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  1. #1
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    Default Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Hello All,

    I was asked to review an inspection performed for an acquaintance of mine. She was concerned that there may have been issues that were not on the report that maybe should have been. She is an elderly lady, no family, and walks with a walking cane That being said. I reviewed the inspection report and noticed some discrepancies within the pictures. One of the discrepancies was that the picture of the water heater shows a far off shot of the water heater and a remark that the water heater is 13 years old and water heaters have a lifespan of 12-18 years. No other comments were made about the water heater. Yet the TPR valve had no extension, the wires were not properly supported or for that matter no romex connector...i could go on... I found this at the site when I went over.

    When I entered the crawlspace I saw pictures 1 & 2. When I went to the water heater I found pictures 3 & 4.

    Please, I read in the standards of practice from ASHI which my state abides excludes environmental hazards as an inspection item. I am wondering if any of you report on the possibility of asbestos or what you may believe to be asbestos. Or if you suspect that it may be an asbestos type product, never mention it because of the SOP you follow.

    I spoke with Scott Patterson about this today and he gave me some insight for a litigation point of view, but I would like your opinions.

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    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I don't mention asbestos or other environmental hazards except to reiterate that I don't inspect for them (it's in big bold letters on my contract).

    I'm always surprised when people buy old houses and are surprised they have asbestos and lead paint. I'd be surprised if they didn't have those things.

    As for the water heater I'd expect to find some more comments for sure.


  3. #3
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    Unhappy Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Why wouldn't we mention it to our client. When in fact most of us know what asbestos looks like when it is in good shape and bad. Is it not an obligation to inform our client about the home they are purchasing? Is it not the right thing to do? Even just to acknowledge it would be better than ignoring it, yes?
    I feel like this poor guy in the Hann Tech marketing link to the left of this post, "Pull your head out."

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    If I have reason to believe that the house is built before '78, I put in a standard "possible toxic materials" paragraph near the beginning of the report. If I see "popcorn" ceilings or duct insulation, I will state that asbestos was used during the time that the home was constructed, but that positive identification can only be done in a laboratory and refer to a lab or abatement contractor.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I always report on material that appears to be asbestos. What's the downside? It can be a major expense, not to mention the potential health hazard. Of course I never put in writing that it IS asbestos. Just that it may be, or likely is, or words to that effect, and that it should be tested by a certified remediation company, yada yada ....

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    If I see anything that looks like asbestos and given the age of home, my comment in my report is something along the lines of.

    Due to the age of house the pipe wrap may contain asbestos, further testing is required to confirm.

    Just because the SOP say you don't have to comment on environmental does not mean you should not report it given that in this case the material is front and centre and in your face sorta thing. You run higher risk of not commenting legally than if you say nothing and try to stand behind a standard. Besides your inspection is based on duty of care, not necessarily a minimum basic SOP. If your colleagues are calling out the presence of asbestos like material you might be wise to enact the same duty of care.

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 03-19-2010 at 05:14 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Like mentioned up above, our company mentions the possibility of asbestos, we have blurb of what our health dept. states about asbestos (with a link t their website) and suggest to seek expert testing/recommendations.


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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I report every instance of possible ACM, IMO this is a big potential liability.

    A typical comment:

    Observation: (FYI) (AI) The floor tiles in the finished area of the basement are similar in appearance to tiles known to contain asbestos and may date from a time when mastic (tile adhesive) containing asbestos was common. See attached picture in the report body for identification.

    Analysis: The only way to determine for certain if this tile and/or mastic contains asbestos is to have a sample taken by a qualified individual tested by a laboratory. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), depending on its location and condition such material sometimes does not require immediate replacement. For additional information see the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) web page at: Asbestos in Your Home | Asbestos | US EPA . General Information about removing asbestos floor tile is available at Floor Tile Removal - Minnesota Dept. of Health . Specific information about information about asbestos removal and disposal requirements in Illinois is available from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency at IEPA Asbestos Program Information

    Recommendation: If you wish to determine if this flooring or mastic contains asbestos, or obtain information about the health implications of this material, consult with a Licensed Industrial Hygienist familiar with residential asbestos flooring. If this flooring is found to contain asbestos, consult with them as to an appropriate course of action.

