Buying a home is one of the biggest investments in your life. There are a lot of things to pay for when getting ready to purchase a home: appraisals, surveys, inspections… the list goes on. But what about asbestos? For most real estate transactions, there is no requirement to test for asbestos. Do you really need an asbestos inspection? Don’t let asbestos ruin the projects you have in mind for your new home! Read on to learn if you need an inspection…
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THE HOME HAS ASBESTOS?
Honestly, there is a pretty good chance asbestos is contained somewhere in the home you are about to purchase, whether the home is old or brand new. Asbestos was an extremely common component of many building materials through the last century. Even though it is less likely, modern building materials still contain asbestos fibers as well.
There is no current blanket ban on the manufacture or import of asbestos-containing products.10 You can still find asbestos in products such as roofing tars, brakes, and more. That said, many of the products that carry the highest exposure have been regulated or simply discontinued use of the fiber.
You can find asbestos in many many building materials pre-dating the 1990’s. The most common suspects are vinyl flooring, pipe insulation, drywall joint compound, roofing products, and cement siding. Of course, there are many more.
While the use of asbestos declines sharply after 1990, it still shows up in newer homes. You can never rule out the possibility of asbestos in building materials.3
SHOULD I BE SCARED?
There is no reason to panic. Throughout your life you have been living, working, and playing in buildings that have asbestos materials. For the most part, the asbestos fibers have been safely locked into building components. For example, vinyl floor tiles often contain asbestos. You have probably walked across these floors on more than one occasion. The asbestos fibers, however, stay firmly encased in the tiles and present no hazard to you.
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?
When building materials that contain asbestos are disturbed, they release the fibers into the air. Asbestos presents a very real health hazard when the fibers are released into the air and breathed. In your lungs, asbestos leads to often fatal diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers don’t cause disease immediately. The affects of asbestos inhalation are usually felt many years and even decades later.
An extreme example of this was the collapse of the World Trade Center.13 Asbestos materials were pulverized, and sent as a cloud over thousands of people. First responders and recovery workers were exposed to these fibers over the months that followed, and many are now suffering the health effects.
An example that is more relevant to your question, though, is the removal of an interior wall. You want to open that living room up just a tad, so you take a hammer and crowbar to the wall, not realizing that asbestos is present in the joint compound.
The drywall demo produces asbestos containing dust that contaminates the room, and is sucked into the air conditioner. Which is then distributed all throughout your home, for family members and friends to breathe!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
This really comes down to a personal decision. If you are purchasing a home with plans to renovate or improve it, knowing if you have asbestos will help you make a better decision. You can account for the cost of an asbestos abatement in your budget, and use that information as you are negotiating the purchase price of the home. Knowledge is power after all!
If your renovation will require a permit, you will need an asbestos survey anyway, so you may as well go ahead get it out of the way.
On the other hand, if you do not plan on any renovations or improvements, you can probably move forward without worrying about asbestos.
Reasons You Should Consider An Asbestos Inspection:
- You are planning to renovate the home.
- You notice materials that are already deteriorated and/or crumbling.
- You will be more at peace knowing if asbestos is present or not.
- You would like to know if there is asbestos so you can properly manage it in place.
Reasons You May Not Need To Worry About An Asbestos Inspection:
- The home is move-in ready and no renovations are planned.
- The home was built in the last 10 years.
Armed with this information, you can make the best decision for your circumstance. If you decide that you do not need an asbestos inspection before you buy, move forward with confidence, and don’t spend extra time worrying.
If you are still asking the question at this point, an asbestos inspection is a small price to pay for a definitive answer. It will give you more information you can use to make an informed purchasing decision.
An asbestos inspection is a simple step that could save you time, headaches, and money down the road.1 Our inspection teams are committed to conducting a professional assessment of your home. Inspectors will absolutely spend time answering your questions, and help you know how to deal with any asbestos that is discovered.
WE’RE HERE WHEN YOU NEED US
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts at asbestos removal. Our accredited inspectors will help you determine the appropriate sampling plan for your project. Our goal is to move your project forward without wasting money, while keeping you safe and in compliance with all applicable regulations. Let us help you navigate asbestos inspection or abatement. Call us or click here to schedule an inspection today!