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Permits, Penalties and Real Estate

As a Radon Professional and Consultant I’m often asked about permits and whether or not they are really necessary. All too often we hear “The other bids I’ve obtained didn’t mention anything about a permit??” Our reply is simple….it’s because they weren’t planning on pulling one and are assuming you, the client, won’t know any better !! Ridiculous and Insulting !!

Permits not only protect you as the consumer for the job at hand, it has an incredible legal extension and implications. Did you know that before a permit can be pulled by a homeowner or contractor, the Village has required beforehand an active file containing the contractors General Liability Insurance, Workers Comp Insurance and active licenses for the task at hand. They’ve basically done some homework for you!! It also beats the alternative which would be to get caught and the incredible fines that come along with that snafu.

The legal ramifications are significant. Did you know that permits for work do not have a statute of limitation in and Illinois Real Estate Transaction??? That’s right!! Let’s explore and example:  Something awful happens years later and a home has an electrical fire. The insurance company does their due diligence and learns that it was faulty wiring in your finished basement. As the investigation continues, they learn that work was done without the appropriate permits being pulled. ***It does not matter, who owns the home at the time, or how many years lapsed. The owner at the time the work is performed is held responsible!!!*** Now, can you imagine if your radon system was faulty and a future homeowner got sick??? You see where I’m going here?

What’s the best way to find out? Call your local Building and Zoning Department and simply ask. Some communities require permits for Radon Mitigation, others simply do not. Be sure your contractor is in full compliance with your community. Do your homework. And of course, ask questions!

Guardian Radon Mitigation & Electrical Services, LLC is a full time, licensed Radon Mitigation Company that is also bonded and insured. Give us a call with your radon questions!  630.768.9836, our office is open!

Radon Mitigation

Radon Testing Options

Radon testing is big business in Illinois. On January 1, 2008, the Illinois General Assembly enacted the Radon Awareness Act. This was a huge step for the State getting the word out even further regarding the dangers of Radon gas. The law applies to residential real estate transactions on properties with no less than one and no more than four residential dwelling units. Of course as with anything, there are exceptions to the rule:

 http://illinoisrealtor.org/iar/newsreleases/releases/radon.html (easy to read press release!)

Although Guardian Radon Mitigation is not authorized to do radon testing (as it is a conflict with the State), our services very often go hand in hand with the testing profession. There are times when homeowners are conflicted with testing. They are unsure what is expected, how to go about it and the interpretation of the results. Well here goes some tips for having a radon test performed.

Option 1: You are not currently involved in a real estate transaction

As a homeowner your options are much more plentiful as you do not have the same restrictions that usually follow a real estate contract. 

Canister test: Canister tests are quick, economical ways for homeowners to test for radon. They are readily available at many local home improvement stores. Here is Kendall County, Il. they are offered at a discounted rate from the Environmental Health Division. For only $6 per test (current pricing as of June 19, 2014), you may purchase the test kit(s) and the subsidized pricing includes not only the actual kit, but also the lab results too. Another option for our residents in Illinois is to order one directly from the IEMA (State). They too offer reduced cost test kits from  various vendors. The item is shipped directly to your door and includes all material for testing and the lab fee too along with a detailed radon report. Here we’ve provided the link: 

http://www.state.il.us/iema/radon/MeasurementLabsPriceList.asp

**The one caveat we must mention ~ if you choose to utilize one of these kits, be sure and follow the instructions carefully. You cannot “set it and forget it” as they say. Radon has a half-life of approximately 3.8 days which means it continues to decay. Delaying the timing of your test kit will absolutely dilute the test results and provide too much margin of error.

Constant monitors: These monitors are really cool. They look very similar to a carbon monoxide detector and you just plug it in and let it do it’s job. I keep one of these plugged in at all times in my own basement. **I will add, I still have had my home tested by a professional to ensure I’m not getting a false reading. It has a numeric LED display, you can set it for short term or long term testing and it updates air samples once per hour. These run about $120 and can be purchased online. We’ve have not found any of them available at the retailers. Amazon offers many options here.Safety Siren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professional Test (Continuous Monitor): Taking nothing away from this profession, hands down this type of test will provide you with the most comprehensive data and accurate readings for radon gas. The IEMA which governs the licensing of all radon testers and radon mitigators in Illinois go to extensive lengths to ensure that all testers are licensed, have accurate monitors (as they are required to be calibrated after so many hours of use), radon reporting standards and other compliance related standards. This ultimately protects you as the consumer.  These monitors take 4 radon reading per hour for duration of the test (never less than 48 hours). With the ample amount of data collected, you can be sure you will have accurate results. 

