All You Cannot See
Architecture is more than inhabited art. Evaluating a home engages all of our senses, from touch and sound to the chemical senses, particularly smell. Our nose plays a key role in associative memory making smell a powerful tool for recall and reminiscing. Hoteliers and shop owners frequently employ signature scents to induce positive associations just as real estate agents have taken to baking cookies and pies for open houses. Fragrance gardens have historically complimented grand estates throughout the world with the gentle hints of jasmine, plumeria, mint, and rose. Similarly, touch affects our perception of space. Even without actually touching walls, floors, and counters, curves and smooth surfaces can prove particularly inviting. Architects often consider the repetition and continuity of materials. Sound is frequently a subconscious factor. The trickle of a fountain, chirp of birds, or rustle of leaves can be surprisingly effective in elevating our mood and attracting us to a home.
Before we let our very visceral reactions to musty carpet and popcorn ceilings deter us from a property with potential, stop and think about how our senses shape our perception. If you can't quite put your finger on why you do or do not like a particular house, consider whether it might be something negligible like a buzzing light fixture or a litter box, or something that deserves more attention like the distant traffic noise or wood rot.
Bloomberg, Scent Branding 101
Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Welcome to Your World
Before purchasing a home, understand the health affect of the move. Look for signs of mold, pest infestations, and lead contamination, especially if there are children in the household. Understand what steps can and must be taken to mitigate any potential allergens. When considering even minor cosmetic renovations, there may be an opportunity to switch to Low VOC paint and adhesives and source recycled and sustainable materials. Preference for dark, quiet bedrooms might lead you to north and west facing exposures while a preference for morning sun might lead you to east facing bedrooms. Outside of the home itself, proximity to work and school and commute type (walking vs subway vs driving) can substantially impact your health. Fire, flood, and earthquake zones can have a major financial impact in terms of insurance and actual damage.
Green + Healthy Homes Initiative