You’ve filled out all the paperwork, finished packing up boxes, and maybe even found a buyer… but, you’re worried you won’t be able to sell because your house has asbestos siding. You’ve heard about all the health risks, disadvantages, and obstacles asbestos in a house might make, and you’re wondering if there is anything you can do. Will people even want to buy a house with asbestos siding?
If this sounds familiar, have no fear. In this article we’ll talk about the ins and outs of asbestos siding and how you can sell it. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Asbestos Siding?
Asbestos siding is a common material that is used in a lot of houses that were built between the 1900s-1980s. Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber in rock and soil that is mixed with cement in order to create a base for concrete, stucco, grout, shingles, and more. Or… at least, it used to be.
Asbestos has been around for a long time. Ancient Egyptians used cloths made from asbestos to wrap the deceased bodies of pharaohs in, Romans made magically fireproof napkins and tablecloths with asbestos, and it has been used in building materials since the stone ages. Asbestos is on every continent and has been used for a long time.
People mine asbestos just like you mine copper or coal. Asbestos mining gained a lot of popularity during the industrial revelation, and especially during World War II. In 1906 the first death from asbestos was documented, though plenty undocumented deaths and sicknesses had occurred before that. But, as the years went on, more and more studies revealed that hazardous health concerns with asbestos, and how it can lead to lung cancer and other harmful diseases.
Overtime, this led to regulations and guidelines regarding the use of asbestos, and even many countries banning it altogether. The U.S is not one of these countries. While it is not typical to use asbestos in construction materials today, it is still legal to use and sell it. (As long as you follow the regulations in place.)
Pros and cons of asbestos siding
So, if there are a bunch of health risks involved with asbestos, then why did people use it for so long?
That’s a great question. Asbestos is highly heat resistant and strong. (Thus the Roman’s fireproof napkins.) It makes for a good building material because it can withstand heat and fires. It’s a cheaper material, weather resistant, termite resistant, and it provides good insulation.
The negative side effect of asbestos is that is is hazardous to your health. Breathing in it’s fumes can be life threatening.
If you live in a house built after 1990, than asbestos siding probably isn’t a big problem for you, but if you live in a older home than chances are you have asbestos siding in your house. And, if you’re trying to sell that house, it could pose a difficulty. Here’s what you need to know.
Health risks of asbestos
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, breathing in asbestos can cause a lot of health problems such as,
- Lung cancer
- Scarring in your lungs
- Larynx and ovary cancer
The CDC suggests that the risk of disease depends on factors such as if a person smokes or chews tobacco, how much asbestos exposure they have had and for how long, and if a person already has breathing conditions. While asbestos can be hazardous and harmful if you have a lot of exposure, just because you’re living in a pre 1990 house doesn’t mean you are going to die from it.
Is asbestos in a house safe?
The mere existence of asbestos in a home is not harmful. It is harmful when it gets airborne. If asbestos was used in the building materials it is generally safe, until building materials get damaged- which can release the fibers into the air and become a hazard.
This included drywall, shingles, flooring, and in some cases even paint.
While you should be fine living in a house with asbestos in it, if it gets damaged than you need to get a professional to remove it.
How can you tell if your house has asbestos siding
You can’t easily tell if you have asbestos siding in your house by just looking at it. You have to get it tested at a laboratory.
Check for asbestos if:
- you are renovating
- you have vermiculite insulation
- you have vinyl flooring
- you have cracks or holes around outlets, windows, and baseboards
- you have an attic or crawlspace
- you have water damage anywhere
- you are unsure if you have asbestos but you live in an older house
It is very important to check for asbestos in your house. Even drilling something into the wall or removing deteriorated shingles can cause the fumes to enter the air. Getting your house checked for asbestos in it is very important, especially if you have children around.
Removing asbestos siding
If you check for asbestos and find it in your home and it is at a dangerous level, DON’T touch it.
It needs to be removed by a professional. You can learn more about the removal process here.
Selling your house with asbestos siding
Now that we’ve talked about what asbestos is and the health risks involved, let’s talk about what to do if you have asbestos in your house and you want to sell.
Legally speaking, you are under no obligation to remove the asbestos before the new buyer comes in. However, you are under an obligation to warn any potential buyers that your house has asbestos in it. (Which, as mentioned above, shouldn’t be a problem unless your house is deteriorating.)
Often a seller will feel like they need to lower the price of the house they are selling if it has asbestos. They feel like the asbestos present downgrades the quality of the home. That is always not the case. If you want to sell your house, but it does have a asbestos in it, a great resource is Gary from garybuyshouses.com
Not only will Gary buy your house with asbestos in it, but he will give you a cash offer for your house in whatever condition it is in.