Profile picture for cincinnatian

Should I test my siding for asbestos and pursue legal action on seller's lack of disclosure?

Last October, my family purchased a single family dwelling in Northern Kentucky. On the seller disclosure, one of the questions is "Are you aware of any use of ureaformaldehyde, asbestos materials, or lead based paint in or on this home?" The seller responded "No", with the other choices being "Yes" and "Unknown".

Yesterday, I was installing a porch receptacle, and removed several pieces of vinyl siding. I started drilling and cutting to install my box, and it turns out there is fiber cement siding behind the vinyl siding. The vinyl siding was installed in 2009 by a company the former seller hired.

The seller left many documents with receipts and contracts for work he had performed on the house. I found the contract for the vinyl siding, and in the special remarks section on the contract, there's a note stating "Pending customers [sic] decision to remove asbestos siding". The document was signed and dated by the seller.

I don't know if the seller had the siding tested for asbestos, but it seems like the response on the seller disclosure required a response of "Unknown" at minimum, allowing me the chance make an informed decision. The statement on the siding contract indicates that he was aware of at least the possibility—if not the likelihood—of asbestos in the old siding, and he was faced with the decision of whether to cover the siding or have it removed.

The disclosure would have influenced our purchase decision and/or price. We bought with the intent of doing several exterior renovations, and those renovations will involve removal of the siding. And if I sold my house tomorrow, I would be morally obliged to at least disclose "Unknown" and an explanation regarding asbestos

So, should I have the siding tested and hire an attorney if it contains asbestos?
  • August 11 2014 - Fort Mitchell
  • 0
    0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

Answers (6)

Best Answer

Profile picture for wetdawgs
I would do some calculations, but before spending money on attorney I'd have it tested for asbestos.

Then, get some quotes on removal.   How does this compare with limits related to small claims court?

Then get an estimate of attorney fees.

And, evaluate whether or not there is any way you'd get any money out of the sellers (e.g. was it a short sale or foreclosure, your chances are less). 
  • August 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Well, I'm sorry, C.

All the best,
  • August 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for cincinnatian
Hi Mack,

Thanks for your reply, I appreciate your input and experience. For what it's worth, I'm not angry at anyone. :)

I pretty much approached the house as you say: I assumed there would be lead paint and asbestos materials. In fact, I've gutted the entire old structure on the interior and had all asbestos materials professionally removed, and all plaster has been replaced with drywall. So I'm no stranger to these types of things.

That's a good point about not checking underneath the vinyl siding. I'm not sure how I could've done that, since it's not possible to see without removing both the siding and the foam insulation underneath, but I'll chalk it up to inexperience on my behalf. Thanks very much for your insight.
  • August 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

I don't quite know who you should be angry at, but in much of the country we treat asbestos siding like lead-based paint - we presume that people who buy old houses are aware that asbestos products were widely used t the time, and we also presume that the current owners have tried to learn as little as possible about it.

You may as well talk to an attorney, and my guess is that s/he'll advise you to forget about it. For one thing, the seller's attorney (if you sue, they'll get one too, right?) will likely ask you why you didn't explore what was underneath the vinyl siding if doing exterior renovations was in your plan.

Remediation isn't an issue, removal and disposal is, though.
  • August 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for cincinnatian
Hi wetdawgs, thanks for your response. I have spoken with an two attorneys and they both feel this is a strong case. I think I'm looking more for outside perspective, because attorneys would obviously have a vested interest in me pursuing legal action.
  • August 11 2014
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for wetdawgs
Please talk to an attorney on whether or not you can pursue action against the seller. 

My humble opinion is that many people have very poor memories of what has been done with their homes and things they've learned, so while the disclosure doc may be interesting starting point for things that are disclosed, I assume "no" and "don't know" means it is time to investigate.  Perhaps I'm simply a skeptic!

  • August 11 2014
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.