Category Archives: Real Estate

How to select the “right” Radon Mitigation Professional

Whether you are a homeowner or a real estate professional ~ there are some guidelines to use when selecting the right Radon Professional for the job!

How should you select a contractor?

As with any home improvement project there are some “must haves” when evaluating your professional.

1.) Did the contractor inspect your home prior to providing an estimate?

We receive calls daily from perspective homeowners and real estate professionals as well as attorneys asking “Can you give me an estimate on the phone or do you have to come out?” Yes, they should “come out.” The purpose of an onsite estimate is to properly evaluate the home in the state it is in ~ to avoid surprises, and that goes for the client and the installer. Perhaps the home has a finished basement along with a gravel crawl space. What does that mean to you when having the work performed? How will that contractor reduce radon levels in both areas?

2.) Will the contractor provide photographs of work and/or references?

Easy enough to ask for and you should!!

3.) Did the contractor explain to you what work needs to be done? Did they set your expectations on length of the job, materials used, and how the system will “work” after installation?

Many people just don’t know, some are not interested and others don’t think of asking. It’s okay to quiz the potential contractor about these things. Why leave people guessing??

4.) Did the contractor ask for the pre mitigation test levels and the report? 

It is important as a mitigation professional to understand what you are working with. For example, a finished basement has some natural limitations as you do not want any part of the system to be visable in your finished area. Understanding your pre mitigation levels will help the contractor determine how many suction points need to be used, what type of fan to use (one size does not fit all) and other potential road blocks during installation they need to look for. It’s more important than you may think.

5.) May I see your insurance please?? How bout seeing that license too?

Absolutely!! Look for not only their General Liability Insurance as a business, ask for their Worker’s Compensation Insurance too. What if they were hurt while working at YOUR home? Make sense?? Protect yourself.  Ask to see their Radon license. You’d be surprised…there have been some companies here in Illinois that market themselves as “Environmental Experts” – that does not necessarily mean they are licensed to do radon work.

The Contract

Every contract should contain the following at a minimum ~ scope of work, warranty terms and exclusions (yes there are some), start date and completion date, total cost of the job, transferability of the warranty and payment terms. Pretty basic stuff but quite important.

In Closing

We can’t stress this enough, all radon mitigation systems are not created equal. Be sure and select the contract providing the best value. Take into account that a less expensive system may have higher overall operating costs – those costs never go away! Take into account the type of building materials and the technique best suited for your home. Will this system be in line with the aesthetics of your home or will is stick out like a sore thumb? Here in Illinois you can visit the IEMA website to find licensed radon mitigation professionals in your area – the rest is up to you!

 

If you’ve found this article to be helpful, consider sharing it on your social media page! Christopher Bice is the founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC. Christopher is a licensed Radon Mitigation Professional through the IEMA.

03*Special thanks to the EPA for providing some of this content. 

Radon Levels and Renters ~ What Every Tenant Should Know

Unlike homeowners, many renters do not have the professional guidance such as a realtor or attorney when they are looking to sign for a new lease. Renters therefore infrequently will do their due diligence with regards to having any home inspection performed, or environmental testing such as a radon test prior to signing their lease. Here lies the problem ~ as a renter you may be signing for lease unaware of any potential dangers in the home or apartment. As of December 29, 2011 approximately one-third of Illinois housing was being rented (Source: IEMA Press Release)

Illinois passed a  “new” law on January 1, 2012 to help renters learn more about Radon levels in their home.  If the building that you are living in has been previously tested for Radon, the landlord is required to inform you in writing that a radon problem may exist. Prior to signing your lease, be sure and ask about this. If the home or building has NOT been tested, then conduct your own radon test either with a home test kit or licensed testing company. The IEMA recommends that all homes be tested below the third floor. Because Radon is a soil gas, the highest levels are likely to occur in the lowest levels. 

What can you do if you find elevated Radon levels in your place of residence?

Because radon mitigation is considered a remodel project and requires repairs to the building, it is often the landlord or building owner that would have to authorize having the repairs done – not the tenants. If your home has high levels of Radon there are steps that you as the tenant can take to see that the problem gets fixed.

1.) Inform the building owner in writing that the home has tested elevated for Radon 
Gas. Be prepared to provide a copy of the radon results. Ask for details from the owner on how they plan on fixing the problem. 

