There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about “sick houses.” What are they, and how can we ensure that a house is healthy? While many inspection training programs touch on this concept, it’s worth a deep dive to understand just how dangerous an unhealthy home can be.
Medicine Net says a house that contains or gives off toxins or impurities can make you sick. But the types of substances that often make for a sick house — lead, mold, radon, asbestos — are not usually part of a standard home inspection. Because of this, a certified mold inspector certification can help you stand out against other home inspectors in your area, even in crowded markets. Radon certification courses are also a good feather to add to your cap.
However, a home must be healthy in many other ways as well in order to not pose unnecessary dangers to its occupants. Home inspectors have to hone in on other risks lurking in homes that the average buyer might overlook. With a keen eye and knowledge of potential issues, professional home inspectors can save the lives – and finances – of their clients. It’s perhaps the most important aspect of the job.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development put together a manual outlining their Healthy Homes Initiative. In it, they include a visual assessment data collection form you can use to help determine a home’s healthiness. It’s an incredibly helpful resource to use on job sites.
Among the areas to look out for are:
- Leaning gates or fences — If the property has fences or gates, make sure they are in good condition and functioning properly. If the fence is leaning and in danger of falling over or the gates do not open and close properly, they will not offer the security they are intended to provide. Fences are not just to keep intruders out; they are sometimes meant to keep pets and children in. If either escapes the safety of their yard, their lives could be in danger.
- Children’s play areas — Note if more than 50 percent of the structure is damaged or in poor condition. Look also for peeling paint. Modern paint doesn’t contain lead, but children should still not ingest paint chips of any kind. Also, note the surface under the play area. Is it just bare ground? Is there grass? Or is there shock-absorbing material like shredded tires? If it’s the latter, measure the depth and make a note if it is greater than or less than 12 inches. It’s also worth looking out for curiosities on the property. While an old shed might not look appealing to adults, kids see such structures as playhouses. Homeowners need to know that everywhere on their property is safe for their little ones!
- Water stains/water damage — Any evidence you find of water damage can mean mold is also a problem. Even if you can’t yet see it, it may be growing inside the walls, under or in the carpets. Mold can be both a toxin and an allergen, and thus potential buyers must be warned of its presence. Therefore, if you see any actual mold growing on the walls, floor, ceiling, or objects in the home, this should be noted as well. A certified mold inspector certification course will give you further insight into what to look for in homes where mold is suspected.
- Doors — When people think of home safety, they probably think of smoke detectors before they think of doors, but doors are an important factor to consider. A door that’s missing, can’t be shut properly or has a large gap between the bottom and the floor is a fire hazard. A door can buy occupants precious extra minutes to escape out a window before the room is engulfed in flames. You should also note the presence or absence of deadbolts on doors that lead to the outside. In some jurisdictions, a deadbolt that cannot be opened from the inside without a key is against the law, because it could trap occupants inside in the event of a fire.
- Windows — While windows may not seem inherently dangerous, they can pose risks when not properly maintained. Broken panes and windows painted shut can lead to real injuries and even death. Home inspection training can help you spot these kinds of problem areas and educate clients on why they’re so risky.
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors — Many states require functioning carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in order for homes to sell. A quick inspection of these tools can help protect your clients in case of an emergency.
These are just a few of the items recommended for checking in this 100-page document. Your home inspection training preps you to check the most important home systems and functions. For a full list of standard home inspection points, get our free home inspection report software.
Home inspections, at their core, are about helping people. If you’re eager to educate people about their homes, the potential for danger and any necessary improvements they’ll need to get their house up to par, ICA can help. Whether you’re looking for entry-level inspection training or are hoping to pursue healthy housing certifications through radon certification courses, ICA has the classes you need. Click here to learn why we’ve become a leader in the field and how easy it is to get started.