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Old 08-20-2008, 07:56 AM
 
668 posts, read 5,434,827 times
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I am a first-time home buyer, and I wondered how it works with inspections. I know what goes on with a regular inspection, but does the inspector also test for environmental issues--such as radon, mold, bugs (roaches, termites, etc.), air quality, lead in pipes, pipe integrity, asbestos in tiles, floor, roof, etc.? Also, is the house near anything like a landfill, power lines, etc. Or would it be better to get some sort of environmental inspector to do this? Has anyone had an environmental inspection prior to buying a house?
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:20 AM
 
Location: Knoxville
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Most of the time, a home inspection is just that, and does NOT include other things. Many home inspectors may be qualified and offer other services. Some may refer those jobs to someone they know and trust.

For instance, I do radon testing. There is an additional fee. I do not do air quality or mold testing, though I do call out IF I see mold or fungus. Same for bugs/termites, etc.

Many times there are licenses required for some services, such as pest control and termites. The home inspector may not have a license to perform those services.

Here is my thoughts (FWIW) on air testing and mold testing by home inspectors.
Several years ago, mold testing labs set out to sign up home inspectors to do mold testing. There mantra was "Mold is Gold!!!", and they pushed testing as a means to make more money. IT also brought them a lot of money, because we would have to buy our equipment from them, and use their labs for the testing. $$$$$ for them.

They offered training of anywhere from 4 hours to 5 days, and you were then "certified".

I decided as a business decision, I did not want to accept the increased liability of testing for mold, if I did not have enough training and credentials to defend myself in case I ended up in court. I leave that stuff to professionals that have extensive training and education in the field.

I have seen (and know) many inspectors that do mold testing that really have no business doing it. Adding to the problem, some of these guys also are willing to FIX the problem. I feel this is a conflict of interest, and stretches the ethics line a little too much for me.

As far as asbestos goes, it depends on the scope of the job. While I spent many years as a registered EPA Asbestos Inspector and Management Planner, I quit doing the continuing education to keep up my certification. To get certified, I had to take a 40 hour class, and pass the EPA exam. I also had to complete an 8 hour class each year (and exam) to keep it up.

Some of your concerns are more a Phase 1 Environmental, than a home inspection. While home inspectors will look at the pipes as far as condition and leaks, we don't really address lead in the solder. Obviously we can't inspect what we can't see, so anything underground is outside the scope of a regular home inspection.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:23 AM
 
668 posts, read 5,434,827 times
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So I guess my question is: what type of inspector would do this environmental inspecting? Is it one type of inspector who would do it all, or would I need to have different inspectors with different expertise do it? I would want to know if the house I am interested in has a mold problem, or radon or asbestos, and if I find out that it does, if it is going to be too expensive to remedy I wouldn't buy the house.

Doesn't everyone want to find out if their potential house has these things, rather than finding out later, when you're already living in the house and it might be expensive to fix?
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:48 AM
 
Location: Salem, OR
14,468 posts, read 34,550,414 times
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In Oregon a few home inspectors are certified mold inspectors so they could do both. Most are NOT, so it would typically be a home inspector, mold inspector, lead inspector (with his machine thing), radon testing via another inspector. If you were in Oregon it would be $400 for the home inspect, about $600 for the mold inspect, $250 for the lead, and $225 for radon.

Power easements are shown on plat maps here, and if you want power to your home you will have power lines on your property. Transformer stations can't be missed unless you are blind (not being facetious here, but you can see them). Landfills are dedicated areas in Oregon and you could ask the state or city where they are. No need for an "inspection" just a couple of phone calls.

If you aren't buying a pre 1978 home, you don't have to do a lead inspection unless you are overly cautious. I've never had anyone test for asbestos, and in certain aged homes we just assume it is there. I have no idea of the costs of that inspection.

As for doesn't everyone want to know...I tell all of my clients purchasing homes from certain eras to ASSUME that the house has these things and take that into consideration when remodeling.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:52 AM
 
668 posts, read 5,434,827 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverfall View Post
I

As for doesn't everyone want to know...I tell all of my clients purchasing homes from certain eras to ASSUME that the house has these things and take that into consideration when remodeling.
See that's the thing--I don't want to buy a house and later remodel and then find out there's asbestos and then we have to live there while we deal with the asbestos. It seems like finding out for sure before buying the house would save a lot of problems down the road.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Salem, OR
14,468 posts, read 34,550,414 times
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Then I would buy a home built after 1979. That way you don't have to worry about lead and asbestos. People aren't going to remodel their home for you. Asbestos was used in many things. This is not an easy remedy a good chunk of the time.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
1,858 posts, read 4,247,793 times
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There are radon test canisters you can purchase but it's a couple week's turnaround time. For home purchase just be aware of tampering since you do leave the test kit there for a couple days. Radon levels also fluctuate greatly. Low levels of radon can be aired out periodically, higher levels you need a mitigation system (shouldn't be more than $1000 but of course depends on size of room and how complex a system you want).
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Mokelumne Hill, CA & El Pescadero, BCS MX.
6,958 posts, read 19,882,551 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doglover29 View Post
So I guess my question is: what type of inspector would do this environmental inspecting?
You're looking for an industrial hygienist. They can be found in the yellow pages.

LOL or you can google them in about half the time. I can't believe I suggested someone paw through a book
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:11 PM
 
668 posts, read 5,434,827 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barking Spider View Post
Most of the time, a home inspection is just that, and does NOT include other things.
So I'm reading more about this and I think an industrial hygeinist is what I need, but it seems like they more commonly do their job in commercial buildings rather than residential.

Why isn't environmental inspecting more common, or part of the home inspection? Doesn't everyone want to know what environmental hazards lurk in the home they're about to buy? For instance, if I'm told I have a radon problem, why would I buy that house? Don't potential home-buyers want to know this info before they buy the house, and not find out after, when it's expensive to do something about?
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:00 PM
 
Location: Mokelumne Hill, CA & El Pescadero, BCS MX.
6,958 posts, read 19,882,551 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doglover29 View Post
So I'm reading more about this and I think an industrial hygeinist is what I need, but it seems like they more commonly do their job in commercial buildings rather than residential.
Yes they do tend to do most of their work in commercial structures. Commercial structures are more likely to contain hazardous materials.

Quote:
Why isn't environmental inspecting more common, or part of the home inspection? Doesn't everyone want to know what environmental hazards lurk in the home they're about to buy? For instance, if I'm told I have a radon problem, why would I buy that house? Don't potential home-buyers want to know this info before they buy the house, and not find out after, when it's expensive to do something about?
I think most people assume that if the members of the family living in the home haven't grown a third arm or tumors all over them, that it probably isn't going to be a problem for them either. Radon can be remediated.

Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon | Publications | Radon | Indoor Air | Air | US EPA
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