House Seller (Investor/Flipper) Did Not Disclose Asbestos.

GardenGuy32June 28, 2013

Thanks for all your help. We are going to consider this matter closed. You've all made a big impact and your opinions really helped guide us.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:07

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kirkhall

So, they cut through the asbestos... And, it has been running since. Do you not have any kind of filter on your system?

Did they do an asbestos test to prove it has asbestos (that is your first step, if it hasn't been done yet)?

Have you been agitating the asbestos ductwork? ie, sanding it/rubbing it/breaking pieces off?

I am not sure you have a lot of case for medical in your description so far. As far as permits not being pulled and the system not being inspected; you might be able to get somewhere with that. However, did you have an independent inspector inspect your home prior to your purchase? Was the improper installation and duct sealing noted?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 4:33PM
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liriodendron

Whoa, take a deep breath - well, outside, if you must.

Test to make sure it is asbestos.

Have a reputable outside party find out if it is comingled with your air handling system.

You may feel chest-sore and raw, but it's probably just anxiety, or something else.

The risk with airborne asbetos is usually mesothelioma (a very bad disease, it's true) but one which takes decades to show up and generally needs substantial, long-term exposure. So yes, in theory you could possibly have a health risk, but it's unlikely to be manifesting itself in such a short time.

I'm not making light of your situation, but trying to offer some perspective and some anti-worry comfort right now. You should follow up on this (and I might be tempted to shut the air conditioning system down for a bit), but no need to panic!

HTH

L.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:49PM
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artemis78

Yes, definitely a deep breath! First, cutting the old ductwork and attaching new is done from time to time, especially when installing new furnaces in old houses. So without knowing exactly what your contractor means and how the junction between old and new ducting was handled, it may be a relatively benign thing. Old ducts that are lined with it are pretty common in some parts of California (e.g., Northern California where we live) and not necessarily required to be replaced when new HVAC work is done. (That's not to say that there isn't still a big issue here with their not pulling permits or doing the work to code, but the ducts themselves may not actually be a safety issue.)

For some context, when we moved into our 1910s home, we still had the original asbestos ductwork everywhere but about 10 feet immediately coming from the furnace, where it had been cut and new ductwork from the mid-90s furnace had been attached. This was an installation that was done with permits by a well regarded local HVAC company. The ducts were not disclosed by the seller or explicitly noted in the inspection, although they were clearly visible so we knew about it. At least half of the homes we looked at still had asbestos ducts, and I don't recall seeing it in any seller disclosures (though maybe other inspectors might have called it out). Asbestos shingles were also rarely disclosed in the seller packets (though presumably a home inspection would note those). So possibly it is not something that's typically disclosed in some areas--a good question for your realtor.

We replaced our furnace recently, also with permits, and were not required to do anything to the old ductwork. However, we decided to do the abatement anyway. It turned out not to be terribly expensive ($1K or so for a small house) and only took half a day. Scarier in the abstract than it turned out to be in real life.

Assuming there are not a lot of other issues with the house and you plan to stay, I might go ahead and abate the asbestos. See if you're in an area that's participating in Energy Upgrade California programs--one of the things this rebate program covers is new air ducts, so it could help offset the cost. Then, separately, you could explore what recourse you might have against the seller or others to cover the cost of bringing things up to code and replacing the ducts given that they led you to believe the work was permitted and to code when it wasn't. You'd need to talk to your realtor and probably a real estate attorney for a better sense of what's entailed in pursuing that, though. Good luck, and try not to stress too much as you sort it out!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 2:12AM
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nosoccermom

Liriodendron is right: Asbestos exposure does not cause allergies or any immediate respiratory symptoms. Rather, it can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer, but it takes decades of exposure (Mayo Clinic site).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:47AM
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LuAnn_in_PA

"My chest has been hurting and my throat is raw non stop. "

Probably from panicking about this... not from actual asbestos exposure.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:51AM
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GardenGuy32

Thanks for all your help. We are going to consider this matter closed. You've all made a big impact and your opinions really helped guide us.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:08

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:03PM
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cmarlin20

Yes, some contractors are sloppy, also some inspection or testing companies inflate. Best to find out what all your "reports" mean.
I see you are upset, but don't get too excited about those $$$ signs yet, this may be more trouble than it is worth to you.
The RE agent and seller likely had no knowledge of what you describe, you are not going to get anything from the agent. The actual contractor may have some liability, but can he make you whole? who knows. Talk to several contractors to see what the actual problem is, and how to remedy it. This will help you decide your best action.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:07PM
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terriks

Usually the contract you sign with the home inspector limits their liability to the cost of the inspection.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 2:56PM
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GardenGuy32

This message was edited.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:09

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 1:31PM
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nosoccermom

So sorry to hear this!