    (IN automatically inserts the tile of the links, the report contains the actual links)

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 03-19-2010 at 08:15 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    What are the asbestos issues that require addressing in a residential property?
    William S Cook
    Public Adjuster


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Asbestos type pipe/duct wrap or 9x9 tile, is a standard line item in my reports. With the 9x9 maybe it is, maybe it isn't. With the pipe insulation it probably is. I can't imagine not telling people. A line item saying don't you don't inspect such materials doesn't cut it for me.
    I don't 'inspect' it either but it's right there in front of my face. I'm not going to ignore it. Let the client know it may be a hazardous material, get testing, make a decision, blah, blah.
    Joe DIY decides he's going to take it off on a Saturday afternoon because he doesn't like it and now the house is filled with the fibers floating around. Don't forget the 2 year hanging out licking its fingers.
    Clean up or removal costs can easily be a couple grand, you aren't going to tell the client about that possibility?
    Each to their own I guess.

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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Even though SOP state I don't have to look for asbestos and my inspection agreement disclaims asbestos as excluded from the inspection, I tell my clients about it when I see it. My report will say "material noted on pipes in basement that appears to possibly be asbestos - have tested and removed if proven to be asbestos". There have been times I declined to enter crawlspaces because it was all over the pipes or ducts and damaged and laying on the floor. In that type of case, you have to expalin to your client and in the report why the area was not entered or inspected.


    David, I don't know anything about the inspector your friend got but it appears he could have done more for her. And out of curiosity, why didn't she get you for the inspection? While I don't really care if people I know don't use me for their home inspection, what I don't want to hear is their gripes if they think their inspector missed something and then they want my input. A friend of mine gave his sister my number after she had already had the inspection and moved in. The inspector had noted some issues with deck ledger board attachement and missing flashing and gave a price range for repairs. Well they moved in and later discovered moisture damage in the rim joist of the basement where the ledger board attaches. The long and short of it is that she and her husband dismantled the entire deck and pulled it completely away from the house to reveal extensive water damage. She asked if I could come over and tell them if this was something their inspector should have seen. I said all I'd be looking at is a dismantled deck and pile of lumber. She wasnted to know if I felt they had a case for legal recourse. I told her that they essentially destroyed the evidence and any case they might have by pulling the deck apart.

    Hmmmmm.........kinda glad I didn't get that job.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by bill cook View Post
    What are the asbestos issues that require addressing in a residential property?
    William S Cook
    Public Adjuster
    The largest issue relates to the inspectors liability from not telling their client what they found. It is very costly to get rid of ACM. So when an owner discovers they have it and their home inspector did not tell them that the home might have it, who do you think the first person they are going to call will be?

    Really finding ACM or suspect ACM is no different than finding mould growing in a home. We all know or should know what it looks like, but for some reason folks are scared to ID mould as mould when they tell their clients. With asbestos, it is not always easy to ID but this is why you call it suspect ACM or possible ACM.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    David....out of curiosity, why didn't she get you for the inspection?
    I wasn't back in business yet. We relaunched the company after we moved from Colorado Springs to Alabama, in 2010. Her inspection was in Sept. of 09.

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    The largest issue relates to the inspectors liability from not telling their client what they found. It is very costly to get rid of ACM. So when an owner discovers they have it and their home inspector did not tell them that the home might have it, who do you think the first person they are going to call will be?

    Really finding ACM or suspect ACM is no different than finding mould growing in a home. We all know or should know what it looks like, but for some reason folks are scared to ID mould as mould when they tell their clients. With asbestos, it is not always easy to ID but this is why you call it suspect ACM or possible ACM.
    I agree. Identifying ACM as possible or suspect or could be or might be would be better than saying nothing I would think. Especially if when going into the crawlspace you have to duck under it to get in.

