as enter the process of buying a home. Happy house hunting.