A home inspection is important whether you’re buying or selling a home. Where does radon testing fit into the picture?
Let’s look first at considerations from a home seller’s perspective. If your inspector or another qualified professional has already tested your home for radon, the buyer wants assurance the testing was done correctly. She may ask that testing be redone if certain conditions aren’t met.
Did testing comply with the EPA radon checklist or your state’s protocol? Was testing done within the past two years? Have you made any renovations on your home since testing was done? Does your prospective buyer want to live in a basement or level lower than where testing was done?
She may also ask for a new test if your state or local government requires the disclosure of radon information to buyers and that disclosure hasn’t been made.
If you haven’t yet had your home tested for radon, have it done as soon as possible. Test in the lowest level of the home that can be regularly occupied. Test in an area such as a basement or playroom area if that area could be used by your buyer.
If you do the radon test yourself, carefully follow the testing protocol for your area or EPA’s Radon Testing Checklist. If you hire a contractor to test your home, you’ll protect yourself by hiring a qualified individual or company.
How do you find a qualified professional to do the testing? Ask your home inspector. Also, your state should have an office that deals with radon issues. They may be able to provide you with a list of testers in your area. Many states require radon professionals to be licensed, certified, or registered.
If your state doesn’t regulate radon related services, ask your home inspector or a reliable contractor if he holds a license, or a proficiency or certification credential. Has he completed training in measuring radon and properly dealing with radon issues? You may also want to contact the American Society of Home Inspectors, the National Association of Home Inspectors, or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. What if you’re buying a home? The EPA says if you are thinking of buying a home, you can choose to accept an earlier test result from the seller. Or you can ask the seller for a new test to be done by a qualified radon tester.
Before you accept the seller’s test results, ask a few questions. What did previous tests show? Who did the actual testing? Where in the home was the previous testing done? Was it in the level in which you plan to live? Have any changes been made to the home since it was tested? For example, have there been any alterations to the heating and cooling systems?
If you accept the seller’s test results, be sure the test complied with the EPA checklist or relevant state protocols. If you think a new test is needed, discuss it with the seller as soon as possible. If you decide to use a qualified radon tester to have it retested yourself, contact your state radon office for a copy of their approved list of radon testing individuals and companies.
If the seller hasn’t had the home tested, ask that it be done as soon as possible. Consider including radon testing provisions in the contract. Note where in the home the testing will be done and who will do the testing. Also note the type of test to be done and when it will be done. How will the seller and buyer share the test results? Who pays for the cost of testing?
You’ll want to be sure radon testing is done on the level you intend to occupy, whether it’s the first floor or basement area. If you decide to finish or renovate an unfinished area after you buy the home, a radon test should be taken before starting the project and again after the project is finished. Generally, it’s less expensive to install a radon-reduction system before (or during) renovations rather than afterward.
To view more complete information on radon testing from the Environmental Protection agency, go to http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html .