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    What should a purchaser do if vermiculite insulation is suspected to be present in the home?
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    First you should ensure that your purchaser has a properly qualified home inspector who is aware of the concerns with vermiculite insulation. If a home inspection results in a determination that vermiculite insulation is either present or suspected to be present, a further specific inspection is required. Similar to environmental contamination it is always best to know exactly what the concerns are rather than attempt to guess and base an offer on assumptions.

    You can either have your home inspector take samples of the insulation, with the consent and cooperation of the home owner, or an environmental consultant knowledgeable with vermiculate insulation should be retained to take samples in accordance with the protocol established for this purpose. Below are sample clauses that can be inserted to ensure this.

    If the seller?s agent is drafting the agreement, the seller would want control. If the report is negative, the seller may wish to not disclose to the buyer and void the deal.

    ?This offer is conditional upon the Seller testing the subject property for the presence of asbestos within the vermiculite insulation within the house located on the property at the Seller?s own expense, and the obtaining of a report from an environmental consultant satisfactory to the Buyer in the Buyer?s sole and absolute discretion. If a report is not provided within 10 days this offer is void and the deposit shall be returned without interest or deduction.?

    If the purchaser?s agent is drafting the clause the purchaser will want to control who takes the samples and prepares the report. Recently, I was involved in a transaction where the seller?s agent did not want a qualified consultant to obtain the sample to save money. Instead we agreed for a home inspector to be paid a set fee to obtain the samples and he was provided with the sampling protocol and information to submit the samples directly to a lab for analysis. The following clause was inserted:

    ?This offer is conditional upon the Seller providing access to the property to _______ for the purpose of obtaining samples of the vermiculite insulation in the attic. _______ will be responsible for submitting the samples to a lab to determine whether the vermiculite contains asbestos or other contaminants of concern. The Seller shall pay _______ the sum of $_______ for obtaining and submitting the samples in accordance with the vermiculite sampling procedure and chain of custody guidelines provided by the Seller. The Seller shall be responsible for all costs associated with obtaining a report.?

    The home inspection and lawyer approval clauses were also extended to allow for review of the report under those two conditions.

    The benefit to using an environmental consultant knowledgeable in this area, rather than simply having samples taken and submitted for testing, is that the consultant can assist with analyzing the results from the lab and recommending if the risk can be contained or not. The environmental consultant is also trained to properly obtain and submit the samples and to analyze the lab results. Most importantly the environmental consultant is insured to undertaken this activity.

    Clauses should also be included to address what happens if asbestos is present. If vermiculite that contains asbestos is discovered in the attic, and the asbestos impacted vermiculite is determined to be isolated solely to the attic area, only if your client wants to proceed with an offer I recommend the following clauses:

    ?The vendors warrant that to the best of their knowledge the vermiculite insulation that is impacted by asbestos is restricted to the attic.?

    ?The vendors agree to discount the purchase price by 50% of the estimate provided by a qualified environmental consultant chosen by the purchaser for the removal and reinstatement of the insulation in the attic.?

    This option should only be chosen if the purchaser has obtained enough information to be comfortable that the asbestos impacted vermiculite is restricted to the attic. The purchaser needs to be aware of the obligation to monitor the attic and keep the insulation sealed as well as the fact that this portion of the house cannot be used. This is an example of when you as the agent should draft your own acknowledgement to be executed by the purchaser and maintained with your file.

    If asbestos impacted vermiculite is not contained to the attic, removal and reinstatement of the insulation would be recommended. An experienced environmental consultant would need to be retained at this stage. Also at this stage, the assistance of a lawyer should be sought to draft the clauses required to reflect the risk and liability associated with the actions which would be required.

    Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal advice.





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