If you’re building a new home from the ground up, what considerations should impact design as it relates to air quality?
Building a new home? Exciting! There are countless decisions to make about the home’s layout, architectural features and design details. Don’t forget to add your home’s air quality to the list of important considerations. By making some smart choices, you can dramatically boost the quality of your home’s air—and take big steps for your family’s well-being.
As soon as possible in the building process, make sure your building team (architect, contractor, interior designer) knows that you’re placing a premium on creating good indoor air quality. Ask them to vet new products and techniques that enhance air quality. Along the way, take a close look at your building budget. Some air-quality boosting products can cost more—so make sure you have a general understanding of these increased costs, and factor those added expenses into your budget to avoid any unpleasant monetary surprises.
Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste, comes from the soil. But worry not, it can be mitigated in new homes when your builder pays attention to radon resistance through four steps, according to the Environmental Protection Agency: installing a layer of clean gravel or aggregate beneath the flooring system; laying polyethylene sheeting on top of the gravel layer; including a gas-tight venting pipe from the gravel level through the building to the roof; and sealing and caulking the foundation thoroughly.*
When making interior selections for your home, keep indoor air contaminants top of mind. For example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that homeowners use solid wood products for floors, cabinetry and wall surfaces.** Thinking about installing carpet? Ask about brands that release fewer VOC emissions. The American Lung Association recommends homeowners request their new carpet to be aired out in a clean, dry area for at least 72 hours before installation.*** And if you’re installing carpet in a basement, make sure an effective moisture barrier is installed between the concrete and the carpet.
Wetness doesn’t just harm your home, it fosters mold and bacteria growth that can harm your respiratory health. So whenever you uncover signs of moisture—peeling paint, condensation, discolored spots, dripping water or mold—don’t just deal with the damage, find the root cause and correct it.
Note: the EPA advises that if a mold problem takes up more than 3 ft. x 3 ft., you should hire a professional to remove it**.
Talk to your contractor about your HVAC system options, and consider adding a whole-home air filtration unit to your overall system. The EPA recommends air cleaners that remove particles, such a high-efficiency mechanical filter, and says to avoid using air cleaners that work by generating ozone, which can increase the pollution in your home.**** Once your system is installed, use only the highest-quality air filters and replace them regularly to make sure your home’s air quality stays in peak condition throughout the many years you’re enjoying your home.