    If it looks like poop and smells like poop it might be meatloaf

    Last edited by David D. Whitt; 03-19-2010 at 10:14 AM. Reason: add comment
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I always report on material that appears to be asbestos. What's the downside? It can be a major expense, not to mention the potential health hazard. Of course I never put in writing that it IS asbestos. Just that it may be, or likely is, or words to that effect, and that it should be tested by a certified remediation company, yada yada ....
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    I report every instance of possible ACM, IMO this is a big potential liability.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    I can't imagine not telling people. A line item saying don't you don't inspect such materials doesn't cut it for me.
    I don't 'inspect' it either but it's right there in front of my face. I'm not going to ignore it. Let the client know it may be a hazardous material, get testing, make a decision, blah, blah.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    The largest issue relates to the inspectors liability from not telling their client what they found. It is very costly to get rid of ACM. So when an owner discovers they have it and their home inspector did not tell them that the home might have it, who do you think the first person they are going to call will be?

    With asbestos, it is not always easy to ID but this is why you call it suspect ACM or possible ACM.

    I agree with the above statements. Being as I was in South Florida, which is fairly young by some locations standards, and had little serious heating systems installed and therefore seldom found what I thought was asbestos, but whenever I did find PACM or ACM, I did write it up, and making 'note of it as a general note' is - in my opinion - not good enough for your client.

    As Scott said:
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    The largest issue relates to the inspectors liability from not telling their client what they found.
    David,

    There are also a lot of other problems in that crawl space too.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by David D. Whitt View Post
    If it looks like poop and smells like poop it might contain traces of poop!
    Does anyone suggest encapsulating Asbestos duct tape with metal foil tape??

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Talking about it opens the door that you are looking for it.... why would you give a client a contract and SOPs that state you aren't looking for something and then tell them you found it? That makes no sense. If you plan to look for it.... great.... go for it. Just don't say you aren't. You can't have it both ways - Say you aren't but then do it kind of "on the side" and try to hide behind your contract when you don't find it all. Those are dangerous waters to be wading in IMO.

    Scott P.... something you wrote in a thread years ago rings in my ears almost daily - that in your experience as an expert witness and in litigation (which carries a lot of weight in my book) - you'd never seen anyone get in trouble for not doing something they never said they'd do.

    To me, going too far down roads outside our contracts and SOPs falls under the catagory of "no good deed goes unpunished" - but to each his own.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I have posted this several times on this site with regard to SOP.
    When professional standards fail the test

    All professionals are subject to performance standards dictated by the administrative bodies responsible for overseeing their profession. There are also standards not necessarily prescribed in any law or code but described at any point in time as the common standards within the profession. One might assume that conformance with both types of standard would protect a professional person from legal liability, but that is not always the case. Increasingly, there are occasions where the courts are willing to find that professionals have acted negligently even though they followed the accepted practice of the day.

    The general legal principle that applies is that the standard of care applicable to a professional in the performance of his or her duties is one of reasonable skill, care and knowledge (Central Trust Company v. Rafuse, 1986). Although the standard is an objective one, the law will tailor it to fit each circumstance. Not surprisingly, there has been much debate about how that standard is to be applied in respect of professionals who, by definition, engage is the trading of their skill and knowledge. The one uncontroverted principle arising from that debate is that a professionals error of judgment will not constitute negligence. The problem, of course, has been how to distinguish misjudgment from negligence.

    More to the point, when it comes to determining the importance of professional standards in respect of the legal standard just described, a court considers that a standard practice falls below the legal standard only if the standard practice fails to adopt obvious and reasonable precautions readily apparent to the court. Otherwise, the court will show deference to the standard practice.



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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Talking about it opens the door that you are looking for it.... why would you give a client a contract and SOPs that state you aren't looking for something and then tell them you found it? That makes no sense. If you plan to look for it.... great.... go for it. Just don't say you aren't. You can't have it both ways
    There are a number of conditions for which I do not inspect, but which I occasionally observe incidental to the inspection.

