When looking to buy or rent a new home it's vital to ensure that it is safe for you and your family to occupy. While building and pest reports are standard practice when buying, and major defects are usually obvious, some safety hazards can be a little more sneaky. That's why it's important to always do your own due diligence. To help make this easier for you, we're going over some red flags to be on the lookout for at your next inspection.
12 safety hazards to look out for when buying (or renting) a new home
Mould isn't necessarily something that the seller or landlord will know about if they're not looking for it. This little growth, however, can cause big problems, especially if it's black mould. Often found in wet or damp areas, especially if they're dark or poorly ventilated, mould can cause respiratory issues and other health concerns, so be sure to check for it before committing to a new home. Bathrooms and kitchens are obvious culprits due to their often wet existence, but the laundry can be a popular hiding spot for this red flag as well. Mould can also grow anywhere that moisture has found itself in places that it shouldn't be, and in this case you should seek assistance from a plumber to ascertain what is going on.
Asbestos is generally going to be a bigger issue for those looking to buy than it is for those inspecting a rental property. This is because it's usually only a major issue if disturbed. Having said that, it is always a good idea to be aware of whether the home you'll be occupying has asbestos within it, so you can take the appropriate precautions. Homes in bad repair that contain asbestos should generally be avoided.
If the lights flicker when you turn them on or any powerpoints in the home look a little dodgy, you may be looking at electrical issues. Poor or faulty wiring can lead to broken appliances, electrical shock, fires and more, so it's best to avoid any building that is displaying these types of problems.
The exception to this is that certain types of lighting do need a chance to "warm up" and will blink a couple of times when switched on. This does tend to only be with older styles however, and you can usually tell whether it's a flicker or a blink.
You should also inspect all powerpoints in the home carefully to make sure that they're in good condition. This may seem tedious but it is worth it for the safety benefits. Plus, it's always a good idea to find out where all of your power sources are in each room so you can plan your interior design accordingly.
Having poorly lit areas in your home may not seem like a big deal if you're buying with the intention of renovating. If you're looking to rent, however, or don't want to change the property once you move in, it's certainly a safety issue to be aware of. Not being able to see where you're going clearly can lead to all kinds of injuries, so you'll need to add some lamps or other types of additional lighting at the very least.
A lack of smoke alarms
Both common sense and legislation say that all homes must be fitted with working smoke alarms. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case in reality. While this issue is fairly easy to fix by simply installing them yourself, you need to be aware of the problem in order to fix it. Tenants may also need to ask permission to install smoke alarms given that they're a modification to the property, and although this cannot be denied, it is an extra expense to keep in mind.
Slippery floor tiles
Even the most sure-footed person can find themselves having a fall if the flooring within the home is not non-slip. While this is a more significant issue for those who will have children or elderly individuals in the home, it can be a problem for anyone.
If buying we recommend renovating at your earliest convenience to fix this issue and tenants should avoid homes where the floors could be a safety hazard.
Loose floorboards or carpet
Speaking of flooring posing a safety issue, another potential issue to look for is any loose floorboards or rippled carpet. These defects can be trip hazards at best, and signs of deeper issues with the home at worst, so if you see them anywhere, be sure to dig deeper. We also recommend that tenants avoid rental properties with these issues unless the landlord has committed to fixing the problem before you move in. This is due to both the immediate risks and the potential for underlying problems that could cause health or safety issues in the long run.
Glass sliding doors
While not inherently an issue in and of themselves, glass sliding doors can pose a safety risk. This is because it's often hard to tell whether they're open or closed, and if the home is older, the glass may not be shatterproof. We suggest adding safety stickers at eye level to all glass sliding doors within the home, and updating older ones if buying the property.
If the front porch or balcony is made from timber, there's a higher possibility that it could present a safety issue. This is because wood naturally breaks down over time, and you don't want to discover that yours has by falling through. Check to see whether any areas feel spongy underfoot, and inspect joins carefully to make sure everything is in good condition.
While a pool can be a great addition to a home - especially in Summer - it also poses a safety risk if not properly configured. All pools must legally be appropriately fenced, and it is important to ensure that there is nothing that little ones can climb on close to the fence.
What to do if you spot a red flag
If you spot one or more red flags when inspecting a home that you're considering buying or renting, you need to consider whether they're something you can either fix or live with. If not, it's best to look elsewhere. While some of the red flags on this list can be easily rectified, some pose serious issues, especially if you're renting and therefore unable to modify the property. Safety should always come first, so it's important to put your family's health and wellbeing over your love for the property, no matter how great it is.