The United States Environmental Protection Agency claims that nearly 20,000 of the lung cancer deaths that occur every year are caused by radon exposure. If you're in the market to buy a new house, don't overlook the importance of asking about radon exposure risks. Whether the home has already been tested or still needs evaluation, here's a look at what you need to know before you sign the papers.
If Testing Has Been Done
If the seller says that he or she has had the home tested for radon, ask for a copy of the results. You can then decide if you want to accept the previous results or have an independent test of your own. If the test is recent, you may be confident that the results are accurate. If it's been a while, it may be in your best interest to have it repeated.
Before you decide if you trust the results or you want a new test, consider who conducted the prior test and where the samples were taken. If the company tested the upper levels of the home but not the basement, you should conduct a new test in the basement if you have plans to refinish it and use it as part of the living space.
If you decide to retest the house, you'll want to notify the seller right away. Talk with a certified radon mitigation and testing service to have the work done professionally. Licensed testing ensures accuracy, so you can be confident in the results.
If Testing Has Not Been Done
If the seller hasn't had the house tested for radon yet, you'll want to have the testing done right away. Since radon testing can take some time, the sooner you get started, the less delay you'll see in the sales process. Consider talking with a real estate attorney about having a contingency put into the offer that specifies who should conduct the testing, how the costs will be shared and what freedom you reserve to withdraw your offer or reduce the amount if the tests show the presence of radon in the home.
Since radon seeps up from the ground, the tests should be conducted in the lowest level of the house that you plan to use. If you think that you might finish the basement at some point, make sure that you have the basement tested. Otherwise, you might find yourself with an acceptable test result only to find that the concentration of radon on the lower level is higher than what would be deemed safe.
Although many people think about lead paint disclosures and other safety considerations, radon is often overlooked. With the information presented here, you can be proactive about confirming the radon safety of any prospective home before you buy.