Buying a fixer-upper house for a low price and then updating it can be a great way to turn a profit. However, some fixer-uppers need more fixing than what's worth your while. For instance, some older homes contain asbestos, a natural mineral that doesn't decompose easily. If there isn't a lot of asbestos in the home, it may be safely removed; but if there's too much, it can be hazardous to your health and to the environment.
Is Asbestos Ever Safe?
If asbestos is undisturbed, it is relatively safe. However, "undisturbed asbestos" is hard to find since most homes that were built with it are quite old (built from the 1930s to the 1970s) and have seen a lot of wear and tear. When asbestos becomes friable or easily crumbled, it is incredibly dangerous. And older asbestos is usually more friable.
When asbestos breaks down easily, its microscopic fibers can get into the air and cause deadly illness. For instance, people can develop a cancer called mesothelioma, a tumor that mainly lines the lungs, but can also damage the heart, stomach, and other major organs. Some people develop asbestosis, a disease that scars the lungs and that can eventually lead to cancer.
Why Could Flipping A House Make Asbestos Even More Dangerous?
Again, undisturbed asbestos is usually all right. But since you will be remodeling the house to turn a profit, you will most likely be using pneumatic power tools and sanding devices, which can turn asbestos into inhalable dust. If there is asbestos in the roof and you try to work on it, you could end up falling through since it doesn't have the structural integrity to support your weight. As soon as these fibers are airborne, they can easily get into your lungs, and then your body won't be able to break them down.
Flipping a house with tons of asbestos is incredibly bad for the environment and the potential owners. If you've done construction work on the house, then the asbestos can be released into the soil and even the water supply. These fibers can often sit on top of the soil instead of absorbing, meaning that the wind can pick them up and spread them even further than the house's property.
Ask Yourself if You Should Proceed
Before breaking down walls willy-nilly, contact an asbestos inspector. He or she should check the insulation, roofing, any areas with spackling, hot water pipes, and around old fireplaces/stoves.
If the amount of asbestos in the house is small, then you may be able to hire a company like Hutzel & Associates, Inc to safely remove the asbestos for you without harming the environment, yourself, or house buyers. During the removal process, professionals will wear disposable clothes and masks to avoid dangerous fibers. They also will dampen the asbestos and use tools that will not disturb the material even more.
If there is asbestos all over the house, it is probably best to look somewhere else for your project. House flipping can be very time sensitive, and you don't want to blow your remodeling budget on a house that needs tons of asbestos removed