Looking at possible purchase of a home built in 1968 that we would definitely remode in a major way. Should we have it checked for asbestos, first?

Asked by lighthouse.nurse@yahoo.com, Danville, VA Sun Apr 14, 2013

How much does it cost to do this? Would checking for asbestos be included in a home inspection prior to purchase? How would we know what purchase price to offer, to offset the removal of asbestos if it is found?

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Caleb Hart, Renter, Orem, UT
Tue May 19, 2015
I think it's a good idea to check every house for asbestos. Nobody wants to live in a house that could have something harmful in the dark spaces. I have kids in my home, and the last thing I want is to have a substance like that lurking in the shadows. Their health is extremely important to me. http://www.rockymountaininspection.ca/asbestos_testing.html
1 vote
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Apr 14, 2013
Hi lighthouse.nurse,

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 I’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.

For more info see:

1 vote
Arpad Racz, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Sep 22, 2015

Some buyers will have a testing company check it out just for peace of mind.

Kind regards,

0 votes
89jackmoore, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Mon Sep 21, 2015
If you're looking at remodeling, and this includes new siding, asbestos won't really be a problem. It isn't a danger unless you touch it, so if you install new siding over it you should be fine. But, if I were you, I'd shop around a little at what an inspection is going to cost, and see if you think it's worth it. It can't hurt to know, so you may want to look into it. http://www.cleanairservicesinc.com/asbestos_abatement.html
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Apr 16, 2013
No. You assume it has asbestos and lead-based paint, and that is is priced comparable to similar houses of the same era. It is not a 1995 house, it is a 1968 house. If you want a house without asbestos and lead-based paint, then look at houses built after 1991.

All the best,
0 votes
Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Tue Apr 16, 2013
Steve Orenellas provided a great response here. I will add that if you get this house and abate the asbestos that, while not quantifiable, there is strong market value is such a move. The peace of mind that buyers will receive by removing these hazards real and perceived pays dividends.

Good Luck!
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sun Apr 14, 2013
Do you have reason to believe there is asbestos present in the home?

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.

Good luck,

0 votes
Allison Fish…, Agent, Ann Arbor, MI
Sun Apr 14, 2013
This is not generally included in a standard home inspection. Your Realtor should be able to help you understand the risks and how to assess them if they have a lot of experience in the specific area/neighborhood you are looking in.

Disposing of asbestos is complicated and there are many restrictions.

Good luck!
0 votes
JoAnn Wheeler, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Sun Apr 14, 2013

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.

0 votes
Suzanne Look…, Agent, Lafayette, CA
Sun Apr 14, 2013
Hi Lighthouse,

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.

0 votes
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