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Just the word “Asbestos” causes most people to cringe. Growing up, the word immediately made me think “lung cancer” just by association. Now that I’m a rehabber, the word immediately makes me think “time to spend money.”

Obviously asbestos needs to be disposed of safely, and this can cost you some money. But dealing with asbestos as a house-flipper means staying informed and understanding what you’re dealing with. Before getting started in real estate investing or house-flipping, asbestos is an important topic to stay informed on.

To help with this, I’ve put together some basic information about asbestos to add to your list of quick house flipping tips:

Asbestos is a natural mineral that does not easily decompose. It was typically used in homes built between the 1930s and 1970s (the U.S. government banned it for use in homes during the late 70s, so if the property you’re buying was built in the 1980s or later, the chances of it containing any asbestos are slim).

The most common uses of asbestos during that 40-year span included:
Roofing and siding shingles
Insulation
Textured paint
Patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints
Artificial ashes and embers used in gas-fired fireplaces
Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves
Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
Hot water pipe and steam pipe covering

So, if you find a property that you have purchased for Rehab and it is built during those above stated years, it is up to you as the home owner/flipper to insure that you do your due diligence.

What would I do? Well, first assess the property and develop a rough idea of your scope of work. Once that is done, if there is any area of the house where there may be asbestos you should have a “survey.” This survey needs to be done by a licensed contractor to evaluate any/and all parts of the house. A survey consists of testing any and all areas of the house taking samples of the areas where asbestos was commonly used. These samples are then sent out to an Independent testing company. (FYI- This survey needs to be completed before you do any type of demo of the house.)

If any areas of the house come back positive, then proper disposal/removal will need to take place and you’ll have to hire a Licensed Asbestos Contractor to abate the infected area in conjunction with the Commonwealth Massachusetts Regulations or CMR’s regarding of handling of asbestos materials. If you are flipping in other states, please refer to your local state regulations.

Here is a link to the specific CMR (310 CMR 7.15):
http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/air/laws/asbestosreg14.pdf

This is just a broad overview of dealing with asbestos while flipping. Please, use the CMR’s as your guide, and definitely err on the side of caution when dealing with asbestos. It can be an extremely costly mistake if you choose to ignore any contamination during your flips. Best of luck!!

We also wanted to provide some perspective from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, who are experts in this field.

“Exposure to asbestos has also been linked to directly cause deadly diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and peritoneal mesothelioma.Since in these diseases, some symptoms don’t fully show themselves until 20 to 40 years down the road, it is important to stay cognizant on your health and safety during a house flip. Asbestos is not dangerous when properly enclosed in a home. However, during a house flip, it is very common for asbestos particles to become airborne, which allows the risk of it getting breathed in. Asbestos then gets lodged into both the the lining of and the lung where it forms scar tissue and allows for cancerous and harmful cells to start to slowly form.”
-Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

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