Tag Archives: radon mitigation

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 and Homeowners Insurance ~ Is it covered??

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is a product of decomposing Uranium in the earth. Through the decomposition process, radon gas seeps into the Earth’s soil, then providing the opportunity to build up levels and inhabit your home. Radon Gas is found in all 50 states of the U.S. and it’s presence in homes can certainly raise serious health concerns. Radon is not a sudden event or “accident” therefore your homeowner’s policy will most likely not cover the cost of mitigation or health related effects.

Radon Facts and Occurrance

Radon has no color, no odor and is invisible to all of us. Testing for radon gas is strongly recommended for those involved in a real estate transaction. Radon comes from many sources, including our own outdoor air. The dangers increase when we expose ourselves long term to concentrated amounts, such as our indoor air of our homes. Because it is not evident whether or not it is present, radon testing should be conducted. No one gets sick quickly being exposed to radon gas, it’s very different than carbon monoxide. It can however provide ample opportunity for lung cancer. Currently in the U.S. 21,000-23,000 people annually, who are “never-smokers” will have their lives taken by radon induced lung cancer. **Be sure and test your home.

Homeowners Insurance

Lenders and Banks most times make up at least 80% of the homes value in cash therefore will require homeowners insurance to fund the loan. Homeowners is there to protect you from unexpected loss or damage of your property. Loss may occur as a natural event such as tornado, fire hazard, vandalism, theft and other covered events. It will also cover you in the event someone is hurt at your home or on your property. The insurance does not cover the cost of radon mitigation. 

Testing Your Home

Every home when tested will report some level of radon gas. As a matter of fact, there will not/should not ever be a reading of “0” pCi/l and if there is….something went wrong with the test. Outdoor natural occurring radon levels are around .3 pCi/l and the EPA will recommend mitigations for any home that tests over 2.0 pCi/l. **This is for homes not involved in real estate transactions, currently the disclosure level for radon in real estate is 4.0 pCi/l. Testing comes in many convenient options. There are charcoal canister tests available as well as electronic monitors that run continuously in your home and of course professional testing with highly calibrated equipment and lots of data. If you should test the home yourself as a homeowner, please be sure and adhere to the strict instructions to prevent an inaccurate reading.  

Mitigating Your Home

Radon mitigation is a process in which a combination of suction point(s), pipework, radon fan and caulk sealing is installed to reduce indoor radon levels. The type of process most common in the Midwest is called Sub Slab Depressurization. It’s a fancy title that basically mean, to create more negative pressure under your foundation, than already exists in your house. Thus the result is the movement of the gas to an exhaust point and significant reduction levels. In Illinois, radon is a licensed trade and you can find a local mitigation professional on the State of Illinois website. Most systems are installed in as little as one day and begin to work immediately. You must also retest your home after the installation of the system – this will provide you with the new “norm” of reading in your home. The average cost of a radon mitigation install will range from $1000 – $2500. Some systems depending on design and need of the home may fall below or above the state range. An onsite estimate and review of your home is highly recommended. 

Special thanks to the IEMA and UALC for providing some of the content above. 

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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

 

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.