You're newly married and dreaming of starting a family but one of the first things on the agenda is to buy your own home. This is undoubtedly an exciting proposition, but there are many elements to consider before you jump in and start scouring the marketplace. If you have no experience at all here then it can be especially daunting, but you should begin by coming up with a list of items that represent your ideal home and what you would like to avoid. In particular, you will need to ensure that you don't come up against particular hazards once you've bought a property and moved in and should think about these first before you focus on creature comforts and configuration. What do you need to be aware of?
It is said in the property industry that location is the most important element when purchasing a home and while this typically refers to infrastructure, attractions and future salability, it should also refer to physical hazards.
For example, is the area in question subject to a lot of pollution, whether from industrial sources or due to excessive noise? Are you thinking about buying in any area that is prone to wildfires (on the one hand) or at risk from flooding (on the other)?
Moving from a big picture scenario to a specific set of risks, make sure that you bring in experts to identify any potential hazards on a building-by-building basis. Most people are aware of the threat of asbestos in older homes, but arsenic is another element that can sometimes be found in paint and lead may also be uncovered in "period" structures. In certain places, radon gas can be present and could possibly accumulate in buildings.
Make sure that you are happy with the condition of the building over and above the aforementioned threats. It needs to be well ventilated and you should get the indoor air quality checked, especially if you tend to suffer from allergies of any kind. Most importantly, mould and mildew should be professionally removed and their source investigated.
Traffic and Crime
Noise pollution was mentioned before, but don't underestimate any potential long-term stress that could be caused by heavy traffic in the general area and notably along any routes that you may need for a commute. Do plenty of research and refer to local newspapers to get a good feeling for the strength of the neighbourhood and whether or not it's subject to higher levels of crime.
Now On to the Good Stuff
Once you've gone through a checklist like this for each target property you can move on to the "happier" elements, so that you can narrow down your ideal property. If you are uncertain about any hazards or implications, make sure that you ask your real estate agent first.