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Buying a House with Asbestos Siding


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by Stock Images

Homes built before 1980 can have asbestos hiding in a lot of different locations. The professionals have a lot to say about asbestos, and it’s worth reading some of their warnings. In this piece, we’ll talk all about asbestos siding. You’ll learn what asbestos is, the danger of it, what to do with a home that has asbestos siding, and the legal pieces of the puzzle.

Should I Buy A House with Asbestos Siding?

There are a lot of things to consider when you ask yourself, “should I buy a house with asbestos siding?”.

This simple answer is that it depends on the individual buyer. If everything else about the house is perfect, then there’s no reason to turn down a house specifically because it has asbestos siding.

You’ll learn more in a little bit, but asbestos doesn’t pose a hazard on its own. As long as the siding is undamaged and undisturbed, the asbestos fibers won’t cause you any harm.

Understand that some insurance companies won’t cover a home with asbestos siding; this means that finding insurance is going to be tough.

For that reason, it’s always a good idea to plan for replacing the siding. It also reduces the risk of damage if your siding gets damaged by any source.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fiber that’s known for its heat-resistance and insulation properties. It’s also known to be a cancer-causing mineral and highly toxic.

When inhaled, the asbestos will get trapped in your body and lead to a long list of different problems.

What Does Asbestos Look Like?

So, what does asbestos look like? In its natural form, asbestos looks like a white fiber. When it’s used in different materials, it loses its distinct features.

That’s to say that it’s almost impossible to tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. Siding that contains asbestos can look just like any other cement siding.

Here are some pictures of different forms of asbestos.

Types of Asbestos

A lot of people don’t realize this, but asbestos is actually an umbrella term. It refers to six different types of fibers.

  • Chrysotile
  • Amosite
  • Crocidolite
  • Anthophyllite
  • Tremolite
  • Actinolite

The two first types are the most prevalent types you’ll find in your home. These are also in the sub-category of asbestos that is less dangerous. That being said, it is still very dangerous to be exposed to asbestos.

Dangers and Health Risks of Asbestos

There are a lot of health risks associated with asbestos exposure. Simply inhaling the fibers is enough to start getting sick.

The most notable health risk that is specific to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma. This is a type of cancer that’s found in the lungs, larynx, and ovaries.

The other asbestos-related diseases are:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural effusions
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pleuritis
  • Diffuse pleural thickening
  • COPD

Due to the fact that asbestos is so dangerous, experts put a lot of effort into getting rid of asbestos in house. Modern homes cannot be built with asbestos, and major remodels always have to include removing whatever asbestos is present in the house.

Research suggests that there’s no specific limit to how much asbestos it’s safe to be exposed to. The smallest amount can be dangerous, so it’s suggested to avoid it at all costs. The longer you’re exposed to the fibers, the more dangerous it is.

How hard is it to get rid of asbestos in house?

Removing Asbestos Siding

The process of removing the asbestos siding is pretty strenuous. It requires a surprising amount of training and understanding in order to carry out asbestos removal.

You should always go to a professional when it comes to removing asbestos siding.

Don’t DIY This One

A lot of us spend plenty of time DIY-ing around the home. When it comes to asbestos, you don’t want to try it.

It takes the right equipment, protective gear, and knowledge to take on such a project. On top of that, asbestos has to be disposed of in the right area.

There are pretty strict local and federal regulations that make it very hard to remove asbestos on your own and could result in health problems and legal issues.

Where Else Might I Find Asbestos in My Home?

The asbestos pro will be able to point out some other known trouble areas for asbestos in your home. Some of the most common are:

  • Insulation around pipes, boilers, or ducts
  • Insulation around stoves or furnaces
  • Floor tiles
  • Roofing or shingles
  • Siding
  • Materials on walls and ceilings, which includes soundproofing elements or decorative material
  • Textured wall paints

The only real way to know if these surfaces have asbestos in them is with a lab test. An expert will come to your home, take a sample of the suspected material, and analyze it under a microscope. Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking they can tell just by looking or by using a swab.

When you find asbestos and want to remove it, you’ll want to know what to expect when budgeting. Let’s take a quick look.

Asbestos Removal Cost

Removing asbestos can be an expensive task, depending on where it’s located and how much you have to replace.

The costs you’ll see below include removing and disposing of the asbestos.

  • To remove asbestos shingles, you might pay upwards of $100 per square foot.
  • For asbestos ceiling tile removal, you can expect around $10 a square foot.
  • For asbestos popcorn ceilings, you might pay $5 per square foot.
  • Asbestos flooring will set you back around $10 per square foot.
  • Finally, asbestos walling can cost $10 a square foot as well.

