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House Inspectors Leave Out Asbestos Disclosure

June 18th, 2009

If you are buying an older home, you should be aware that house inspectors do not include asbestos inspection in the standard home inspection process.

For years, the house inspection industry has discussed the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing the presence of asbestos in a house being inspected. But the industry finally decided to exclude asbestos disclosure. House inspectors figured that if they fail to determine the presence of asbestos in a certain area of the house or certain material in the house, they could be hit with numerous lawsuits.

The failure to detect the presence of asbestos would be common among house inspectors because of the large number of building materials that could contain asbestos. Asbestos can be present in vinyl floor tiles, vinyl flooring, acoustic ceiling fixture, drywall, joint compound, stucco, asphalt roofing and old insulation systems.

Even if house inspectors detect asbestos content in some areas or building materials, the home inspectors are still liable for undetected asbestos present in other areas.

But there are materials that commonly contain asbestos like acoustic ceilings. But materials that have asbestos content are typically not hazardous as long as the materials are not damaged and preserved in the condition they were created.

In some cases though, house inspectors should disclose asbestos content to homeowners, especially in cases where house inspectors come to know of repair plans that could cause asbestos exposure.

Home inspectors are expected to inform homeowners that asbestos exposure can arise if the acoustic ceiling is repaired or if the vinyl flooring is removed improperly. The scraping of acoustic ceilings or vinyl flooring materials triggers the release of asbestos and causes asbestos-related medical conditions.

Asbestos exposure can also occur if the house has old insulation on air ducts installed before 1973. A duct insulation system that looks like a gray cardboard usually contains asbestos.

In both these cases, house inspectors should inform prospective buyers or homeowners to hire special home inspection professionals to conduct another house inspection that focuses on asbestos.

Asbestos-related advice to prospective home buyers or sellers is crucial in cases where possible asbestos exposure is great.

The house inspection industry could include asbestos inspection and disclosure in the regular house inspection process, but the proliferation of frivolous lawsuits filed against house inspectors and other professionals has prevented the industry from including asbestos exposure in standard home inspection.

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