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House-Hunting Made Simple: A Safety Checklist when Choosing a New Home

  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

So maybe you crossed your fingers and toes hard enough and that tender finally came through, or you finally got that raise after knocking on your boss’ door every day until she couldn’t take it anymore.

Either way, you are ready to move out and move up, whether it’s from a bedsitter to a one-bedroom house where you finally have a separate toilet and bathroom.

So the next question is: What should you consider when picking a new home to rent or buy? What safety features should you look out for in a potential home?

People way smarter than ourselves have said that the most difficult choices to make are often those where there are too many options to choose from. Those looking to move houses often find that the issue isn’t finding a house, but rather picking the right home.

Since we love to add value to our readers, here’s our two cents on how to select a home that will ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.

  1. Location:

The first thing to consider in terms of home safety is your house location. When looking for a home, you should do research on the prevalent crime trends in the area you intend to move to. A spike in reported crimes, for instance, could indicate a criminal gang is setting up shop there.

You should also look into which form of crime is the most prevalent. For instance, are residential properties highly targeted? And if so, is there a common thread, such as carjackings at the gate or break-ins while the occupants are away? Like we always say, an informed individual is always better placed to keep themselves safe.

Other factors to tick off your checklist have to do with proximity. How far is the house from the nearest police station? What about your nearest neighbours (if not an apartment)? Of course, every homeowner loves to maintain their privacy, but neighbours can report any incident at your home should they spot something is amiss. How far is the house from the main road? Is it easily accessible by emergency response teams should you be in distress?

  1. The Neighbourhood:

Due consideration must be given to the neighbourhood as well. If it’s a gated community, where most of society’s “middle class” generally find themselves, is it guarded round the clock? Do the guards have sufficient back-up in case of an emergency? Are there panic buttons installed in the house and is there an emergency response team on standby? How much the property management has invested in security also lets you know how much of a priority your safety is to them. Technology, such as CCTV surveillance and an intercom system, has proven very valuable in managing security within a gated community.

The amount of money that the property management firm has invested in security also lets you know how much of a priority your safety is to them. Technology, such as CCTV surveillance and an intercom system, have proven invaluable in managing security within a gated community.

An added bonus for any neighbourhood is an engaged and active residents’ association. Such platforms are vital when it comes to discussing residential safety matters. Associations also hold some sway in dealing with the police and local authorities; and don’t forget they are now recognized under the Private Security Industry Regulation Act as well, giving them some legitimacy and a direct channel to interact with the government.

  1. The House:

Finally, we get to the house itself!

You’ve seen a property you like, in an area you like, and the traffic to and from the neighbourhood isn’t too bad either. You can already see your family moving in, your kids playing in the yard, and having the boys over for some choma or a koroga outback on weekends. Don’t dare to dream just yet though!

Does the house have burglar-proofing on the doors and windows? Not just burglar-proofing mind you, the doors and windows should have double latches as well for that extra layer of protection. If it’s a multi-storey house or the ground floor apartment, the windows need extra reinforcement because they are your house’s most vulnerable point.

Fire safety should also be top of mind at this stage. There should be at least two ways in and out of the house and a safe area nearby that your family can use as an assembly point should you need to escape during a fire. The house should also be clearly marked so that emergency response crews know exactly where they are going when you’re in need of help.

The last thing you should do before you decide to make the move is to talk to the person(s) who lived in the house previously if possible. Sometimes, the previous owner can reveal details that you otherwise wouldn’t have found out until after you moved in, like a faulty lock or a door that just doesn’t lock properly. They could also give you further insight into the crime situation in the area, like if a neighbour was recently robbed and how the crime was committed.

Simply put, this conversation could be the swing vote that decides whether you move into the house or not.

Happy house-hunting and may the odds be forever in your favour.

(PICS: Courtesy)

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