Shelter is a basic human need, providing us with protection from the elements and a safe place to live. But the same structure that gives us a sense of comfort and security can also cause illness when air quality, hazardous chemicals or household pests become problems.
As ‘Healthy Homes’ are becoming a more common trend in our industry, we conducted a study, along with our partners at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, with homeowners and renters to better understand how they define, perceive and interact with healthy home products, issues and solutions.
With more than 2,400 survey responses, we found 29% of homeowners reported concerns about their current home contributing to health problems. That was even higher among renters where 35% indicated concerns about their home’s effect on health.
Age, homes with children and educations also plays a role in these worries. More owners ages 25-34 expressed concerns related to healthy housing compared to other age groups. Households with an associate degree or higher were more likely to voice worries about health risks associated with homes, and those with children under the age of 18 living at home also had increased incidence of healthy home concerns.
What Concerns Homeowners and Renters?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the top concern about a home’s effect on occupant health, mentioned by 75% of concerned households. Household pests is the next most-mentioned issue, named by 44% of those concerned, and water quality and safety of the physical structure showed up after that. Homeowners tended to bring up IAQ more often, while renters were more concerned with neighborhood safety.
Although harmful chemicals such as radon gas, formaldehyde, and those found in cleaning products can affect a household’s IAQ, few households cited this source of pollution specifically.
When asked to name indoor environmental quality issues that cause the most concern, many respondents mentioned dampness/mold/moisture, household dust, pests and water quality. Homeowners frequently brought up factors related to IAQ such as dust, pet dander and air pollution from cooking. In contrast, renters were more intensely concerned with pests.
Why Are They Concerned?
A household member’s development of physical symptoms often motivates homeowners to address a healthy home issue. Between 20% and 40% of respondents who completed or plan to complete a healthy home project mentioned physical symptoms as the reason for seeking information on healthy home remodeling.
How Are Consumers Addressing Concerns?
In terms of actions taken to decrease or eliminate health concerns in the home, DIY activities like changing air filters, installing room-darkening shades and removing mold are the most popular. Financial constraint was the most widely cited reason for not following through with a healthy home project. Other reasons include lack of time, the high cost of the job and the need for more information.
Renters face the additional challenge of property manager issues when trying to resolve environmental quality problems in the home. 38% of renters said that a certain healthy home issue had become so problematic that they either moved or considered moving.
Contact Us to learn more about our recent Healthy Home Study including perceptions from contractors, homeowners and renters.