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  1. #1
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    Default A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    This one was a first for me.

    Recently I was hired to perform a post-mitigation radon test for a buyer. A previous radon test showed a radon level of 15 pCi/L and the seller agreed to install a mitigation system. The house is a tri-level with about half of the footprint on a crawlspace and the other half on a slab. The mitigator installed a sub-membrane system in the crawlspace and the buyer, not being familiar with this kind of system, wanted proof that the mitigation system was really working before he closed on the house.

    The buyer hired me because with my devices (E-PERMS) I am able to give him results very shortly after completing the test. I started the test late on a Monday afternoon (a couple of hours after he called me) and arranged to retrieve my devices 48 hours later. That way the buyer could have his report in plenty of time before his Thursday morning closing.

    While we were at the house I explained to the buyer how the mitigation system works and showed him the indicator gauge and how to read it as well as the fan and discharge point outside. Everything looked fine with the mitigation system. The buyer was concerned that the mitigation system might not be effective because it was only "mitigating" half the house.

    The house was vacant and before leaving I left notices at the test location and on the front door. ("Radon test in progress. Do not tamper. Keep doors and windows closed. etc.")

    When we met to retrieve my devices on Wednesday I observed that my notice on the front door was missing (indicating someone may have entered the house during the interim). When we opened the door my notice was lying on the floor just inside the door. No big deal. Realtors and sellers do that all the time.

    We made our way to the basement where I was conducting the radon test and I took a glance at the radon mitigation system gauge just to make sure it was still running. I was shocked to see it pegged on zero. I immediately told the buyer his test was invalid because the mitigation system had been shut off sometime during the test.

    We were having trouble getting some of the basement lights to come on (some worked and others didn't) so I sent the buyer up to check the main panel in the garage to see if some of the breakers had tripped or had been flipped off. He came back to tell me the panel was gone and a new one was partially installed. (The new panel was hot but only a few of the circuits were wired. The circuit for the mitigation system fan was not one of them.)

    So, completely ignoring my notice not to interfere with the radon test, the electrician shut down the mitigation system so he could do his work. I can also assume - because the afternoon high was upwards of 90 degrees - that the electrician worked with the garage door open for ventilation and light - reason enough to invalidate the radon test.

    The buyer had no idea the seller was going to replace the main panel. He told me that his home inspector discovered the air conditioning system was installed a couple of years ago without a permit so he asked the seller to get the A/C system permitted and signed off. I can only assume that when the building inspector came to inspect the installation he found something he didn't like and required repairs that led to replacing the entire panel. So much for saving money by not buying that permit.

    The buyer was now left in a bind because 1) he did not know if the mitigation system was working properly and 2) there was not enough time to do another radon test before his closing the next morning. I told him I would not charge him for this test because the actions that invalidated the test were not his fault. I told him that I would process my devices and give him a report for an invalid test.

    Interestingly, the measured radon level was 0.9 pCi/L (compared to 15 pCi/L originally). I told the buyer that it appears the mitigation system had brought down the radon levels in the house but, without knowing how long the mitigation system had been off, I did not know how much of the reduction could be attrributed to the mitigation system and how much was due to the garage door being open.

    I guess now I need to modify my radon test instructions and agreement so this doesn't happen again. ("Do not remove main electric panel during radon test.")

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    If it does not put the buyer in a bind, that (what happened) is sufficient reason to restart the radon test and delay closing - with no penalty from the seller ... they caused the mess.

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

  3. #3
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    If I were the electrician and someone set a a schedule for me to come and replace a panel and a happy little home inspector says "stop, go no further, leave power on, do not open doors."

    Sorry, my day scheduled in, Radon has to wait. Let me see. Put off installing a new 1200 plus panel and have nothing for that electrician or 2 to do for the day. Hmmmm

    Inspector has to wait.

    Thats pretty simple


  4. #4
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    Connecticut
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    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    Best advice is to hold back 1200 at closing until a proper controlled test can be done after closing by the new buyer. Easy right?, Yeah right!!80 % of all Radon tests are compromised in some way that we would never know. I can't tell you how many finger prints I have found on my electrets.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    That is the same mentality that many subcontractors use in construction. A floor joist is in the way of the plumber's drainpipe? Cut it. A beam is in the path where the HVAC guy wants to run his duct. Notch it, cut it. It's in my way. My work is more important than anybody else's work and my time is more valuable than anybody else's time.

    My notice on the front door has my name and phone number so anyone with a question or a concern can call me. The electrician did not even have the courtesy to call me. Why am I not surprised?

