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The Seller states in the contract that the basement tiles may be asbestos. How to proceed?

I am not comfortable moving my family inclusive of my 8 month old daughter in to a home with an asbestos filled basement. Should the Seller normally absorb the removal cost? How valid are my concerns? After removal do the asbestos particles linger?
  • October 23 2013 - US
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Answers (7)

Profile picture for Bkgdc
epa.gov has great information.

  • October 24 2013
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The best advice is to try and avoid the home if the tiles turn out to be made with asbestos. Chances are there may be other materials that contain it in a basement of this age, such as: insulation surrounding furnace hot water lines, outside siding and even roof shingles. If you decide to remove them, then you want to be sure it is done professionally, and the subsequent clean up is very thorough, so no lingering particles can be kicked up into the indoor air flow. 
  • October 23 2013
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I've encountered this in PA freqently.   Read up on asbestos tiles in paritcular.  As Wetdawgs stated:  if they are intact and not hanging down or deteriorated the risk should be minimum. 

We have pipes wrapped in Asbestos in PA.  Again as long as the material is in tact there is no danger.

At some point in time you could contact someone about removing them if you want to remodel.
  • October 23 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
If the tiles are intact, the problem is minuscule.  Note:  If the sellers say "may", it doesn't mean that they do contain asbestos just that the sellers are uncertain.     If you buy a home built before a certain date and it contains tiles, the probability that they contain asbestos is very high.   This is true also for paint containing lead (i.e. before a certain date).    Sellers normally will not remove functional tiles nor will they totally remediate a house for lead containing paint.

Removing asbestos tiles that are not broken is likely to put far more residual asbestos in the air than leaving them in place.

If you wish to avoid these two issues totally, you will need to watch the date of construction very carefully.

  • October 23 2013
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As asbestos issues go, tiles are near the least problematic. If removed properly the particles will not be released from the tiles. They are essentially encapsulated.

Firstly, someone needs to determine if the tiles contain asbestos, or not. Then if they do, the remediation needs to be priced and who is going to pay for it needs to be negotiated. The Seller will pay for it if you make them. They obviously have chosen not to do it voluntarily. You could pay for it after they reduce the price a commensurate amount, or whatever. They're going to say they already reduced the price to reflect the tile issue. You're going to have to argue for more reduction or to eliminate the problem before closing at some agreed price reflecting this fact.

 Did they not disclose this in a Seller Property Condition Disclosure before entering contract negotiations? Most states would require this?

Maybe you should keep looking for another house. I bet you really love this one, but...

  • October 23 2013
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I recommend a home inspection, with a specific focus on the asbestos.

There are companies that specialize in removing it, but they are significant cost so confirming it will save you money.

The selling price is usually already accounting for this, but I would also have your agent involved in case you need to cancel your offer.

Great question, and good luck!
  • October 23 2013
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I think the best place to begin would be to contact a company who specializes in asbestos removal in the area you are purchasing the home.  They will be able to give you detailed answers to all of your questions and concerns!
  • October 23 2013
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