Is it "disturbed" asbestos-containing material? Is it the wrapping around the ducts?
Can you find out who did the original HVAC work?

Check out the guide below, and also this guide:
www.aqmd.gov/comply/asbestos/1403FAQ.docâÂÂ

Try to find out whether a 5-step work plan is really required in your case since I'm assuming it's fewer than 100 sqft you're dealing with. An abatement company would know what written plan is required for a homeowner-occupied residence.

They also say that a homeowner can remove the asbestos himself and that some rule (1430?) is then waived.

Also, go to this site: http://www.aqmd.gov/comply/asbestos/asbestos.html
It looks to me like the fee is certainly lower than 1450.00 if a plan is required.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos Guide

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:13PM
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GardenGuy32

We have edited this message, and thanks to everyone who helped.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:10

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:53PM
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liriodendron

OK, this is stressful, but look at several things you now know:

1) There is no asbestos in your house so you and your family are fine. Financial worries are paltry compared to the possibility of asbestos-derived health problems.

2) While you may be able to short-circuit the reporting and remediation process, you need to think long term. Eventually you will sell this house and you will have to disclose this issue to all buyers. And buyers may be reluctant to buy w/o some profefssionally-credentialed remediation. Just having the seller/homeowner report they've done a good job may not cut it. Spending the 15K may mean the difference between selling and not being able to sell at all. Surely you have more than 15K invested in this property?

3) But even with the air handling system running for nearly a year your house is still clear of asbestos contamination, so I think you have time to investigate your options and choose the best one. Perhaps you can do this work in affordable stages, so you can get the benefit of professional remediation but not all at once. (Maybe there are some state grants to help pay for remediation costs?)

4) The house is not on fire! Slow down and think this through carefully. You have time to do that since the testing came back negative.

5) It's possible you could negotiate with your lender to add some of the cost of the remediation to the principal of the mortgage in a loan modification. After all, should the house become un-inhabitable and unsellable they'd wind up stuck with it if you chose to just dump it. Isn't CA a non-recourse state? Can you swing a home-equity Line of Credit?

6) I am truly sorry you have to deal with this PITA. And I think you should explore your options to get the chickens to come home to roost to the people who did this. But you'll wear yourself out unneccessarily if you don't try to put this in perspective.

7) To repeat: Apparently you and your wife and kids have not been exposed to asbestos all last winter and that = PRICELESS

Very good luck to you (you're certainly due for some improvement in that department!)

HTH
L.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 11:05PM
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GardenGuy32

NOW THAT RIGHT THERE IS THE BEST ADVICE I"VE HEARD ALL WEEK.

Thank you for taking the time to write that. It has helped immensely.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:11AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Sorry you had to go through this.

I'm in So CA too. Our first home was a flipper. We were young, and didn't notice the windows were painted shut and that the screens were gone. It had new carpet and paint and looked so much better than what we had seen. We snapped it up.

There was a leak in the new freshly tiled shower which caused mold in the walls and flooring. Somehow we found out the contractor's name who had done the work, and reported him to the State Contractor's License board. The state sent an inspector, and since all contractors have to have insurance, the repairs were covered by that insurance money. It didn't cost us a cent.

Years later, I had trouble with a pool contractor who quit mid build... Once again the State Contractor's License board got involved, but he had quit on 10 jobs mid stream, and we all had to split the money.

It's a resource you can check into.

Good luck!

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:54AM
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nosoccermom

Great advice so far, i.e. contacting the state contractor board. Also, if it's a short sale, then isn't it still the old homeowner who sold you the place and is responsible. He may be interested in cooperating with you, re. the HVAC/contractor.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:45AM
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GardenGuy32

Some of you took a lot of time to write your replies. We thank you.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:14

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:25PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Minor question. If you don't have the money to fix the stuff, how will you pay high priced attorneys?