Option 2: You are currently involved in a residential real estate contract

Simply stated under these terms you are most likely dictated by the professional advice of your Realtor and/or Attorney. And I might add….listen to them! As a buyer you have the option of testing the home for radon gas. As mentioned in the beginning, the Radon Awareness Act dictates disclosure only, not requirement of testing. If you ask me, it’s pretty “cheap” insurance to have a test done in relation to the grand scheme of things. 

Often in real estate transactions, the verbiage will read “have the home professionally tested” and that is fantastic advice. It avoids any potential collusion or user error and gives you the information that you are looking for in an accurate and timely fashion. The radon report puts everything in perspective and your tester, realtor and attorney are always more than helpful interpreting the results. 

In closing, one cannot “assume” based on the home/structure whether or not the radon levels are elevated. Radon has been found in all 50 states. Testing is the only way to provide that information. Now that you are  “armed and dangerous” consumer, do your due diligence and don’t put off testing any longer.

**If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider sharing it on social media. Help Guardian Radon Mitigation get the word out about the dangers of Radon Gas. 

Getting The Most Value From Your Radon Mitigation System

When it comes to radon mitigation systems, not all systems are created equal. Here is Illinois, radon mitigation is a licensed profession by the State of Illinois therefore mitigation standards have been set and must be adhered to. With that being said ~ a system may meet all compliance standards but not pass the approval of the homeowner(s). 

Starting with some basics, a radon system must have a few basic necessities to function properly. They consist of suction point(s), a minimum of 3 inch piping, the right amount of pitch, a manometer, commonly referred to as a U-tube,  a radon fan, sometimes plastic sheeting depending on the needs of the home and other small hardware items  to assist in mounting the system properly. Lastly, what I feel is just as important is the craftsmanship and aesthetics of the system and how it will coexist with your particular home.

So what does all of that mean? Well for starters, Guardian Radon Mitigation will not put a discount system on a higher end  house. For that matter, we won’t install a discount system on a discount house!! System location, having unnecessary turns, the use of white pvc pipe vs aluminum downspout for exterior systems will all have an effect of the overall look of your system. They type of radon fan used deserves its own mention. How energy efficient if that fan? How much noise will it make? What type of warranty is offered? You want to take into consideration how you are currently using your home and more importantly, how may the home be used in the future??

Let’s turn our conversation to meeting local compliance standards. Be sure and verify that your contractor has the proper insurance and bonding in place and is registered to work in your community (if necessary). Is a permit involved? If so, did the contractor disclose that to you? Have they pulled the necessary permit(s) for your radon system? Call your local Village office to inquire about this. What about if you live in a development that is managed by a home owners association? Has the HOA approved your installation and type of technique used? Will your contractor work with your HOA?

It’s a bit more involved than just “price shopping.”  Most system installs will range between $800 – $2500 nationally according to the EPA. Drilling down a bit more, the majority of systems will fall between $1000 – $1200 for homes that have just one “footprint” (i.e. just a basement, or slab only etc.).  The take away is, when you are making your buying decision, base your decision on the whole picture and the lowest cost of ownership as well as best results – not just price.

We leave you with this:  “Price is what you pay, Value is what you get!” – Warren Buffet

quote-price-is-what-you-pay-value-is-what-you-get-warren-buffett-26797

Radon Mitigation

Having Radon in your home – how dangerous is it really???

In our field of work, we’ve realized that most people have their first experience with radon when they are either buying or selling a home. Certainly, radon is a nuisance for sellers, and to buyers it’s a scary thought and many worry it will sway them away from the purchase of the home. Unfortunately, there is the rest of the world that won’t ever realize they have a problem in their home because there is  a lack of radon awareness in the market today.

Where does it come from?

Since radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, you would never know it surrounds you unless you have a radon test performed on your home. Radon is a soil gas and it comes from the decomposition of Uranium in the ground below. It doesn’t matter whether your basement is finished or unfinished – really nice carpet or tile won’t stop it from coming in!

Radon may rise to elevated levels below any structure (i.e. home, building, school) and gets in through stack effect – very similar to how a chimney works. Areas of entry can vary. Perhaps is the cracks in your foundation flooring, drain tiles in your basement, your water supply, crawl spaces…and the list goes on.

Every area of the country has radon. Conditions and levels will vary from area to area so we cannot stress enough how important it is to test your home.

But we never use our basement….

