House Hunting Questions

Feel free to copy and modify according to your own needs.

If there’s an interested and cooperative vendor or real estate agent who can speak with the vendor (or property manager, etc) to get the answers to as many of these questions as you need answered for your health, it’s easier to make better decisions about being able to function in a potential new home.

You can also use the list in other ways. Feel free to use as needed.

Possible intro:

QUESTIONS  regarding potential health issues for interested buyer /renter who suffers from severe allergies and chemical sensitivities.

We need and appreciate your complete honesty when answering these questions, realizing they may seem unusual. There are no right or wrong answers.

Your answers will help us to understand what substances and materials have been and may still be present in this environment, and if these are ones that are safe, or are present in safe amounts for the prospective buyer to be exposed to.  Sometimes trace amounts are dangerous, so we need to know the history. What may be normal and cause no problems for most of us may cause symptoms ranging from mild and irritating, to severe neurological effects, or something similar to what you might expect from someone with a peanut allergy.

We realize that no place will be perfect. The goal is to find a home that is least likely to have an impact on the existing medical condition.  We expect that some remediation or modification may need to be done before moving in to any home, and need to know to what extent this may or may not be possible here.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Homeowner Information

Name: _________________________________________________________________________

Occupation: _____________________________________________________________________


Phone Number: _____________________________  Daytime Number:______________________

Email: _____________________________________ Other _______________________________

Please answer the following to the best of your knowledge.  If you are not sure of an answer, please indicate that you “don’t know”.

1)     What is the approx. age of your home?     _____ years

2)     What direction does your house face?  Circle two, if applicable:     N     E     S     W

3)     What direction are your prevailing winds from?  Circle two, if applicable:     N     E     S     W

4)     Have you ever used  Any plug-in type  air fresheners ?    Y ___ N  ___
IF YES… thank you but we cannot proceed.

If yes to any of these, approximately how often,   where, and  how long ago did you use them last?
All these products tend to be absorbed into walls, cabinetry etc, and contain substances which cannot be easily removed.

Any other air fresheners?       Y ___ N  __    _________________________________________
Sprays like Lysol?                      Y __  N  __     _________________________________________
Scented candles?                       Y __  N  __     _________________________________________
Incense?                                     Y __  N  __     _________________________________________

5)     Do you use fabric softeners for the laundry?   Yes____ No_____

Do you recall ever having spilled fabric softener on the floor before?     Y___   N ___
If yes, where, on what kind of a surface, and approximately how long ago did this happen?

6)    Have you used WD40 or other lubricant in the home before?     Y  ___   N  ___

If yes, please specify where and when  used: _______________________________________

7)     What products do you use to clean the following areas?  When were they last used?

a) kitchen                  ___________________________________________________________________

b) bathroom             ___________________________________________________________________

c) carpets/floors             ___________________________________________________________________

d) permanent wood fixtures     ___________________________________________________________________

e) wood floors             ___________________________________________________________________

f) appliances             ___________________________________________________________________

8)     Is there anywhere else you use another cleaning product?  If so, where, and what do you use?


9)    Are any scents, cleaning or deodorizer products used in the closets/cabinets?    Y___  N ____

If yes, please indicate where and what is used: _____________________________________

10)   When was the most recent painting done and where? ________________________________

11)   Have you conducted any recent (within 10 years) renovations on this property?  Y ___   N ___

Of particular interest are any recent interior counters or cabinet installations (using particle board, MDF, or plywood), caulking or gluing, windows, flooring (vinyl, laminate, hardwood, tile…), carpet installation, roofing, plumbing or water damage repairs, or mould remediation work.

If so, please indicate what, where, and when these were done:

1.)    _________________________________________________________________________

2.)    _________________________________________________________________________

3.)    _________________________________________________________________________

4.)    _________________________________________________________________________

5.)    _________________________________________________________________________

12) Have you ever used pesticides (for insects and rodents) in the home before?     Y ___    N ___

If yes, please indicate what you used, where was it used, and when:

a) Store bought spray pesticides (such as Raid) _______________ (please name product used)

Used approx. _____ days/months/years ago in __________

b) Professional pest control spraying ___

Used approx. _____ days/months/years ago in ______________

c) Ant traps ___     d) Glue Paper ___

e) Other (please specify): ____________________________________

Used approx. _____ days/months/years ago where __________

13)    What is your water source?  __________________________________

If you have well water, how often is it checked? ___________________

Is anything required to make your well water safe to drink? __________

14)    Does this home use a septic system?     Y     N

If yes, when was the system last fully maintenanced? _________________________________

When is the system due to be maintenanced again? __________________________________

