Buying a Home with Radon
You’ve found the home of your dreams, but the inspector comes back with a report saying your radon levels are elevated. What do you do?
Don’t worry! A home with high radon levels can be fixed at an affordable price. Here are some radon home buying “dos and don’ts”. Scroll down for our RED FLAGS on existing systems.
DO NOT: Let elevated radon levels stop you from buying a home.
Radon problems are very common across the US. The average radon system is cheaper to fix than: mold problems, asbestos, drug residue, a broken furnace, a new roof, a broken A/C, and the list goes on… Radon mitigation is cheap and easy, just make sure you find a contractor that does it correctly! Radon systems can often increase the value of your home, as they show the buyer you’ve tested.
DO: negotiate a credit for a radon mitigation system to be installed.
In Colorado, the average cost of a radon mitigation system is $1,200 (2017 est.$). Just like with a broken window or home appliance, you can use this problem as a bargaining chip. It is not an insurmountable problem. Radon is commonplace and so are the qualified professionals that can help you.
DO: use a licensed professional.
The majority of US states have no radon training requirements. Would you let an electrician into your home that hasn’t had a day of training?? No, so why would you let someone deal with a Class A carcinogen with no reputable training. The NRPP and NRSB are the two most common and most rigorous radon licensing bodies. Ask for your contractor’s credentials before signing off on any work orders.
DO NOT: let the seller put in the radon mitigation system.
Time and time again, we get calls from homeowners with radon systems that are not working. Typically, they were put in by the seller when they purchased the home. After move-in savvy homeowners performed a radon test but found their levels were still elevated–what happened? If you found out your home had mold, asbestos, or meth residue, would you be comfortable letting the seller contract the job out to the lowest bidder?? No! So why should you let them handle mitigating a deadly carcinogen? Simply ask for a credit or have funds put into an escrow account. Your realtor should have plenty of experience negotiating these types of things. If they waiver, find yourself a new realtor.
DO: build a radon-ready home.
When building a new home, there is no reliable way to know whether or not you’ll have high radon levels. There are just too many airflow dynamics at play. If you know there is radon in your area (remember, it’s found in all 50 states), simply plan ahead and build radon ready. Radon-ready homes have all the system components “pre-plumbed”, which allows for a quieter, less energy intensive radon fan to be installed should high levels be found. Oftentimes, these systems cost half as much as post construction systems–and they’re totally hidden! Other benefits include soil vapor mitigation. Drier soils have many added benefits, ask any soils engineer! When it comes to new construction, it just pays to build radon-ready!
DO: inspect existing systems.
As we know from www.RadonReality.com, existing radon systems do not always function properly. If a home already has a radon system, do not assume that it has low levels. First perform a radon test. After that, take a look at the red flags below. If any are present, you should call a licensed mitigator for a system servicing.
DO: perform another radon test
The EPA recommends performing a radon test every two years, regardless of whether or not you have a system. Using an inexpensive charcoal canister, you can test your own home and know for a fact that your family is safe. If you have a consumer-grade continuous radon monitor, please perform a self calibration every two years. These radon monitors are a tremendous advancement in tech and they work great; however they do not tell you when they stop working! They are not lifetime monitors. Consumer grade radon monitors are too expensive to re-calibrate, so manufacturers advise the consumer to buy a new one once the calibration wears off. Don’t be satisfied with results that could be false positives, self test your devices every two years with a NRPP certified short term test.
Do you know what radon red flags to look for? Check out this blog to learn which ones to look out for.