What makes a home kid-friendly?

Date: 08 June 2018

‘child-friendly’ is often used in real estate ads, but what does this catch-all phrase actually mean? We’ve created this Top 20 checklist for you: so if you’re house-hunting for a family home, you won’t miss anything. Good luck! 
1. School zones: Until you have kids, it’s not something you think about - but in NZ, most schools have a ‘school zone’ policy:  a geographical area from which they will accept student enrolments. It’s definitely worth considering when you’re on the house hunting journey, and a word to the wise: unless you know this property will only be a short term thing, it’s worth looking well into the future. Your child may by a toddler when you’re purchasing and as impossible as it seems, before you know it, you’ll have a teenager needing college options too.  You can search any address in NZ on QV.co.nz and find the school zone information for that property - you’ll find it on the ‘local insights’ tab. 
2. Street dynamics: Walk the street. How many other family homes can you spot? Is the street fairly safe for kids to bike/scooter or is it a high traffic area? Ideally, a safe street within which your kids can create meaningful connections in is what you’re after. 
3. Eyesight line: The ultimate is a house with a fully fenced, flat backyard with full visibility from indoors, so that you can safely give older children a bit of freedom. Obviously younger ones need you there at all times, but for the older ones - can you easily see/hear what’s going on in the backyard? Are the kids safely ‘contained’ on the property? 
4. Driveway safety: What’s the driveway like? Is it fenced off from the rest of the property? Good visibility? 
5. Room for a playroom? This is the real gold-ticket item. A dedicated room means their treasured items (clutter) don’t take over the rest of the home as easily plus if mess get really out of control, you can just shut the door and peace is restored.  
6. Convenience: How far to the nearest supermarket/dairy? Any parks nearby? Swimming pools? Library? 
7. Kitchen: if you’ve got very young children, is it easy to install a ‘child-gate’ into the kitchen access point? 
8. Fire? Does the home have a freestanding or inbuilt gas/wood/electric fire? Does it have a purpose built fireguard?
Recommendation is for kids to be a metre from the fire.
9. Electrical situation: Plenty of power sockets in each room or will you be in the situation of needing to use multi-boxes? If so, they don’t overload them. Always use safety-covers on open power sockets.
10. Bedroom situation: With kids - it’s all about flexibility, warmth and storage.  Depending on the number of kids in your family you may at some point want to do a shared room/bunk situation. Is the ceiling stud high enough? Is the room big enough? Decent storage for clothing/toys? Is it fully insulated? Signs of water damage on window sills from extreme condensation? 
11. Home tech: NZ has high asthma rates. Is there an in-home ventilation system? Ducted heating? Dimmers on lights for better night-time routines? 
12. Insulation: Do yourself a favour and avoid mid-winter trips to the after-hours doctors due to unnecessary winter chest infections and colds from a cold home. NZ is renowned for poor warmth in our housing stock.  What’s the insulation? Is it floor and roof or fully insulated? 
13. Heating: Central heating? Heat pump? Ducted heating? No heating?
14. Bathroom situation: bath-time part of your kid’s sleep routine? You’ll be surprised by how many homes only have showers. A separate toilet is always a great idea for family sanity if you have image obsessed tweens/teens wanting serious mirror time. 
15. Safety: 60% of all injuries to under-fives happen in their home. A full home safe guide can be downloaded from www.safekids.govt.nz but a high-level list to look for is things like: 
a. Blind cord fittings: are they fixed in place to prevent strangulation? 
b. Temperature of the hot water? Does it feel too hot? How easy it is to change? (hot water temperature should be 50° Celsius at the tap).
c. Are there options for high (out of children’s reach) storage in the kitchen/laundry for items like medicines/cleaning products. 
d. Is there a garage door? Does it have an emergency stop? 
e. Are there latches on exterior doors? 
f. Door stops/latches on interior doors to prevent slammed fingers? 
g. Window stays on windows within children’s reach? 
16. Is there a pool? If so, it must fenced at a 1.2m in height with a self-latching gate. For more information visit www.watersafety.org.nz 
17. Is that trampoline a bonus? Sometimes, people leave their trampolines behind as ‘bonus’ for the new family moving in (mainly because of the hassle in dismantling and moving it). Trampolines justify their own list of safety items to check, but things to be aware of include the mat and spring quality, safety pads, whether it’s got a 2metre ‘clear zone’ from any fences/walls/trees/clothesline, whether the leg braces are locked etc
18. Decks: Make sure the balustrades are tall enough and no tempting foot rungs to climb. Are there steps of the deck? Are they steep? Handrail installed?
19. Any glass doors? Look for safety glass markings. Where there are no markings, assume it is not safety glass. The recommendation for child safety with glazing is to put stickers on glass doors where they can be seen.
20. Fire safety: the recommendation is for working smoke alarms to be installed into every room, living area, and hallway - on every level in the house. Photoelectric smoke alarms are recommended. 

Tags: Homeowner, Kid-Friendly