Not using your basement as living space does not indicate that you and your family are “safe.” Most homes today are built with duct work.  As your furnace fan pushes the air of the home throughout heating and cooling – guess what happens to the levels of radon gas from your basement?? It’s being circulated to the living space of your home!

The most difficult part about all of this –  

In our field of work, we’ve realized that most people have their first experience with radon when they are either buying or selling a home. Certainly, radon is a nuisance for sellers, and to buyers it’s a scary thought and many worry it will sway them away from the purchase of the home. Unfortunately, there is the rest of the world that won’t ever realize they have a problem in their home because there is  a lack of radon awareness in the market today.

Where does it come from?

Since radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas, you would never know it surrounds you unless you have a radon test performed on your home. Radon is a soil gas and it comes from the decomposition of Uranium in the ground below. It doesn’t matter whether your basement is finished or unfinished – really nice carpet or tile won’t stop it from coming in!

Radon may rise to elevated levels below any structure (i.e. home, building, school) and gets in through stack effect – very similar to how a chimney works. Areas of entry can vary. Perhaps is the cracks in your foundation flooring, drain tiles in your basement, your water supply, crawl spaces…and the list goes on.

Every area of the country has radon. Conditions and levels will vary from area to area so we cannot stress enough how important it is to test your home.

But we never use our basement….

Not using your basement as living space does not indicate that you and your family are “safe.” Most homes today are built with duct work.  As your furnace fan pushes the air of the home throughout heating and cooling – guess what happens to the levels of radon gas from your basement?? It’s being circulated to the living space of your home!

The most difficult part about all of this –

To date, the efforts of the EPA, State Radon Programs, Radon Advocates and others have certainly gained momentum in reaching the public about the risks of radon gas in their homes. It’s remains difficult however to get people concerned that their home – their place of solace and security, is a potential source of this hidden danger. Furthermore, it’s very difficult to convince people that radon gas exposure is not a pass or fail type of issue. Risks exist with all levels of radon gas. Naturally, the higher the level, the greater the risk.

For more information –

Provided below are some independent links that can provide additional information for you ~

http://www.epa.gov/radon/

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/radon

http://www.state.il.us/iema/radon/RadonIllinois_nonFlash.asp

http://health.co.kendall.il.us

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

Lung Cancer and Women

What does the word “Woman” bring to mind…..How ’bout partner, wife, mother, caretaker, lover,  schedule planner, gentle, fierce….I can go on and on. Women in general are so focused on taking care of others, they often put themselves last. Then why, oh why would you not test your home for Radon Gas – man or woman??? As parents and husbands/wives,  we buckle our children in the car, help them cross the road, wash their fruits and vegetables, make doctor appointments, dental appointments etc., etc., To all of the women out there (and men too) – we dedicate this post to focusing on YOUR HEALTH. Let’s take care of ourselves and in turn our families. Now let’s take a look at some eye opening information ~

Most people know that smoking can cause cancer, however many don’t realize that Lung Cancer can attack non-smokers too. In America between 16,000 and 24,000 people die of lung cancer each year. According to Cancer.org, if lung cancer in non-smokers had it’s own category ~ it would rank in the top 10 most fatal cancers in the U.S.

There seems to be an underlying perception that if one has been diagnosed with lung cancer, they must have smoked – right?? Well, not necessarily. And to top it off – why does it seem to favor women?? Let’s break things down and take a look –

  • Radon Gas – It’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers
  • Second Hand Smoke – According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3,400 non smokers die of lung cancer from second hand smoke.
  • Gene Mutations – when gene mutation occurs, it contributes to the occurance of cancer.

**Since 1987 Lung Cancer has become the #1 Cancer killer of women in the United States. Alarmingly, 1 in 5 women diagnosed with Lung Cancer have never smoked. Lung Cancer in women surpasses breast cancer, ovarian, uterine, cervical, and vaginal cancers combined. According to Unitingagainstlungcancer.org among never smokers, women are more likely to develop lung cancer vs. men. It also attacks them at a much younger age.

That’s some sobering information above. Knowing that Radon Gas is a major contributor to the potential of lung cancer – why not test your home??? It really can be as simple as washing your fruits and vegetables! There is endless information about Radon Gas exposure and Lung Cancer. Call your local county, visit the Illinois Emergency Management Agency website (or just search Radon and your state). Get yourself educated and take any necessary action. Aren’t you worth it??

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.

**Special thanks to  Uniting Against Lung Cancer and Cancer.org for providing some of this data