What to do about Asbestos

Asbestos Magnified

When you are purchasing a home or getting ready to sell your home, the topic of Asbestos can pop up during a home inspection. Here are some common questions and answers that can arise.

What is Asbestos? Asbestos is a natural occurring fibrous mineral that may contain silicates. It is resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals and has been used for fireproofing, insulation and also as a decorative element.

Unfortunately, the very qualities that make asbestos great for use can cause adverse effects on people. Asbestos can break into microscopic fibers when disturbed which remain in the air for long periods of time and easily penetrate the human body when inhaled. The fibers can remain in the body tissues for many years and have been known to cause lung cancer and asbestosis.

When does it need to be removed? If asbestos is in good condition and has not been disturbed, there are no laws of regulations that require its removal. However, building owners are required to keep the asbestos in good shape to prevent the release of asbestos particulates. If a renovation or a demolition is going to cause damage to material containing asbestos, then it must be removed before the project begins.

Where is asbestos found? Asbestos is most commonly found in heating system insulation, floor tiles [typically 9”x9” squares] and vinyl sheet flooring, wallboard, mastics, joint compound, decorative plasters, and some siding and roofing products.

What is the removal process?  Choose a licensed DOS certified asbestos abatement contractor to do the removal. They will come in and test the items and can also do an air monitoring test to see if there are particulates in the air. For more specific information on Massachusetts regulations, visit the  MassDEPwebsite.Not all asbestos needs to be removed. If the material is in good shape, it can also be encapsulated, which is less costly than removal.

The abatement contractor will obtain the proper permits, encapsulate the area they will be working in, wear protective gear to do the removal, remove the asbestos, than test the area to make sure all asbestos particulates have been removed.  A large portion of the costs are related to permitting and preparing the area for asbestos removal. A small area can be similar in price to a larger area that needs to be taken care of since it is the preparation and removal costs that are costly, as opposed to the removal of square footage.

Your home inspector will be able to point out if there is a potential for asbestos in your home. The inspector will recommend whether you should call in an inspector for further testing.

Information obtained from the Mass DEP asbestos guide

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The Three Things That Scare You Most About Buying A House

Buying a home must up there with public speaking and the remake of The Exorcist for frightful experiences, but many of us will buy a home, speak publicly and watch that movie again and again in our lifetimes. By giving you a few of the “behind-the-scenes” secrets, we hope to help you deal with the three things that scare you most about buying a home.

The Cost 

The greatest fear that people have about buying a home is being able to afford it.  This is what keeps us awake at night – calculating and recalculating how many lunches we have to pack instead of going out with the gang, to be able to make the mortgage payment. The behind-the-scenes secret to dealing with this fear is working with a great Lender and getting pre-approved BEFORE you start looking at homes, and being realistic about what you’re willing and able to spend. The Lender will give you a range of loan options available and if asked, will give you a realistic projection of what you can REALLY afford, considering your budget and lifestyle.

The Commitment

Women like to stereotype men as having a fear of commitment – but when it comes to buying a home, we’re all susceptible.  Buying a home usually means committing money and time (at least a year – usually more like five years) to being in one spot.If you’re just finishing a degree or training, or you’re not sure that you’ll be in the same position for awhile, you may consider waiting until your life is a little more stable. The behind-the-scenes secret to dealing with the fear of commitment is in buying a home that will resell easily – that has features that other people will want.  In addition, you can get a two-step mortgage that allows you to pay a fixed rate for a certain period of time, and a flexible rate later on – so you can get out of the loan easily after the first step.

The People

Who can you trust in this home-buying process?  This is a big investment we’re talking about.  And it seems that everyone is out to make as much money as possible OFF of you!  There are sellers, real estate consultants, lenders, builders, movers, and attorneys, all of whom may be strangers, and have a vested interest when you buy a home.  It’s easy to be afraid they’ll take you to the cleaners. The behind-the-scenes secret is to check their references.  Really.  Many lenders and real estate consultants operate on a “By Referral Only” basis – in which they ask clients to refer them to others they know are buying a home.  Those who offer “lifetime relationships” and other services (like free reports and seminars on buying or selling homes) are already striving to meet your needs. In reality, they are NOT all out to get you – because in the long run, the BEST business strategy is to make sure that you get what you need and want in a home.

exerpt from By Referral Only