viola76May 17, 2010

We have a home under coontract to buy. We received our inspection report indicating the home has asbestos in the sheetrock throughout the house. From all the research done, it looks like this is not an issue so long as we don't disturb the sheetrock.

However, we're worried about having to disclose asbestos from a resale perspective in the future. Do you think people will avoid buying this property or pay a lot less for it since we'll have to disclose that it contains asbestos in the future? We are the first people to ever test it for asbestos.

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Yes, asbestos is a huge negative. You will have to disclose it and you will have a very hard time selling it. I would request a price decrease to cover complete professional removal and replacement.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:12PM
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Frankly, do you think you can get out of the contract, or as billl suggested, be reimbursed for fully removing the asbestos? I understand that asbestos is dangerous only when it's disturbed, but I think most potential buyers would just run away. Yes, you would have to disclose this condition to future potential buyers.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 9:31PM
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As I pointed out in my response to your cross-post in the Old House forum, make sure you really have it -- based on laboratory testing -- before jumping to any conclusions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 2:25AM
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Also please check and see if this is common and typical in your area ... if it is, I would assume everyone is not tearing their homes apart to replace it.

I lived in an area that had older homes, thay all had asbestos wrapped pipes. As long as it wasn't deteriorating or friable (sp?), no one did anything about it and it did not affect sales.

So please do more research in your particular area.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 12:53PM
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kudzu9 makes an excellent point. Correct testing protocols are key to a conclusive result.

Who tested for asbestos? Unless it was done by an experienced professional form a reputable environmental firm and accredited testing lab, I would not rely upon the result.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 1:18PM
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My understanding is that it is not considered asbestos containing material and require an asbestos abatement contractor to remove unless it is more than 1% asbestos.

Most initial testing for asbestos is done through polarized light method. That is more of a guesstimate and my understanding is companies are very reluctant to say asbestos is less than 1% unless they see no traces at all. Often they may say it is 2% or so. When polarized light testing shows results below 10% it is recommended that a point count be done which is much more accurate. It is common than polarized light testing may say that the results are above 1% while point count will put it under 1% and the material can be removed by a regular contractor and does not require asbestos abatement.

That assumes that you are doing remodeling or something where you want to remove it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 6:20PM
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Did you get an answer from the home inspector on whether any testing for asbestos was actually done?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 6:40PM
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we got the home tested by a professional environmental inspector. he did a lab analysis, and found 3% asbestos in the joint compound used in the walls throughout the house.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 7:28PM
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I would NOT buy a home with asbestos. What if you ever plan to update or remodel? Big $$$$ for pro abatement.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 11:31PM
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It isn't enough to know that they did a lab analysis. You need to find out what type of test was done. If it was polarized light, then it should be followed up with a more precise test.

Covingtoncat - Cost of abatement varies depending on what it is. It isn't necessarily all that cost prohibitive.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 2:15AM
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Polarized Light Microscopy is a visual examination for the presence of asbestos, and it depends on the skill of the technician to properly identify which fibers in a sample are or may be asbestos. Any quantitative result (i.e., percentage of asbestos) using PLM is strictly an estimate...the reality could be higher or lower. In some cases, PLM technicians will see fibers but can't be absolutely sure they are asbestos fibers. Only a more accurate form of testing will give you a reliable quantitative result.

EPA has a threshold for defining something as asbestos-containing, and that is 1%. It doesn't mean that levels below that are safe if the materials are disturbed, but rather reflects that once you get below 1% it's hard to be accurate and hard to regulate.

While I agree that asbestos is a concern in buildings when remodeling is done, you also need to be aware that much of the housing stock in the U.S. that is older than about 30+ years potentially contain asbestos (vinyl flooring, vinyl tile, popcorn ceilings, boiler insulation, ceiling tiles, adhesives and various kinds of construction compounds, etc.), so it's hard to avoid. You just need to keep in mind where it is or may be and make good decisions if you are remodeling. I wouldn't avoid every home that has asbestos in it somewhere, but I would take it into account and I would recognize that some future buyers will avoid buying a property with asbestos because they can't make distinctions between safe and unsafe...and they may unknowingly have it in their present home.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 2:37PM
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EPA has a threshold for defining something as asbestos-containing, and that is 1%.

I thought the threshold was anything above 1%. That is 1% and below is not considered asbestos containing material and doesn't require asbestos abatement by an abatement contractor.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 11:18PM
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Your statement is correct, and that's what I thought I communicated. I didn't mean precisely and only 1%. It's a threshold, that's all.

Also, I was simply making the point that, even though a material containing less than 1% is not regulated, it doesn't mean that all scientists would say that it is magically safe if disturbed. For example, I might not worry about something in my home that contains 50% asbestos if it is undeteriorated and undisturbed, but I might be concerned about a material with a much lower concentration if it was sanded and made airborne.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 3:02AM
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