Asbestos Siding Removal Cost

If you’re looking specifically at asbestos siding removal costs, you can find a more specific number. The rule of thumb is to budget for around $8 per square foot of siding you’re looking to replace. The range is between $6 and $10 per square foot.

That rate factors in the contractor’s hourly rate, material costs, and removal. If you have 1,000 square feet of siding, then you can expect your bill to be around $8,000.

There is less setup required for siding removal as there is with, say, asbestos shingles.

Can You Sell A House with Asbestos Siding?

So you found out that your home has asbestos siding. Do you repair it or sell it as-is?

The good news is that you have the option to sell your home. There’s nothing stopping you from listing the property, and some real estate agents say that asbestos isn’t even a deal killer for a buyer.

The buyer may either choose to replace the asbestos siding themselves, ask you to replace it before the sale, or just live with the siding the way that it is.

Is It Legal to Sell a House with Asbestos Siding?

It is perfectly legal to sell a house with asbestos siding. In fact, you can sell a home that has asbestos in a number of different locations.

The kicker is that it has to be disclosed to the buyer. Failure to disclose an asbestos problem can result in some big lawsuits in the future.

Selling a Pre-1980 Home in Regards to Asbestos

The next question you might have is about selling your pre-1980 home. If you don’t know whether or not you have asbestos, do you have to rush to get an asbestos test before listing the home? How can you even tell? What’s the legality here?

There’s no need to panic. The truth is that asbestos was a very common building material in those years. If you don’t know whether or not you have asbestos, you can still legally list your home.

Omitting a Positive Asbestos Test

Keep in mind, if you have gone through an asbestos test and know the results (depending on your location and state law), you cannot lie about the data or omit it. It can bring you a lot of legal trouble.

You’ll have to consult with a local law expert to understand asbestos disclosure requirements for your state.

In some states, the buyer can sue you for medical damages down the road. This is especially damaging if they suffer from the various cancers linked to asbestos.

The best advice is to always be honest in the listing. You might be surprised to see how little of an impact it has on the buyers.

Prospective Buyer is Requesting an Asbestos Test

You are not legally required to provide an asbestos test for an interested buyer. In fact, a test might actually disrupt the asbestos in your home and make your property dangerous.

See if you can negotiate with the buyer if they are truly interested. Otherwise, you can ignore their request and field other offers.

Positive Test After a Buyer Showed Interest

If you decide to do an asbestos test after a buyer showed interest and started some of the paperwork, be warned.

A positive test gives the buyer a legal opportunity to walk away from the deal. In fact, even a suggestion from the home inspector that there might be asbestos is good enough reason to leave the deal legally.

Do I Have to Remove Asbestos for a Buyer?

Legally, you don’t have to remove asbestos in your home for a buyer. All the law requires you to do is report the test results.

If a buyer is demanding the asbestos be removed, there are a few things you can do. First off, you can ignore their offer and move on to another buyer.

You can agree on a price reduction for the home.

You can alternatively decide to remove the asbestos prior to the sale.

For the last two options, it might be a good idea to get a quote for asbestos removal. This will help you to understand which option saves you more money in the sale.

Contain, Remove, Or Abate the Asbestos?

There are three terms you’ll see associated with remedying asbestos. You’ll hear people suggest that you contain, remove, or abate the asbestos found in your home.

What is Asbestos Removal?

Removing asbestos requires a professional team to come out, take off the asbestos material, and throw it away correctly. In this case, you’ll be facing an additional cost of installing new material.

What is Asbestos Containment

Containing is the same as abating. People might use these terms interchangeably.

In the industry, abatement is the preferred term, and it can refer to materials other than just asbestos.

What is Asbestos Abatement?

Asbestos abatement is the act of encapsulating the asbestos rather than removing it.

In the case of siding, there’s an opportunity to simply put a layer of siding on the exterior of the asbestos siding.

Asbestos abatement is the preferred method in a lot of situations because it saves a lot of money in the long run. Disposal costs are really expensive because it requires a team of trained professionals, a bit of preparation, a lot of care, special equipment, and specialized disposal.

Abatement also includes the installation of new material, a cost that is neglected in removal.

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Now you know all about asbestos siding. You know where to look for it, what homes are likely to have it, and what to do once you find it. As far as selling your home, rest assured that it is completely legal to sell a property that has asbestos in house—as long as you disclose it with the buyer.

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Ask a Realtor in Kansas City

If you are looking for houses in the Kansas City metro area and have more questions about asbestos siding, you should reach out to the skilled team at Hills Real Estate. They are super patient and helpful and can walk you through the pros and cons for asbestos and any other home questions you have.

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