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Buying or Selling a Home with Asbestos? What You Need to Know

If your home was built before 1980, it may contain some form of asbestos, which was used for purposes such as insulation for boilers and pipes or in siding or roofing materials for many years prior to 1980. Whether you’re planning on buying or selling, many homeowners worry that buyers won’t even look at a home that contains asbestos while some buyers worry whether they should risk purchasing a house with asbestos.

Having asbestos in a house isn’t dangerous or illegal, but if it is damaged or begins to crumble, it can post a health risk to those living in the home as well as anyone that visits. Knowing the facts about buying and selling a home with asbestos will allow you to make an educated decision on whether the decision is right for you. Keep in mind that buyers don’t need to turn away from a home just because it has asbestos.

Are you interested in buying or selling a home that contains asbestos? The following information will make the process much easier to understand.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral that is used in many building and industrial products due to its resistance to heat, fire, and several caustic chemicals.

How Can I Tell If There is Asbestos in the House?

Since asbestos is a fibrous material, you can’t simply look at a material and know it contains asbestos. Plus, there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released so don’t try to handle it or get a sample of it yourself. If your home was built before 1980, the best course of action is to have a certified asbestos inspector to determine if you have asbestos in your home and whether or not you need to remove it.

Contact the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety to get a list of certified asbestos inspectors.

Where is Asbestos Commonly Found in the Home?

With its strength and heat-resistance, asbestos is used in a variety of building construction materials (prior to 1980), meaning there isn’t one area of the home that it is typically in. Instead, it can be found throughout the home.

The areas asbestos is commonly found include:

  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing of vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds
  • Walls and floors surrounding wood-burning stoves
  • Hot water and steam pipes
  • Oil or coal furnaces and door gaskets
  • Heat-resistant fabrics

Do You Need to Remove Asbestos?

If you have asbestos in your home and it is not damaged, deteriorated, or crumbling and a certified asbestos inspector deems it in good condition, there are no rules or regulations that require it to be removed. If the asbestos in your home is damaged, deteriorated, or crumbling, the law requires it to be removed by a licensed contractor. Never attempt to remove the asbestos yourself.

Massachusetts Asbestos Regulation

If you are planning to remove asbestos from your home, Massachusetts law requires you to notify the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) at least ten working days in advance and the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) at least ten calendar days before beginning work.

In addition to notifying MassDEP and DLS, it’s crucial to also check with the board of health, building inspector, and fire department in your town to determine if you need to notify them prior to removal and/or obtain any approvals before work is started.

Do You Have to Disclose Asbestos When Selling Your Home?

If you’re selling your home in Massachusetts, you legally do not have to disclose asbestos, but you do have to disclose formaldehyde foam insulation and lead paint. Although, if you do know you have asbestos in your home, you should indicate this information in your disclosure agreement since home inspections don’t typically test for asbestos. If you’ve had the asbestos inspected and it has been determined to be in good condition, include this disclosure as well.

Sources:

  1. www.epa.gov
  2. www.mass.gov

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