(Excerpt from the Newsletter by Carson Dunlop. For full version, please click on the picture)
Spring has sprung, and with it comes more than just the pitter patter of raindrops on your roof. As we begin to see the temperature consistently above zero, and climbing, many homeowners will dive into their next home renovation project.
If you're one of the many homeowners undertaking a spring project, consider the following: Renovations can be a disruptive activity and it's important to be aware of what it is you're disrupting. Some projects create a mess of dirt and debris, and some create, or rather expose, more dangerous substances.
In last month's March Poll we asked you to look at a picture and tell us what was or wasn't wrong with it. Although everyone polled did agree that the photo showed a problem, only 30% identified the possible presence of asbestos in the tiles. In light of the limited knowledge homeowners have with respect to asbestos and mould, and the start of renovation season, we thought it was a great time to discuss the more hazardous materials home construction can unearth.
Prior to the mid-1980s, asbestos was commonly used in many household items like flooring, insulation, and around pipes. Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. As long as it is undisturbed, neither the asbestos fibers nor the dust will be released into the air. However, when it is disturbed, it becomes dangerous. Exposure to asbestos can cause individuals to develop several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Like any hazards, length and intensity of exposure are major factors in the risk of asbestos-related respiratory illness.
If the renovations that you're doing involve areas or items that may contain asbestos, it's important to have an asbestos inspection performed. An asbestos inspection includes:
- A complete visual inspection of the entire home for materials suspected to contain asbestos
- A sampling of materials that are suspected to contain asbestos - according to O. Reg. 278/05
- A report summarizing the results of the sampling and investigation
If there are materials that contain asbestos which are going to be damaged, disturbed or removed by the renovation, the safe approach is to have the materials removed by a qualified contractor.
If you're performing renovations in your basement, bathroom, or any area of your home that sees a lot of moisture, you may encounter mould. Mould can easily hide behind tiles and drywall, and can be found anywhere in the home.
You can't rely on the naked eye, or on mould colour, to identify moulds and their threat to your health and the health of your family. Home test kits can be unreliable too. Not only are you not an expert but the tools can often be faulty if not used correctly.
Since it's normal for mould to be present in the air and in buildings, its mere existence is not necessarily a cause for alarm. But if mould is present in indoor air at levels higher than would be found in outdoor air, or if a significant mould colony is growing on building surfaces, it could be cause for concern. For this reason, we advise homeowners to have a mould inspection performed if there is any indication that a substantial amount of mould is present in the home. A mould inspection includes:
- A complete visual inspection of the entire home from the basement to the attic for signs of water intrusion and mould growth
- Moisture readings collected throughout the home
- Two indoor air samples and one outdoor air sample (for reference)
- A report, which summarizes the results of the sample and investigation
An environmental specialist will help to identify the type of mould in your home, its concentration, and advise you on remediation costs and approaches. Click here to learn more or call 800-268-7070 to book a mould inspection.
How we can Help Home Buyers & Homeowners
The scope of a Home Inspection, as defined by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors, does not include environmental testing. This means that items like asbestos and mould are not covered in a Home Inspection as these materials require sampling and testing that Home Inspectors are not equipped to perform. In addition, they are usually hidden behind walls or under carpet, completely out of sight, so a visual based inspection would not encounter them.
We recognize that even though they aren't included in a Home Inspection, mould and asbestos can be a major concern for homeowners. We offer environmental testing through our partners that can be scheduled at any time through our service centre. We have even redesigned our Buyers Home Inspections to include the option to have clients get their new home tested for hazardous materials at the same time as we do a regular Home Inspection.
Hazardous materials can be encountered during any stage of homeownership, and we're committed to our clients for as long as they own their homes. An environmental assessment can be performed prior to the Home Inspection, during the inspection, or several years after the inspection has taken place. If you are planning on undertaking a renovation this season and haven't had your property assessed for hazardous materials, we'd encourage you to do so.