Home Buying in 55408>Question Details

Kelly, Both Buyer and Seller in MPLS

I got a home inspection and am ready to close, the only thing is I don't think a Radon score was ever checked.

Asked by Kelly, MPLS Thu Apr 17, 2008

Is this a problem?

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The simple answer is that radon levels can be markedly different from block to block or even house to house. Samples taken just 10 meters apart varied from 250 pCi/l to 86,000 pCi/l! The long term testing is more accurate but doesn't fit the needs of a real estate transaction, so a short term (48 hours minimum) is often conducted to get a representative level. The 48 hour test can be inaccurate by as much as much as 50-90% depending on the method of teting (charcoal canisters are the worst - 90% inaccurate, and aplha testers are next poorest at only 50% accuracy.)

Mitigation can vary in cost depending on the complexity of the job and the price of contractors in your area. Here near Philly, easy jobs can be $800 and complex ones up to $2000.

Incidnetally, while it is universally accepted that high levels of radon are bd and potnetially linked to lung cancer, there is VERY much debate about exactly what constitites a "high" level. The EPA based their nubmer on a study which used "guesswork" (their word) to compose about 50% of the results the study is based on!

Here is an enlightening sight about radon truth and myth (its very techy and geeky, but VERY enlightening)!! http://www.forensic-applications.com/radon/radon.html

The link to lung cancer is fairly strong, but the levels of the miners tested was 80pCi/l, or about 20 times the level the EPA recommended action level now. So, at what level of exposure does it become concerning? No one knows.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 26, 2008
Kelly, there are definitely different camps on radon. I would have the home tested as soon as you reasonably can, and based on results, decide what course of action you'd like to take. As stated below, midigation isn't terribly costly, but I wouldn't even worry about that, till you have test results in-hand. Do some research and decide how you feel about it. The camp that isn't all that concerned about it, seems to feel it's been around forever and not until the past 10 years or so has it even been a topic of conversation.

Thanks, Todd Norsted
Web Reference: http://www.toddnorsted.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 27, 2008
Kelly,
Have the house tested for radon at your expense after closing and if the results are high look into mitigation. This is not something to just ignore. Most buyers do not test for radon but they should. if your inspection period has passed it's too late to ask the seller to make any additional repairs.
Michael Doyle Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 26, 2008
Ask to have a test done so you can know if you need to do something after close. If it is a problem, it is not expensive in most cases to have a mitigation system put in. We have several companies that we recommend to our clients that seem to do a good job. Most buyers do not have a radon test done in Minnesota unless they are relocation buyers but it never hurts to know.
Web Reference: http://www.JoeNiece.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 19, 2008
Interesting thoughts, Mary. I think this is another issue on which approaches varies regionally.

Here in PA, about 25-33% of my clients opt for the radon test. About 5-10% of the homes inspect already have active mitigation systems in place.

It is fairly common here for buyers to do short term testing, and expect the seller to install a mitigation system, much as they do with other inspections where based on results, accomodations are requested of the seller. This provides the buyer the opportunity to have a mitigation system installed at someone else's expense if there is a high level. I'm not sure how it go over to have that specifally disclaimed by the seller (I know that as a buyer I would be put off by it).

Typically, if unusual conditions exist during the test preiod, re-testing can be agreed to using a Continous Radon Monitor (CRM), which has an accuracy of 100% for the test period and samples hourly, giving an indicator of peaks, variations (day vs. night, for example), and other concerns that are impacting a test. If both parties agree, it can be left in place as long as desired, offering an accurate portrait of the conditions at every hour during a short term test. This typically ends most debates about wheather conditions, open doors and windows, and other issues that might impact a test.

You are correct that only a long term test can show seasonal variations and other such differences, but a CRM test even over only a few days can often pretty accurately identify a baseline level that all parties feel comfortable using.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 29, 2008
My general position on radon is that every home owner shoud do a long term test in their home of up to a year's time and only then, determine if mitigation is warranted. There are tons of things that can throw off the results in a short term radon test such as the amount of wind, the moisture levels in the surrounding soil, the opening and closing of doors in the property, just to name a few. To try and get an accurate reading in the 2 or 3 days typically provided in the inspection contingency of a purchase agreement is just about impossible. You'll get a reading for the radon level for those 2-3 days, which may or may not be representative of the radon levels in the home year round. I don't think anyone should take comfort in or place confidence in a short term radon test. Buy the house of your dreams, test it in the first year of home ownership, and if you find the radon levels are high, then call a mitigation contractor, typically only a few hundred dollars for most homes. If the radon levels are low, congratulations -- you've saved yourself a headache. For sellers, my advice is to let a buyer test if they want to, but condition permission up front by writing into the contract that you will not mitigate based on the results of a short term test. Radon testing should not be part of a real estate sales contract in my view.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 29, 2008
We are in 55408 and tested our radon. The most accurate and economical test takes one year, and it matters how you live (how often you leave windows open, how warm you set your thermostat, and other behavioral and environmental conditions). So this is something you pretty much need to take on as a risk of, um, living in a place on earth.

But radon is definitely a bad actor, and must be mitigated. Luckily, that doesn't cost too much. And even though we have a big hole directly to the earth in our basement and our house drafts like a chimney, we had insignificant levels in radon. I would guess that 55408 would all be pretty similar geologically, am I wrong?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 25, 2008
The effects of Radon are different depending on who you talk to or what you read. In my opinion I would not worry about it. In either case you can have it tested after you move in because if you are out of your inspection timeline you are not able to cancel the purchase agreement for that reason.
Web Reference: http://www.lennyfrolov.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 18, 2008
Kelly,
In your offer to purchase did you have a contingency that you would be able to test for radon?
If not, you could ask your agent if you could still have a test run, but - if you are outside your inspection contingency timeframe - even if the radon level is over 4 pC/L you probably would not have an option to back out of the transaction, or ask the Seller to install the system.
It is not uncommon to have a radon mitigation system installed, and once that is in place the home will most likely maintaing a radon level of less than 4 pC/l . The cost of installing a radon mitigation system is usually around $800-$1,000.
You probably should talk with your agent as to what is specified in your offer. I'm sure he/she can advise you properly.
Enjoy your new home
Web Reference: http://www.GoPackerUp.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
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