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Home inspector just found asbestos in the house I want to buy.

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At least once a week we get a call from a home buyer who has just been informed that the home inspector just found asbestos in the house they want to buy.  I would assume since you are in the inspection phase of the process that you did want to buy this house and now you just need to get some perspective on asbestos.  It is not the end of the world and not the end of the deal.  The fact is: any house new or old may have asbestos in the building materials.  Does that mean every house has asbestos in it, no, but unless you sample every building material; you do not know for sure.  If you think asbestos is banned you need to refer to my earlier post “To test or not to test”.  So you may have asbestos in this house what now?  It can it be repaired, removed, enclosed, and in good condition left alone. 

Which option should I choose?  First, I would ask what your plans are for that space.  A common example and frequent call is about the grey/white duct tape or insulation on heating duct.  If the insulation is in good condition and is located in the basement and you wish to use that space for storage and do not plan to spend much time down there then I say; leave it alone.  If the material is in bad condition it will require removal or repair.  If you plan to change the heating system and renovate the space into a play room for the kids then I would recommend removal.                                              

 

You could encapsulate the insulation but I always say if a kid can hit it with a broom stick then get it out of there, if you do not have kids, good choice you have nothing to worry about it including college payments, just kidding.  Other materials can make for other decisions I would treat pipe insulation, floor tile, wall, and ceiling materials the same as the duct situation.  Vermiculite however is a different animal; it is loose fill material and can be disturbed with minimal activity so that makes it easier to create an exposure and brings in some real concerns about using the space for any reason.  For that reason we recommend removal of the vermiculite so that the space can be used, most of the time this is an attic and if you have a family you probably need storage space.

The cost of abatement varies based on access, location, type, and quantity so to help with perspective I am going to give you some typical costs.  Disclaimer: prices may vary based on your situation.  No two abatement projects are the same so it her it goes.  Duct insulation removal usually runs from $1,400.00 to $2,000.00, duct insulation repair is usually like $200.00 less than that.  For pipe insulation figure $250.00 to get there and $15.00 per foot for removal.  Floor tile might be $250.00 to get there plus $4.00 per square foot.  Vermiculite can be on the higher end about $4,000.00 to $8,000.00 and for really complicated attics I have seen that go north of $12,000.00.  I am sure someone will tell you that they can beat these prices, which is fine by me, I cannot promise that we will be the cheapest but I can promise you that no one in this business will care more about you and your customer experience than us. 

So finding asbestos is not the end of the world.  Be happy that someone was looking out for you, and now you know someone who can fix it! 

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Rick Kuhlman is the president and owner of HEPA Environmental Services, Inc. He has a bachelor of science from Florida Tech in Biological Oceanography, 1993. He has successfully run a full service asbestos abatement company for over 11 years. Most importantly he has helped people from all walks of life deal with their environmental problems in a safe and efficient manner and had a great time doing it.

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