15) Please indicate any odours, however small, that you may recall sensing either in your home or outside over the past year:

a) Neighbour’s BBQ ___                       Detected inside ____  outside _____

b) Wood smoke from fireplaces ___               Detected inside ____  outside _____

c) Woodburning stoves ___                       Detected inside ____  outside _____

d) Gas fumes (or propane, or oil) ___               Detected inside ____  outside _____

e) Neighbour’s laundry line or dryer exhaust  ___                 Detected inside ____  outside _____

f) Roofing tar or asphalt ___                      Detected inside ____  outside _____

g) Garbage dump ___                        Detected inside ____  outside _____

h) Burning garbage ___                    Detected inside ____  outside _____

i) Diesel /propane exhaust fumes ___            Detected inside ____  outside _____

j) Industrial smells (if so, please specify if known): ____________________________________

16) Are there any go cart, ATV, or snowmobile trails nearby?     Y     N      Don’t know ___

If yes, approximately how far away are these trails from your residence? __________________

17)    Do you know of any planned roadwork near your home?     Y     N

18)     When was your road last resurfaced? ___________________________     Don’t know ______

19) Do you often see or hear airplanes near your residence?     Y     N

20) Approximately how far away is the nearest airport from your home? ______________________

21) Are there any industries or factories operating close to where you live?  Y    N     Don’t know___

If yes, approximately how far are they from your home?  If you can, please also specify what is produced.

a)    _________________________________________________________________________

b)    _________________________________________________________________________

c)    _________________________________________________________________________

22) Are any of the following businesses located within 1 mile of your home:

a)    Laundromats?    Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___  If yes, approx. distance from home: __________ Direction ___________

b)    Dry cleaners?    Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___  If yes, approx. distance from home: __________ Direction____________

c)    Hair salons?         Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___  If yes, approx. distance from home: __________  Direction___________

d)    Other (please provide details): _______________________________________________________________________

23) Do you know of any cell phone towers located within 2 miles of your home?

Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___

24) Do you know of any future plans to erect cell phone towers nearby?

Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___

25) Are there any high transmission power lines located within 2 miles of your home?

Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___

26) Is there a golf course located nearby?     Y     N

If yes, approximately how far and in which direction? ____________direction_____________

27) How close are the nearest rail lines to your home? __________________________________

28)  Is there a farm located nearby?     Y ____   N  ______  Several ________

If yes, approximately how far is it/are they from your home? ____________  directions _______

If you can, please specify what is farmed and in what direction :



29) Do you know of any outdoor pesticide or fertilizer use by you or your neighbours or township?

Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___

If yes, please specify where used: and products used

This residence ___
DIY ___  Hired company ___ Frequency of use: __________ Products_______________________

By neighbours ___
DIY ___  Hired company ___ Frequency of use: __________ Products ______________________

Township ___ Utilities ____ How often and where _______________________________________

30) How would you describe the traffic on your road?     Rare ___     Regular ___     Busy ____

Approximately __________ cars/hour at peak times

31) Is your driveway currently plowed by a service?     Y ___     N ___   Reccomend? ___________

How long is the driveway?  __________  How far is the house from the road? ______________

32) Do you have outdoor laundry lines?   Y ___     N ___ If no, can lines be installed?  Y ___  N___

33) Is there a Vegetable garden here?     Y ___     N ___     Flower garden?     Y ___     N ___

34) What kinds of flowering trees are located on the property?

a)    None ___                        d)  Jasmine ___

b)    Catalpa ___                    Other ______________________________

c)    Lilac ___                        Other ______________________________

35) Please indicate, to the best of your knowledge, your closest neighbours and their approximate distance from your property.  Where there are no neighbours, please indicate the type of land in the specified direction (e.g. conservation land, swamp, horse farm, etc.)

a) North: _________________________________Approx. distance from property: __________

b) East: __________________________________Approx. distance from property: __________

c) South: _________________________________Approx. distance from property: __________

d) West:__________________________________Approx. distance from property: __________

36) What type of heating system does your home have? __________________________________

37) Do you have forced air vents?     Yes ___     No _____

If yes, are they lined?     Yes ___     No _____

Have they been recently cleaned?      Yes ___     No _____

If yes, by whom? ____________________________     When? __________

Were sprays/anti-bacterials used in the cleaning process?   Yes ___    No ___  Don’t Know ___

38) Please indicate if your home contains any of the following:

a) Air exchange unit? _____________        Last serviced: __________

b) HRV _____ with VOC filters? _____        Last serviced: __________

c) Attached Humidifier? ___        Last serviced: __________

d) Central Vac? ___            Last serviced: __________

e) Water filter or conditioner? ___    Last serviced: __________

39)    If known, please indicate the material used in your plumbing pipes: ___________________