2.) If you live in an multi-unit building, share your information with your neighbors and encourage them to do their own testing. Remember, just because your unit has tested elevated, there may be other areas of the building that do not. Once others have confirmed, we recommend the same steps be taken. Present the information in writing to the building owner. 

Useful Tenant Checklist:

*Check the building that you live in. Has it been tested for Radon? If so, ask for the results in writing. If it has not, perform a test yourself or hire a licensed testing company to do so. 

*If your radon levels are at 4.0 pCi/l or higher, present to the building owner in writing with a request for further testing and/or installation of a radon mitigation system. 

*If your rented home or unit has elevated levels and you are in need of further assistance, contact the IEMA Radon Hotline at 1-800-325-1245

Lastly, with regards to Radon levels in any type of real estate transaction –  purchase, lease or rentals, Illinois has mandated a “disclosure law” only. Be sure and do your due diligence and protect yourself and your family. With this law now in effect, it is a step in the right direction for tenants in Illinois. 

*Special thank you to the IEMA for providing some of this content

Additional links:

http://www.iema.illinois.gov/HomePage_Content/PressRelease12_29_2011_RadonTennants.pdf

http://www.state.il.us/iema/radon/pdf/RadonGuideForTenants.pdf

 

Real Estate and Radon in Naperville, IL – Who should pay for the radon system when needed?

 Congratulations! You’ve made the offer on your new home and all is moving forward as it should – you’ve been prequalified, love the home, found your home inspector, you’re lovin’ life – then the fear sets in. Your soon to be new home has tested high for Radon Gas. All kinds of thoughts run through you mind…..what do we do now? Do we have to find a different house? Who is going to pay for this?…..I’m not gonna pay….and the list goes on. STOP and breathe. Most experienced Naperville real estate agents and real estate attorneys have a great deal of experience dealing with elevated radon levels and real estate disclosure. This is the time to really lean on your real estate team to help you navigate through the process.

Although there is no clear cut answer on who should pay for any repairs, it usually becomes the burden of the seller to correct any safety issues and Radon is definitely a safety issue. If the seller disagrees and chooses to try and sell the home to another party, elevated radon levels and the disclosure will follow. Therefore it will be in the best interest of both the seller and buyer to “work it out.” Eventually, the seller will most likely have the system installed in order to sell the home, but as always it comes down to how committed they are to selling the home and how committed the buyers are on purchasing that home.

There are times when sellers will be advised to offer a credit or reduction in sale price to help cover the cost of the future repair to the buyer. This can be a sticky situation. Many times, depending on the type of loan that is arranged and/or other credits that have previously been offered during negotiations, the lender may stipulate that the radon mitigation system be installed prior to funding and closing the loan. Keep in mind elevated radon is a health and safety issue therefore many lenders will stand their ground. Also worth noting, as a buyer, if you choose to close on the home “as is” you then own the home and any issues without recourse.

Lastly, once it is decided to install a radon mitigation system, be sure and use a licensed, experienced radon contractor. It is also beneficial to hire an installer that bonds and insures in Naperville, IL. Knowing that the system has been properly installed and is functioning properly allows both the seller and the buyer to move forward with the transaction!

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division. Guardian is also a current registered contractor in the City of Naperville.

Radon Levels in Kendall County, IL

As  we’ve discussed many times before, Radon is a very real problem in many areas of the country. Today we want to delve in and look at our very own Kendall County, IL and learn about the current radon information made available to us and why this should be important to you and your family.

We have all agreed that Radon is a known Class “A” carcinogen and may lead to harmful health effects such as Lung Cancer. What becomes important is to have up to date information about your county and what to do about it if you should find that there is a problem in your home.

Graph of Radon in Kendall County, IL

Kendall County Radon Levels

The chart above demonstrates in the red section, that 52% of the homes within Kendall County have tested at 4.0 pci/l or higher, 20% of the homes read between 2.0 pci/l and 3.9 pci/l (yellow section) and lastly, 28% of the homes tested under 2.0 pci/l. For the average homeowner that is not under a real estate contract, most independent sources such as the EPA will advise mitigating your home if your reading falls within 2.0 – 3.9 pci/l. Remember, the lower your radon levels are, the lower your exposure and ideally your risk. **All of the radon information produced by state, local and national government assume a 70% exposure rate. That means, that you are in your home 70% of the time between sleeping, just being at home, weekends etc. 

