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Residents watch reckless hazardous cleanup — how can they respond to this behavior?  – Silicon Valley

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Q: We live in an older neighborhood that has become trendy over the years. We take daily walks and see a pattern. Typically, when a sale occurs, either the current owner-seller or the new buyer hires workers to dress in moon suits to remove the ceiling material. The popcorn ceiling material in this neighborhood is confirmed to contain asbestos. The acoustic material is scraped off the ceilings, placed in plastic bags and marked as a hazardous material. 

This week, we witnessed workers removing the popcorn acoustic ceiling material without safety equipment, breathing devices or huge plastic sheets collecting the debris. This crew works with the garage doors wide open. We can hear the old forced air furnace roaring away in the cold weather. All the window coverings are off the windows. We see men scrape off hazardous material from the ceilings, no protection and the furnace blasting. Ordinarily, massive plastic sheets are attached to seal off one room at a time from airborne asbestos fibers. Instead, these workers have asbestos fibers blowing through the heating ducts, contaminating the home. 

We learned our longtime neighbors, who are selling the home, hired an unlicensed contractor who submitted the lowest bid to prep the house. Do we report this contamination while remodeling without permits? If not, what do we say to the house’s new owners while on our daily walks? To make matters worse, one owner/seller is in skilled care healing after a fall. Any thoughts?

A: The cost to fix bad work is a typical real estate problem. As I always say, “Frugality can be expensive.” Especially when taking the lowest price or hiring unlicensed workers. In all fairness, maybe they did not know that insured, trained and certified licensed contractors should perform asbestos removal. You are correct; those enormous sheets of plastic, together with a negative air machine, created a sealed environment. Then asbestos dust extractors vacuum and filter the air one room at a time.

It would be many times less expensive to engage licensed certified asbestos abatement professionals to clean up after the unlicensed. If a family moves in, finds out about the asbestos hazards (and they will), litigation and interim housing costs will soar. The time to act is now; let your conscience be your guide.

More information on asbestos is available here.

Realtor Pat Kapowich also provides practical and tactical tips for homebuyers and home sellers at: YouTube.com/PatKapowich Contact him at (408) 245-7700, Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com DRE# 00979413 SiliconValleyBroker.com

 

 

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