40)     Do you know of any lead in your plumbing?    Yes ___  No ___   Don’t Know ___

41)     Is the laundry room/area  enclosed?  Yes___ No___   Type of door_________________                                                                                                                                                                                                               What materials are the floors made of?________       Walls?________

42)     What material are the kitchen cabinets? _______________Bathroom cabinets ____________

43) Is high speed internet available here?     Y ___     N ___     Don’t know ___

44) Is the mail delivered to the door?     Y ___     N ___

If no, how far away do you have to travel to pick up your mail? __________________________

45)  Is there a garage?  Yes___ No____  Is it Heated? ___________________________________

Other out buildings? ___________________________________________________________

Bunkie? ____________________________________________________________________

Gazebo or covered porch or deck? _______________________________________________

46)  Is the area quiet? Yes ____ No____   Can you hear any neighbours? ____________________

What kind of sounds are regularily heard here, and are they seasonal or regular?


47) Does the house have an enclosed entryway / foyer?  Yes _____   No  _____

With an enclosed closet?    Yes _____  No_____

48) When was the roof last replaced? _________________________________________________

Is there anything else we may have missed, good or bad, that you want to add?

These, and other  questions could be added to the questionnaire also:

What materials are the bathroom cabinets/sink/counter made of?____________

Is the tub and surround plastic/acrylic or enamel and tiles________________

What materials are the floors made of – list
Living room__________
dining room______________

Is there any wood paneling?
What kind?
What is the finish on it? (paint, shellac, urethane,…)

What walls are the utility meters against? (bedroom, kitchen, etc)

Is there a smart meter, and if so, against which wall/room of the house?

Those are all our questions for now.  Thank you

Here’s a useful, but older document download of things to be aware of when house-hunting, from MCS-CanadianSources (copied in 2008, not updated). Please ignore the links at the top, they no longer exist.

MCS and pre-existing dwellings
2023 update 1 – mcs-and-dwellings

(word document with a link to the original PDF in the document)

19 responses to “House Hunting Questions

  1. Hi, I just found out about your website today. It has some great information on it! I am a little chemically sensitive but nothing to the extent of some of the people on here. My background is in real estate development and it has always scared me how many chemicals go into the average home, both in building and in maintenance. Just wondering, how is everyone with concrete homes? I always wondered if this could be a solution.

    • The concrete here had to be done without the usual chemical additives, which cause problems for people.

      The storage areas where the concrete bricks were not painted are still problematic, and in a couple of places I “wallpapered” them with sheets of mylar using double sided painters tape.

      Hempcrete is a newer material that some people are having success with. I haven’t been able to sample any myself, so don’t know how I’d do with it.

  2. Has anyone actually presented this list to a real estate agent and had a vendor return it?

    • I tried!

      Back in about 2008, I think it was, and when vendors balked, it became clear that it was because they had something to hide. They had major liability fears. I was able to discover a few details from other agents that confirmed there were undisclosed problems (like why there might have been a plug-in in the basement or elsewhere = mold).

      I did learn to avoid any place that didn’t want to answer questions!

      If you know anyone who could put together a more agent/vendor-friendly version that would be well received, let me know please!

  3. Did you find a good place to live since then and do you have any pointers? I am thinking I will end up in an apartment and have terror thoughts of bug spraying. It has been 20 years since my last apt then we could not say no. Do you know if that has changed.

  4. Old article

    Real Estate: Why scents may not make cents

    April 07,2014

    If you are seriously in the market to sell your home, increase your odds of getting top dollar and more offers by discontinuing the use of fragranced products.

    April 07,2014/ — Salem NY

    For many home sellers and real estate agents who believe the TV commercials that claim chemical sprays “sanitize” the air, plug-ins “freshen” the air and Fragrance emitting devices actually clean the air, well…this may not be music to your ears.

    The savvy, health conscious home buyer has added chemical fragrances to their list of what they don’t want to smell when they are looking to buy a home. These chemical fragrances are now listed right next to mold, cigarette smoke odor and animal urine by many home buyers.

    Home buyers today are more educated than ever. Even inexperienced first time home buyers understand that chemical fragrances do not clean the air, they contaminate it with toxic chemicals and more often than not these chemical fragrances make people very sick.

    Home buyers have kids with asthma and allergies. They, themselves, might suffer from migraines, respiratory illness, cancer or fragrance sensitivity. Home buyers know that clean should not have a smell, not of disinfectant or chemical emitted fragrances .

