Home Buying in Buffalo>Question Details

Aplaceofmyown, Home Buyer in 14216

Are seller's required to remove all Asbestos in a home before sale? If not, what type of risk does this pose for the buyer?

Asked by Aplaceofmyown, 14216 Mon Oct 26, 2009

I'm interested in a double that has asbestos in the basement. It has a very antiquated system. The home was built in 1920. I want to bid on the property, but include that they should remove all Asbestos. What are the risks? I've read a little bit. Is it safe once it is professionally removed?

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The mere presence of asbestos doesn't have to be a big deal. It depends on where it is, and if you would ever need to deal with it. I have a Victorian with asbestos-based products in various places. Some of my outside shingles have it. A small section of my roof shingles have it, some of my floor tiles have some asbestos. And lastly, some of the heating pipes have asbestos wrapping.

Provided that it's use is in an area that you will never need to do anything with to modify or construction - then it's pretty much fine. If you know that you will want to make modifications to your home that would require disturbing asbestos-wrapped heating pipes ... well THAT is really something to think about then. Because that would be expensive.

So long as you don't "disturb it", it's fine. It will not fall apart on it's own over time. The fibers will stay where they are, instead of being released into the air, where they can then be breathed in and do damage. The potential danger is mostly with stuff like the pipe-wrapping, where it looks like layers of a cloth or fiberglass sheath around heating pipes. It's a very good insulator. But that's the stuff that should not be touched or removed, except by a professional, as the fibers are more easily released into the air if it's broken, cut, ripped, torn, etc.

The asbestos that is contained within floor tiles or shingles, etc is very safe. And it is incredibly durable. We're talking so durable that you will never ever have to replace it. It will last several lifetimes, without question. Really super stuff!

The floor tiles ... well, should I want to put another floor down, the best thing to do is leave the tiles in place and put another floor right on top. That is safe. They CAN be removed but it's best to just leave them and put whatever you like right on top (carpet, wood floor, laminate, whatever).

So don't be scared of asbestos just for the sake of it. A LOT of older homes have asbestos in them. I'd submit that it's likely that MOST homes built before 1960 have some use.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 14, 2009
Oddly enough, way back when the government became concerned about the health hazards of asbestos, they wanted to mandate that all sellers of Real Estate do exactly what you are proposing your seller does. Some smart engineer calculated that it would take a landfill the size of Nebraska to take all of it and the government softened its postion, I suppose since the people in Nebraska didn't want it either. The current requirement is that sellers simply disclose the that they might have it the home was built prior to 1978 if they don't know for sure. Clearly if they know for a fact that do have it they MUST disclose. But since the average cost of removal is about $7700. the average seller will choose to ignore your request and just disclose.
Many will argue that if the asbestos is not "fryable" and it is properly incapsulated, it presents no health hazard.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 26, 2009
You can ask, but the seller is not obligated. Depending what type of financing you are going for, the lender or the underwriter may make removal a condition in the loan. Then, who will pay for it will have to be worked out. You may want to call the County Health department or the EPA but the last time I had questions, I was referred to the US Department of Labor. You may also want to go to the HUD site: http://www.hud.gov.

Everyone is going to have an opinion on it but ultimately, it will be your decision if you can live with it or not. From my understanding, asbestos becomes a problem when it is airborne. There are methods to "encapsulate" it that are effective as long as you do not touch it or move it around.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 26, 2009
The asbestos should be fine as long as it is encapsulated and not disturbed. If it has been, then you may ask them to have it removed. That said, not all sellers are going to accommodate the request because of high cost to remove through a professional. The thought is that asbestos is only an issue if it becomes airborne. So it comes down to whether you feel comfortable living in a home with asbestos.

So you know, in North Buffalo most of the old homes will probably have some asbestos in the basement on the pipes. Again it falls on the level of comfort you have with it.

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 6, 2013
Yeah, there's the wrap around the furnace, the lining in the ductwork (actually, often only at the vents), and the boards between the ducts and the joists. For the most part.

But then, there's the linoleum tile in the kitchen, and maybe the bathroom(s). Or in the basement, with the corners peeling from water vapor coming up from the concrete.

Then, there's the siding. Looks like combed cedar, but, it's cement board. Holds paint fabulously. Also has asbestos fiber in it. Dang!

Not to mention the popcorn ceilings!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
I have worked with two buyers that selected a home that had asbestos in the basement. Both times I submitted an offer to the sellers agent with a condition that the seller would remove the abestos by a professional company before the closing. The cost was reasonable for both homes and it was a none issue with both sellers.
Just because it is present does not mean that it is a health risk. If it is fraying and releasing the tiny fragments into the air that can be cause for concern. A reputable company will be able to inspect the home and suggest what steps if any would be required.
Take the time to explore the options with your agent. This could lead to a very comfortable outcome for you and the sellers. I had it on the heating system of the home I purchased and it was not a problem and still exists.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
If asbestos is a serious concern with you, avoid older houses. I think we can count on our mouse keys the number of sellers, nationwide, who are willing to remediate asbestos and/or lead-based paint hazards from their homes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 12, 2009
Asbestos once removed (by a certified hazmat company) no longer exists in the place it was taken from.

It is like having an old car hauled off. You may know it was there, but only tire prints remains. Asbestos, it was hauled off in bags by men in bulky suites who clean up every last bit of debris. If you did the job yourself, yup, some could remain and you could have breathed it in.. That is why we let the pros handle it. They know how to remove it all.

If asbestos is left alone it offers no real danger. Only when it is falling apart is it a real problem.

Having said all that, it will remain an objection to future buyers. So having it removed only makes sense.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 12, 2009
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