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  6. #6
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    From Mr Jerry

    "If it does not put the buyer in a bind, that (what happened) is sufficient reason to restart the radon test and delay closing - with no penalty from the seller ... they caused the mess."

    In a nice way I was trying to say what Jerry said. The seller screwed up and in reality should pay you for your extra time. Also in reality if the electrician called you you still would have been pissed because if he did call it would have been "sorry Bud, gotta do my work"

    If I had a hundred dollars for every-time something toward similar of that I could probably retire now instead of later.

    Think about the plumber cutting a floor joist out of the way because there is no way of putting the plumbing in with it there. He came to do a job. The builder did not allow for plumbing. The plumber had his schedule for the day. He could do 2 things. Go fishing and blow the day or cut the floor joist out of the way and let the builder deal with it because he should have allowed for it anyway.

    And life goes on.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Think about the plumber cutting a floor joist out of the way because there is no way of putting the plumbing in with it there. He came to do a job. The builder did not allow for plumbing. The plumber had his schedule for the day. He could do 2 things. Go fishing and blow the day or cut the floor joist out of the way and let the builder deal with it because he should have allowed for it anyway.

    "or cut the floor joist out of the way and let the builder deal with it because he should have allowed for it anyway"

    ONLY AFTER first contacting the builder and getting the builder's okay to cut it.

    *IF* the plumber cuts it without permission, *IT IS THEIR COST* to correct it.

    Once the plumber notifies the builder and the builder say to cut away to your hearts content, so be it, the builder takes full responsibility and liability ... but only if it is in writing.

    A good contractor knows "get it in writing". As that plumber, would you rather "go fishing" and come back and do the work another day, or, pay to have those TJI repaired?

    When viewed that way, I think "go fishing" sounds like the most reasonable way out ($$$-wise).

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

  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    Gees. Now we are all getting out of control. You folks just don't know how to read between the lines.

    It is not a perfect world. Sh_t happens. I will never stop happening. Just gotta deal with it at it comes along.

    In case you folks don't recall from previous posts. I am a home inspector and have been for years. I also built, remodelled, had a commercial metal framing and drywall business, found and remodelled homes for investors. I guess you can say in my 54 years I have about seen and done and have had done to me, just about everything.

    I understand everyone's side and everyone has a side, some good sides, some bad sides.

    I have learned to have a serious amount of patience and understanding. When I see that a plumber has cut something out I smile, handle it and fix it (or write it up as an inspector). If an electrician has his day scheduled and has no other appointments set up and looks at a sign saying stop, well, like I said if he called you he was still going to go in.

    Relax Gentlemen, especially you, you old fart Jerry P. I am sure there is about nothing you have not seen as well. Life is to short. Smile, take a breath, smile some more.

    This world has become so, how do you say, get everything in writing, don't shake his hand and honor his word, protect yourself from getting sued, have an attorney deal with that and send a letter, he is only going to screw you anyway, their all out to get you, did I say that they are all out to get you (Sorry Gunnar).

    I read every post that is posted on here and have for months. Go back and read some. Even the home inspectors say the lawyer and legal words so much its crazy sometimes.

    Be calm, kick back, mix yourself a good margarita, have a smoke if you have some.

    You will find in a past post from a wise older Gentleman from California in the past few days. Live life, enjoy life, you are going to be much older before you know it and smile, smile, smile. (maybe not those exact words)

    Oh yeah, A little trim up on that joist, a double header, all done, the job keeps flowing


  9. #9
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    Default Re: A Novel Way To Invalidate A Radon Test

    Ted,

    I operated on hand shakes for a long time, then, something changed ... contracts came to be the end-all of disagreements, no more 'we can work this out to th satisfaction of both parties'.

    The owner of the engineering firm I work for the last couple of years (after moving up here and now going out on my own) 'worked on a hand shake' which was backed up by a contract. When the construction market changed (the real estate market, the credit market, whatever you want to call it), parties who had large $$$ invested in project began to cut back and save as many of those dollars as they could, asking for more, much more, than had been agreed upon, both by the hand shake and by the contract. If the contract was not worded as carefully as it should have been, then more work than was agreed upon was *demanded*, and given, because the hand shake fell apart, dropping back to the contractual language.

    In good times, good times and good feelings prevail, and hand shakes work.

    In less than good times, like these, it all boils down to the contractual language - 'you are required to do this and this and this', however, it also states 'I am not required to do this and this and this'. Depends on who's attorney was most on the ball with the wording.

    Yes, it is indicative of the sad times these are turning into.

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

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