My son (you should encourage your kids in that direction), is an attorney! I get represented for free! But, aside from that..

I'm on your side. I'm the one that said to go to the State Contractor's Licensing board.

Asbestos companies risk their lives (early death) to remove that stuff, thus the high price. You want to work for one? Doubt it. They deserve their pay, but, the State Contractor's Licensing board will come, inspect, and the insurance companies will pay, if you are calm, respectful, logical and state your case!

Trust me! I'm in sales :-))

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 4:22PM
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GardenGuy32

We got what we need here. Thanks for all of the help you guys.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:13

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 5:22PM
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GardenGuy32

We thank you for all your help on this, and we are doing our best to handle the situation.

This post was edited by GardenGuy32 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 14:11

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 5:32PM
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dekeoboe

How do you know that the work was done by an HVAC company?

And what does this mean for any of the other work the investment company had done?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:14PM
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cmarlin20

Hope you plan to live in your house a long time, after all your ranting, no one will want to touch your house.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:27PM
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ncrealestateguy

You may want to rethink going to the city/county to report that your home is full of unpermitted work... could open up a big can of worms.
The OP wrote:
"I am getting pissed off that the victim in situations like this is hung out there by everyone, and no one will help. Literally no one. Not the Gov, not the AQMD, not anyone. They all have their hand out."

If you learn one important thing from this experience, it should be that the government and it's agencies are not there to help you. They are there to reduce an individuals freedom and to maximize their control over these individuals. Your best ally is YOU and the internet.
If it were my house, I would buy a gas mask and stick a fan in the attic vent blowing out and carefully remove the stuff. People get sick from this stuff if exposed to it over years and years, not from being exposed to it for an hour during a removal. And most of the people that worked around it never do get sick.
The investor has no obligation to disclose this to any seller, because it was never their primary residence. The inspector is limited to damages of the cost of the inspection, the RE agent is not responsible to know code or how HVAC ducting should be done, and I bet the HVAC company taped the end of the cut asbestos before they inserted the duct work into the new duct.
Did YOUR real estate agent advise you to contact the county to see if permits were pulled? After all, you both knew it was a rehab job.
Lastly, before acting only on emotions and getting state agencies involved, you really have to consider the ramifications of doing so... after all, California is the most regulated and less free state in the Union.
I do wish you a quick and stress free fix. And you may want to go to the doctors to get that chronic sore throat and chest pains looked at.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:37AM
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GardenGuy32

i agree. government could care less about anyone.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 2:06PM
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cmarlin20

Good advice from NCREG, I live in CA and don't mean to sound uncaring about your circumstances, but really this asbestos thing is blown way of of proportion.

Quietly remove it and move on with your life.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 5:58PM
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ncrealestateguy

I do hope you get to enjoy your new home as quickly as possible.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:11PM
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kudzu9

It is really unhelpful when the OP destroys the value of a thread by going in and deleting multiple posts.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 2:13PM
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weedyacres

I suspect the OP consulted a lawyer who advised him/her not to share any info about the case with anyone. And details on a public forum would be included in that definition.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 5:57PM
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ncrealestateguy

What case?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 6:34PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

Yeah, what case?
The OP was originally looking to sue everyone, then found out there was no asbestos in the house (and NOT causing the alleged health problems).
I don't see where there could BE a case!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 6:46PM
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mrsmuggleton

I can't agree with this information...or should I say, misinformation.

"If it were my house, I would buy a gas mask and stick a fan in the attic vent blowing out and carefully remove the stuff. People get sick from this stuff if exposed to it over years and years, not from being exposed to it for an hour during a removal."

It only takes one small fibre to be inhaled to get mesothelioma...if you are one of the unlucky ones. I have no idea what the legal requirements for asbestos removal is in the US, but here in Aust you have to conform to very strict procedures. I would be surprised if this wasn't the case there as well as this is, potentially, a very deadly disease and not one to be taken lightly..

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 6:20AM
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ncrealestateguy

This is what I would do. You can do what you think is good for you. Every person in the US has been exposed to asbestos at some point and yet Mesothilioma is a very rare disease. My post did say to wear a gas mask and use negative pressure venting.
If there are documented cases of people getting sick with an exposure to one thread of asbestos, then I would rethink how I would handle the stuff.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 6:47AM
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