    For example, I do not perform radon inspections, and radon inspection is disclaimed in my contract.

    However when I encounter a window tag that remains from a previous radon inspection I note the fact in my report as an FYI observation, and recommend that the client follow up with the seller or their authorized agent to discover the results of the test if it was not included in the disclosure.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 03-20-2010 at 11:51 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    If an inspector wants to stick to SOPs and not comment on the possible presence of asbestos, that is his choice. But it's not for me. I see way too much asbestos around here to not mention it if I see something I suspect to be asbestos.

    For those of you who handle things this way and stick to the SOPs, what do you say when you see something that you suspect to be asbestos or your client asks you point blank if something looks like asbestos?

    I understand SOPs are there for a reason but if you stick to them and don't deviate, you'd .......

    - never walk a roof
    - never look at the interior of a chimney flue
    - never use a moisture meter
    - never enter any house that has safety issues (because those safety issues could result in harm to you)
    - never identify seal leaks on thermal windows
    - never check the operation of auto-reverse features on garage doors
    - never inspect any exterior plumbing components
    - never operate digital-type thermostats
    - never test a gas fireplace for operability
    - never comment on clearances to combustible surfaces around heating systems
    - never determine if kitchen or bathroom vent fans exhaust to the exterior of the house
    - and never comment on suspected asbestos

    This is a pretty darn expensive list of things that I as a NAHI inspector don't have to do. Take a look at your SOPs some time guys if you haven't done so in a while. It's an eye opener when you look at all the things you are not required to do. And how am I supposed to test a furnace for operability if I'm not required to operate a digital-type thermostat because doing so is outside the scope of my SOPs and will open me to further liability? It seems to me sticking to the standards will get you in more hot water than exceeding them. I have yet to receive a complaint from any of my clients in 7 years for exceeding their expectations and my SOPs.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 03-20-2010 at 09:13 AM.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Markus,
    In all of the asbestos inspecting and testing I have done, I have never found a 9x9 floor tile that was not asbestos. I have found several 12x12 that also had asbestos in them.
    Nick,
    While I agree with you about just following the SOP will make a very limited inspection, I don't agree with some of your examples.
    I'm talking about ASHI and State of TN SOP's here....

    While it is true that we do not have to enter places (attics and crawlspaces) where we feel we might be at risk, we do have to give the reason why we didn't do something. IN other words, it would have to "fly".

    Thermal windows are a much debated inspection item, as to just how important they are, and if they represent a significant defect. Since we are required to inspect a representative number of doors and windows, one could argue that looking for broken seals is included in the "inspection" part.

    We are required to inspect the garage doors and openers. If the door has sensors, we would be required to check the operation of the sensors as well.

    Digital thermostats? How else would you inspect the HVAC system?

    Never test a gas fireplace? If the pilot is lit, I see no reason why tyhey would not be inspected.

    Clearance at vents? That's part of inspecting the vent, ands that is required in the SOP.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Talking about it opens the door that you are looking for it.... why would you give a client a contract and SOPs that state you aren't looking for something and then tell them you found it?

    To show that you were not "blind" to what is obviously around you.

    NOT reporting it can be taken as indicating "WHAT ELSE DID YOU MISS if you were so blind as to NOT SEE that stuff?", no home inspector should intentionally go down that path and think they are protected because "I was not required to look" for it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I didn't pull that stuff out of thin air Jack. Aside from the asbestos, I pulled all those examples straight from the NAHI SOPs. If you check out the NAHI website and review the SOPs for things that the inspector is not required to do, you'll see those things do actually appear. Better yet, here's a link for easy viewing. http://www.nahi.org/web-nahi-standards-of-practice.pdf

    These NAHI SOPs are pretty weak. If I went out of my way to stick to these standards and tailor my inspection and report around them, I couldn't see myself getting any referral work from past clients. And I'd likely get a lot of complaints and lawsuits.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 03-20-2010 at 02:57 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Take a look at your SOPs some time guys if you haven't done so in a while. It's an eye opener when you look at all the things you are not required to do.

