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Home Renovations for a Safer and Healthier Home

Homes are meant to be a place of comfort and safety. Unfortunately, not all are made equal. Some have hazards hiding in plain sight that can harm the people living within the household.

By: Guest Contributor | Jul 2020

Girl in cozy home Girl in cozy home photo by StockSnap

Thankfully, many of these risks are easily mitigated with a mindful eye and just a few improvements. Others, however, might require some major renovations.

That said, let's take a look at what you can do for a safer and healthier home:

Repaint the walls

If you want an easy fix, start by repainting the walls. What exactly is wrong with old paint? Most likely nothing if you live in a modern residential property. But if your house was built before 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency warns that there might be lead in your walls, because lead-based paint was widely used during that period.

The EPA reported that twenty-four percent of older homes today might still have it under newer layers of paint. Exposure to lead can give rise to many health risks, such as damage to the brain and other vital organs, especially in newborns and young children. In short, lead is a toxic chemical that should be avoided at all costs.

It becomes most concerning when lead-based paint starts to chip or peel away. Instead of waiting for that to happen, start repainting the walls of an older home immediately. More specifically, you'll need an encapsulant, or a material that seals the chemical within the older layer of paint. There’s no way of knowing if your home is painted with lead-based material, therefore it’s best to repaint it for good measure.

Install adequate ventilation

The quality of the air we breathe affects our respiratory health. Indoor air pollution can lead to different symptoms, including headaches, nose and throat irritation, and fatigue. In addition, long-term exposure to air pollutants can increase the risk of respiratory illnesses and even cancer.

Given that we spend much time inside our homes, it's important to boost our indoor air quality. Opting to add more windows and doors where possible not only helps us achieve adequate ventilation, but also provides the added benefit of more natural light, which has been found to improve one's immunity, sleep, mood, and so much more. Windows and doors allow us to reap these benefits by letting more light and air into our homes.

Ventilation systems are another solution to better indoor air quality. Traditional ventilation systems involve trickle vents, while more modern ones have mechanical features. That said, it’s best to consult with professionals if you want a complete overhaul of your home's ventilation systems. The overall goal should be to make your home a more comfortable and healthy living space.

Fix the roof

Of all the parts of your home, the roof takes the most beating given its exposure to different elements like rain and snow. That’s why a home maintenance checklist by a professional would highlight how roof inspections should be done throughout the year when conducting your regular home maintenance. Check for missing or loose shingles, cracked flashing, and blocked gutters and chimneys. These only require minor repairs and can be done on your own. You can remove and replace flashing and shingles as well as unclog gutters and chimneys.

However, your inspection might reveal a major need to repair, particularly if there are any signs of moisture or leaks. Water damage may be small at first, but it can quickly weaken the surrounding structures. Soon you may find the stuff in your attic completely drenched or worse — your ceiling sagging or crashing.

Don’t wait for your roof to leak. You should contain it as soon as you notice these signs. As mentioned, damages would require major repairs and the additional cost of experts to restore or renovate your roofing system. The roof is one of the most important structures of the home, which is why it’s critical to do seasonal or monthly check-ups. It can also be costly and incredibly unsafe to wait long before you contain and address the damage.

Improve accessibility

Most home designs are not accessible to disabled or older individuals. If you’re planning on staying in the property for long, it might be a good idea to improve some of the structures now, particularly with regard to the stairways.

First, you can construct wheelchair-friendly ramps on the sidewalks as well as the porch. Look for areas in the house where ramps can also be installed, such as elevated rooms.

Other than wheelchair-friendly structures, also check if your stairways pose certain dangers. Keep in mind that older adults are prone to falls, which can be injurious or even fatal. Start with improved stairway visibility by adding yellow lines to the steps since it's the "most visually detectable" color, according to experts. You can also use spotlights or floodlights for more guidance.

As for the construction of the steps, make sure that they are uniform throughout to minimize risks of tripping or falling. If possible, install handrails to provide assistance to those passing through.

Make your home systems intelligent

Automating some of your home systems with smart technology can benefit you and your family and is a home addition that homeowners should consider. Newer security systems even come with added features, like detectors for unusual activity. If it detects signs of suspicious movement, it sends alarms straight to your phone and to authority hotlines. Other smart home security features include video-enabled doorbells and smart locks.

Malicious individuals are not the only reason you need smarter home systems. Consider installing smart smoke detectors that not only reduce the risk of fires, but also carbon monoxide poisoning. High-tech models can even pinpoint the source of a fire. This lets you address the problem before it worsens.

Lastly, consider installing water leak detectors. We’ve covered how water leaks can be potentially dangerous to a home’s residents and costly, too. But by upgrading your plumbing system with leak detection features, you can prevent these risks from taking place at all within your home.

All in all, home renovations can be costly, but the right ones are practical and worth the investment. These examples can help any homeowner feel more secure, and most importantly, able to sleep better at night.

About Allie Cooper, Contributing Author

Allie Cooper is a freelance interior designer with a passion for holistic and people-centered design. Most of her clients are couples or parents who want to create a beautiful home for their families. Aside from residential properties, Allie also works on commercial spaces such as offices and retail stores.

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