Most homes built before 1978 will contain asbestos materials in varying percentage levels both inside and outside the structure. Confirmation and percentage level of asbestos can only be assured via sample testing, which is not part of a standard property inspection; however, you will be happy to know http://www.kellco.com is local asbestos testing lab. Clients of mine drove a sample to the lab and received the results in less than 3 hours; charge was $35. Test results showed a 2% asbestos concentration. My clients decided to encapsulate (paint) the asbestos (The Federal Clean Air Act of 1970 gave the EPA authority to regulate material containing more than 1% asbestos fibers.)
While there's no law preventing an owner from removing asbestos themselves that I am aware of (the homeowner must still follow the Rules & Regulations of the Dept. of Environmental Quality for disposal) there is legal exposure of not disposing of asbestos properly. The more important consideration is your own potential asbestos exposure "doing it yourself", which Iâ€™m betting all who respond to your question, would personally feel is not worth risking exposure.
However, be aware professional removal is costly and often seen as the solution of last resort. Here's a link for finding certified professionals to remove the "popcorn" so you can obtain a quote:
While many people recognize "popcorn" ceilings may contain asbestos, and since it sounds like you may have a substantial amount of demolition, you should also know outdoors asbestos was used in roofing and siding. Indoors, it was also used in floor/ceiling tiles, putties, caulks, paints, cements, plasters, and pipe insulations.
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A structural inspection in an important piece to the buying process. Simply stated, if you are concerned about this troublesome material have you agent submit an addendum in all offers that protects you with a "kick-out" clause. This would allow you to walk away without penalty should asbestos be identified during your inspection.
Disposing of asbestos is complicated and there are many restrictions.
When you have a general home inspection they do not check for asbestos. You need to go to a company that specializes in that.
Since the market is so very tight right now it would be hard for a seller to give you a break because of it. You need to find yourself a realtor who is familiar with the area and pull comps. Then you can get a better idea of pricing.
Hope that helps.
All of those are good questions to consider when purchasing a 'fixer'. Yes, your contingency period would allow you to do all your inspections and due diligence before your deposit is at risk. There is a lab in Berkeley where you can have the asbestos tested.
I advise you align yourself with a realtor and use their expertise to guide you through the whole process. It can get complicated when you are dealing with multiple issues in a remodel. For instance, you will need to make sure your architectural plans can be executed by a licensed contractor. We have lots of referral partners for you to check with.
Your realtor will show you comps that support a price appropriate for the condition of the home. We are in a highly competitive market and the assistance of a knowlegable realtor is essential to navigate through it.
I work the area and would be happy to assist you.