*First an foremost, elevated radon is a very “fixable” problem.* If you have tested your home and discover you have a problem, the next step is to find a reputable Radon Contractor. Radon Mitigation as well as Radon Testing are highly specialized trades. Here in Illinois, Radon Mitigators and Radon Testers are required to be state licensed, however this is not the case in all states! With Radon being such a serious health threat ,selecting the right contractor is very important. Here are a few tips to consider:

Is the contractor licensed? You can find an Illinois state licensed contractor on the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) website.

Are they insured? Radon mitigation systems sometimes require alterations to your home. Make sure that the contractor’s insurance is up to date and they have the proper coverage for the scope of work.

Did you receive a written proposal and/or estimate before proceeding? You should always be given a scope of work, breakdown of pricing and any limitations or exclusions that may apply?

Did they provide a guarantee of their work? A qualified installer should be able to get to the root of your problem and address the issue at hand as well as have the confidence that the system will be functional and mitigated to the lowest levels achievable for your home.

Do they have references or reviews?? Be sure and do your homework!

**Are they experienced in what you need them to do?? This is a big one. Don’t fall for companies that will promote how long they’ve been in business or are a jack of all trades and master of none. The pertinent question is – how long have they been Radon professionals?? Do your homework. Although everyone needs to start somewhere, don’t get fooled with salesman talk.

Ask to see their license and know how to read it. For instance, my license number is: RNM2008209. That means, I have a Radon Mitigation Professional license, was licensed in the year 2008, and was the 9th person that year to be licensed.

How many installations have they performed? They should willingly provide this information to you and it can be validated with the Freedom of Information Act.

Have they pulled the appropriate permits to do the job? Radon Mitigation is not a “side job” kind of business. Any reputable contractor will have the appropriate permits for your install. If you are unsure if a permit is needed, call your local Village Hall to find out. 

Lastly, don’t make your decision on price alone. A lower price may indicate lower quality materials being used,  underpaid or unlicensed technicians working on your job and an overall lack of craftsmanship. 

Arming yourself with the right information and being a saavy consumer will put you in the lead. Don’t get caught by surprise. Please be sure and test your home. If you’ve tested in the past and it has been at least 2 years, test again. Staying “in the know” with your radon levels will provide the peace of mind for you and your family.

*Special thanks to the EPA and the IEMA for providing some of the radon facts above.

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

 

Maintaining your Radon Mitigation System

Congratulations! You’ve taken the necessary steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home with a Radon Mitigation System. The next question that usually follows is “Am I required to maintain the system?” Below are some helpful tips about your system to keep in mind.

First and foremost, the radon fan is designed to run 24/7. The radon fan needs to run continuously in order for the system to work properly. Radon systems are unlike other mechanicals in your home such as your furnace or air conditioner as they don’t require annual cleanings or tune ups. They do however require that some attention be paid. When you take the system as a whole into consideration, the only “moving” part is the actual fan itself. As with any type of motor there is a life expectancy.

Most fans on the market today carry a 5 year warranty against mechanical failure. Therefore, most fans will last for at least 5 years. To stay on top of things, you will want to occasionally check the Manometer, or the visual gauge. The manometer will be on the pipe work where your system is located inside of your house. This may be your basement, a closet etc. depending where your point of installation is.  We like to refer to this gauge as the U-tube. Inside of the tube is red or blue liquid. The fluid inside the tube should be offset which indicates a pressure reading. Your installer should have marked the original pressure readings during installation and you may use this as your guide. Offset is good! That means things are working. When your radon fan has been shut off or has stopped working, the pressure reading will be equal or at zero indicating a problem. There are other add-ons that you can have on your system, such as an audible alarm, however for our example in this case, the manometer is your guide.

What do I do if my fan isn’t working? Simply call your contractor. Your licensed professional will be able to trouble shoot the system making any repair necessary or replace the non working fan. A typical fan replacement depending on your area of the country and type of fan used for your home will normally range $250-$400. Lastly, by testing your home every 2 years you are able to verify that your levels remain low and that your system is operating properly.

Christopher Bice, Founder of Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a licensed and certified Radon Mitigation contractor through the State of Illinois’ IEMA Division.

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