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Vermiculite: How it can affect health and resale of your home

Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of products including insulation. Vermiculite mined from the Libby Mine in Montana between 1920 and 1990 is known to contain asbestos, which can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma in people who are exposed to airborne particles.

 

Vermiculite was one of a number of loose fill insulation products approved for installation under the Canadian Home Insulation Program (CHIP) that provided grants to home owners who improved energy efficiency in their property between 1977 and 1984. Health Canada believes that vermiculite was installed in approximately 250,000 Canadian homes during that time. There is no information available as to where vermiculite use was most common but I can tell you that I have run across Saskatoon homes containing vermiculite insulation a number of times during my real estate career.

 

Health Canada’s position is this; “If vermiculite-based insulation is contained and not exposed to the home or interior environment, it poses very little risk.” Perhaps this provides some comfort to homeowners who have vermiculite insulation in their home, but in my own experience, the presence of asbestos is a growing concern for home buyers. Asbestos which is contained and undisturbed may never cause you or others in your home health problems but there is some significant likelihood that it could cause problems in completing a home sale when you’re ready to move. Some home buyers may be totally disinterested in purchasing a home that contains such a potentially toxic substance insisting that it be remediated as a condition of the sale, or they may walk away from the deal all together once they know.

 

It’s important to note that not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos. If you suspect that you may have vermiculite insulation in your home you should avoid disturbing it. Contact a qualified expert for assistance in obtaining a sample for testing. In Saskatoon, Pillar to Post Home Inspections is qualified to gather samples and they can submit them to a lab on your behalf for testing. Testing costs can vary from one day to the next, but generally, a range of $150-$200 is what you should expect to pay for the service. If vermiculite is present in your home and it does not contain asbestos, a lab report will be helpful in eliminating the concern that potential buyers for your home may have when you’re ready to sell. If it does contain asbestos, you can decide to remediate now, begin saving for an eventual remediation, or you can choose to leave it and deal with it at the time of sale. Remember though, leaving it until that late stage almost certainly raises significant concerns for your prospective buyer and could derail your sale.

 

One should probably consider that knowing your home contains asbestos might require you to disclose its presence when you offer the home for sale. The Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PCDS), which is not mandatory for home sellers, but is commonly used in Saskatchewan, has the following question. “To the best of your knowledge does the dwelling contain asbestos or urea formaldehyde insulation?” If you know asbestos exists, you are legally required to answer this question in the affirmative, if you choose to utilize the form. Home buyers are often suspicious of sellers who refuse to complete a PCDS. Even if you choose not to use the form a buyer could argue that disclosure is required based on the potential health implications of asbestos. In any case, professional home inspections are so common that it’s doubtful that vermiculite in your home could escape scrutiny when selling.

 

Norm Fisher

Royal LePage Vidorra

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Norm Fisher, Author of the TeamFisher Saskatoon Real Estate Blog

About Norm

Licensed in 1993, Norm brings a wealth of experience to TeamFisher. He has worked in every imaginable capacity including sales agent, office manager, team leader, broker and now, broker/owner. Norm has written a weekly review of the Saskatoon real estate market for more than 650 consecutive weeks which may make him the most consistent industry blogger in the world.Less...

Licensed in 1993, Norm brings a wealth of experience to TeamFisher. He has worked in every imaginable capacity including sales agent, office manager, team leader, broker and now, broker/owner. Norm has written a weekly review of the Saskatoon real estate market for more than 650 consecutive weeks which may make him the most consistent industry blogger in the world.

Norm is known for his passion for technology and can most often be found exploring and experimenting with the next big thing in real estate marketing. He was the first Saskatoon real estate agent to promote a home online and has been an early adopter of new technologies ever since. “Everything about this business has changed over the past 20 years, and it will happen again in the next ten. An open mind and a curious attitude are all that’s needed to continue to find new ways to serve our clients by delivering a faster, smoother, worry-free transaction,” says Norm.

In his spare time, Norm enjoys Crossfit and cycling, some years accumulating over 2,000 kilometres on the road. He’s a strong supporter of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and enjoys raising funds by joining fun, fitness-related initiatives like the Grouse Grind for Shelter. In 2015, he trekked the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu. In 2017 he walked the southern highlands of Iceland across mountains, sand, snow, ice, lava fields and forest for seven days. Collectively those initiatives raised over a million dollars for Canadian women's shelters.
 

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