Whether or not to buy a home is one of the most important decisions any of us will ever make. There are numerous considerations to take into account before making the leap - financial, of course, such as whether you can afford the monthly mortgage payments; or whether you have taken the myriad other costs involved into account, from maintenance of the property to insurance - but also considerations relating to your health.
On that subject, if you’re looking at buying a home, whether it’s your first step onto the housing ladder or you’re looking at a retirement property, here are some things to keep in mind…
Every home should be fitted with a good quality smoke alarm, and often one can be found in each room of a house. These should be regularly tested to ensure they are working as they should - at least every few months - nothing is more important. But if you suffer from serious hearing difficulties, even modern technology such as that found in Hidden Hearing aids may not alert you to a high-pitched alarm, so if this is something that worries you, you might want to look at devices such as pillow-shakers or strobe lighting systems, that work in conjunction with alarms.
Raising a family
Many couples buy their first home before settling down to start a family, in which case they need to be certain that the property is suitable, and child-safe. For instance, they might think about where the house is in relation to busy roads, or if it is in a block of flats, do windows open all the way, presenting an obvious safety hazard? If the house has steep stairs then safety gates will be essential, and of course any loose wiring and sharp edges will need to be dealt with before baby becomes a toddler.
According to the NHS, every year around 200 people are taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning, and some 40 will die. Carbon monoxide is very difficult to detect in the home until it’s too late, so any installations such as wood-burning stoves or gas ranges need to be checked before moving in. Adequate ventilation can also be vital in saving lives. Many homes also suffer from damp problems which can exacerbate allergies, and depending on when the house will built, there may be asbestos in the walls or ceilings which would need to be removed if any renovations are taking place.
If you’re elderly or disabled, have elderly or disabled relatives that may be visiting frequently or could move in with you at some point, then you will need to think about whether the house is suitable for people with mobility restrictions. Again, steep stairs can be an issue and may require the installation of a stairlift. Will safety bars need to be fitted in the bathtub, or a wheelchair ramp to get in the front door?
Much of the above will be identified by a surveyor’s report which any potential homebuyer should requisition before making a purchase. A standard Homebuyer’s Report will give a general idea of the property and flag any concerns in terms of structural stability, damp, damage to timbers, while a Full Structural Survey is more expensive but worth it if the house is old, you plan to make extensive renovations, or you have specific health concerns that may not be addressed in a homebuyers survey.
One last point to consider. Good health and employment are key to getting a mortgage from a lender, but of course serious illness or injury can affect anyone at any time. If you, or your partner if you’re buying a place together, should need to leave work due to ill-health, or lose your job, then you may struggle to keep up with your mortgage payments, potentially losing your home. It’s possible to buy a form of insurance that will offer a financial safety net, paying your mortgage for a set period in case the worst happens.