    Nick,

    Back in the early-to-mid 1990s I complied a check list inspection sheet of exactly what the ASHI SoP *REQUIRED* an ASHI inspector to *DESCRIBE* (which means that everything else was *NOT required* to be described, i.e., was not required to be in the report). That check list inspection sheet was ONE PAGE!

    Yes, the REQUIRED things I had to inspect and describe according to the ASHI SoP all fit on ONE PAGE, and not even a legal size page, a standard 8-1/2" by 11" page - granted, the list filled that page, but it was still just one page.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    I have to pretty much agree with you Jack. Every 9x9 I've seen, checked out, had tested, etc has been asbestos. It wasn't until coming to IN that I even heard that there might be 9x9 that aren't A. I know is it or isn't it asbestos discussion has come up on IN in the past but I don't recall who was saying there were 9x9 that may not be A.
    Jerry most likely,

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    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Nick,

    Back in the early-to-mid 1990s I complied a check list inspection sheet of exactly what the ASHI SoP *REQUIRED* an ASHI inspector to *DESCRIBE* (which means that everything else was *NOT required* to be described, i.e., was not required to be in the report). That check list inspection sheet was ONE PAGE!

    Yes, the REQUIRED things I had to inspect and describe according to the ASHI SoP all fit on ONE PAGE, and not even a legal size page, a standard 8-1/2" by 11" page - granted, the list filled that page, but it was still just one page.
    I am guessing things have changed for the better with ASHIs SOPs Jerry.

    SOPs are to home inspectors what codes are to builders........the bare minimum you have to do to get by.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I am guessing things have changed for the better with ASHIs SOPs Jerry.

    SOPs are to home inspectors what codes are to builders........the bare minimum you have to do to get by.
    Agreed on that last part.

    Taken from the current ASHI web page just minutes ago:
    - 4. EXTERIOR
    - - 4.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - B. describe:
    - - - - 1. siding.
    - 5. ROOFING
    - - 5.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - B. describe:
    - - - - 1. roofing materials.
    - - - - 2. methods used to inspect the roofing.
    - 6. PLUMBING
    - - 6.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - B. describe:
    - - - - 1. water supply, drain, waste, and vent piping materials.
    - - - - 2. water heating equipment including energy source(s).
    - - - - 3. location of main water and fuel shut-off valves.
    - 7. ELECTRICAL
    - - 7.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - B. describe:
    - - - - 1. amperage and voltage rating of the service.
    - - - - 2. location of main disconnect(s) and sub panels.
    - - - - 3. presence of solid conductor aluminum branch circuit wiring.
    - - - - 4. presence or absence of smoke detectors.
    - - - - 5. wiring methods.
    - 8. HEATING
    - - 8.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - C. describe:
    - - - - 1. energy source(s).
    - - - - 2. heating systems.
    - 9. AIR CONDITIONING
    - - 9.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - C. describe:
    - - - - 1. energy source(s).
    - - - - 2. cooling systems.
    - 10. INTERIORS
    - 11. INSULATION & VENTILATION
    - 12. FIREPLACES AND SOLID FUEL BURNING APPLIANCES
    - - 12.1 The inspector shall:
    - - - B. describe:
    - - - - 1. fireplaces and solid fuel burning appliances.
    - - - - 2. chimneys.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  28. #28

    Default Re: Asbestos, how do you report it?

    We have found in our area Bay area of Calif, that asbestos was found in so called pop corn ceilings and other insulated piping in later years such as the 1990s +/- I think some contractors had some left over?? and used them anyhow! I got used of saying it appears to be some (!!!!!) and I recommend that an applicable contractor evlauate and advise on this. To save my sole!

    I suppose lead paint was laying around also (be carefuLLLL)


    FYI only


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