    So, while the location, square footage and price of your home might be perfect for your would be buyer, the smell of your home just might be the deciding factor on why an offer was not written up.

    What does your house smell like?

    Once plug in style fragrance emitting devices are used in a home, the oil / fragrance permeates the wallboard as well as flooring. Similar goes for the fragranced dryer sheets in the laundry room. These chemical odors then circulate in the air vent heating and cooling system and will never come out, no matter what you do.

    With the growing population of people suffering with fragrance sensitivity, Asthma, respiratory conditions, various cancers and allergies, house hunting can often prove to be quite a challenge.

    If you are seriously in the market to sell your home, increase your odds of getting top dollar and more offers by discontinuing the use of fragranced products. Open your windows and let the fresh air in. Clean with non-fragranced products. Your house will then be marketable to all potential buyers… even those with health issues.

    After all, you do want your home to take a buyers breath away… but not literally.

    (contact info for MCS America no longer accurate or available)

  5. (1) International prevalence of chemical sensitivity and fragrance sensitivity.

    Across four countries (United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden), 19.9% of the general population report chemical sensitivity, 7.4% report medically diagnosed MCS, and 32.2% report fragrance sensitivity (i.e., health problems from fragranced consumer products). For individuals with asthma or with autism, the prevalences are several times higher.

  6. “Prevalence of diagnosed MCS has increased over 300%, and self-reported chemical sensitivity over 200%, in the past decade. Reducing exposure to fragranced products could help reduce adverse health and societal effects.

  7. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions.


    Fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and personal care products, are a primary source of indoor air pollutants and personal exposure.

    Previous research indicates that fragranced products can trigger adverse health effects, with implications for workplaces and public places. This is the first study to examine the multiple dimensions of exposures related to fragranced products and effects in the US population.

    The study investigated the prevalence and types of fragranced product exposures, associated health effects, awareness of product emissions, and preferences for fragrance-free policies and environments. Data were collected using an online survey with a nationally representative population (n = 1136) of adults in the USA.

    Overall, 34.7 % of the population reported health problems, such as migraine headaches and respiratory difficulties, when exposed to fragranced products.

    18.6 % respiratory problems;
    16.2 % mucosal symptoms;
    15.7 % migraine headaches;
    10.6 % skin problems;
    8.0 % asthma attacks;
    7.2 % neurological problems;
    5.8 % cognitive problems;
    5.5 % gastrointestinal problems;
    4.4 % cardiovascular problems;
    4.0 % immune system problems;
    3.8 % musculoskeletal problems; and
    1.7 % other.”

    Further, 15.1 % have lost workdays or a job due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace.

    Also, 20.2 % would enter a business but then leave as quickly as possible if they smell air fresheners or some fragranced product.

    Over 50 % of the population would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free.

    While prior research found that common fragranced products, even those called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, more than two thirds of the population were not aware of this, and over 60 % would not continue to use a fragranced product if they knew it emitted such pollutants.

    Results from this study provide strong evidence that fragranced products can trigger adverse health effects in the general population.

    The study also indicates that reducing exposure to fragranced products, such as through fragrance-free policies, can provide cost-effective and relatively simple ways to reduce risks and improve air quality and health. (full text)

  8. “Beyond their immediate effects, VOCs react with other molecules in the air, such as oxygen and nitrogen oxides, to generate ozone as well as fine particulate matter. (Those nitrogen oxides come, in large part, from vehicle exhaust.) High levels of fine particulate matter make it hard to breathe and contribute to chronic lung problems (SN: 9/30/17, p. 18). And while ozone high in the atmosphere helps shield Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, at ground level, it mixes with fine particulates to form breath-choking smog.”

    ~ Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution

    • Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution

      “In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline or diesel fuel.”

      Everyday products like these emit a bouquet of volatile organic compounds that contribute to air pollution.

      Air fresheners
      Cleaning sprays
      Laundry detergent
      Disinfectant wipes
      Hand sanitizer

  9. Canadian Human Rights Commission Policy on Environmental Sensitivities

    Click to access policy_sensitivity_0.pdf

  10. Ontario Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability

    “inconvenience, morale, and preferences are not valid considerations in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship”.

    • Disability

      The Code protects people from discrimination and harassment because of past, present and perceived disabilities. “Disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.

      There are physical, mental and learning disabilities, mental disorders, hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, mental health disabilities and addictions, environmental sensitivities, and other conditions.

  11. Air fresheners and indoor built environments: why air fresheners impair rather than improve indoor air quality, and pose health risks

  12. The “MCS and pre-existing dwellings” document was updated in January 2023.

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