Things to Know and Consider When Buying a House with Asbestos in Hobart
Is asbestos a deal breaker when buying a house in Hobart? Some people might say YES and some might say NO. This deadly material can be seen as a way to negotiate a cheaper price for a property but can also be seen as a big inconvenience for potential homebuyers. Find out what you need to know and consider when buying a house with asbestos in Hobart.
At first, I though that buying a house with asbestos wasn’t just a terrible idea but a complete NO-NO. But considering the fact of how widespread asbestos in Australia actually is, I begin to have a second thought about it!
As an example, do you know that almost one third of Australian houses contain asbestos products? And if your house is somewhat built before the 1990s, it is highly likely to contain asbestos.
Even though these facts aren’t make it all OKAY, it was surprising to know that this deadly material isn’t as rare as I, and maybe you, might have thought. So, in this article, I will tell you important things to know and consider before buying a house with asbestos.
So, what is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral consists of tiny fibres. This mineral has natural properties that make it an inexpensive and excellent fire retardant. Until the mid-1980s, it was added to many building materials to make them become chemical resistant, fireproof and have better insulating properties.
Common building products that mostly contain asbestos are:
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Vermiculite insulation
- Acoustic ceiling tiles
- Insulation on boiler pipes
- Popcorn ceiling texture
- Old asbestos cement siding
- Fencing products
- Glues used under flooring
Is it really THAT dangerous?
Asbestos has tremendous negative impacts to human health when its’ tiny fibres are inhaled and reached the lungs. These tiny fibres can lodge and damage the lung tissues. Asbestos has been linked to many aggressive illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancers, and asbestosis. These diseases seem to be exacerbated by cigarette smoking also.
You may not notice that you already contracted these diseases since the symptoms may appear 15-20 years after the initial exposure. However, if feel these symptoms below, please consult your doctor.
Symptoms of mesothelioma:
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Pain in the lower back or the side of the chest.
- Trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the face and arms
Obtained from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
The impact of asbestos on property value
Based on a research conducted by MAI appraisers, asbestos has impacts on property value. Here is the summary of the research:
- The discount of properties with asbestos ranges from 1/10 until 1/3 of the value of comparable properties without asbestos.
- If asbestos is presence, there is an average decrease in rental rates of an average 11-12% for office buildings, 6-7% for industrial properties, and 8-10% for retail buildings compared to similar properties without asbestos.
- Properties or houses with asbestos take on average 8,2 months longer to sell compared with similar properties without asbestos.
- It takes, on average, 4,88 months longer to rent properties with asbestos compared to similar properties without asbestos.
Data obtained from: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Appraisal-Journal/14522700.html
How to find out if the house I want to buy has asbestos?
First, you should ask the homeowner or the real estate agent if they have any data about asbestos presence there. If they have no clue about it and you want to know if the house you are intended to buy has asbestos or not, you should hire an occupational hygienist to perform a thorough evaluation of the house. They should follow certain testing protocols and will often take many samples from the building.
Once they perform a series of test in an accredited laboratory, you can find out whether the house contains asbestos or not. Also, you can obtain information of where asbestos materials reside within the house and are they friable or non-friable. In most cases, they can also give recommendations to you whether it is better to remove the found asbestos in the house or to leave it there.
What to do if the house I want to buy has asbestos?
Now, the decision is all yours! On the positive side, if the house you want to buy has asbestos, you can ask for a far cheaper price from the owner or the realtor. However, you need to consider how much will you need to spend to remove asbestos from the house. If it’s not that much, then probably it is reasonable to buy the house if you really like it.
But if you still think that asbestos is a major deal breaker and even though you really like the house, then probably it is better to not purchase the house then.
The presence of asbestos in a house can raises a big red flag for some people. However, if it’s not a deal breaker for you, you may get a far cheaper price from the homeowner or the realtor. To find out if the house contains asbestos or not, you can hire an occupational hygienist to inspect the house. After you get the result, the decision is all yours.
NB: We are curious; do you think asbestos is a major deal breaker? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.