Q. We are buying a foreclosed home from a bank, and the home inspection is scheduled for next week. Our Realtor says the bank is not willing to turn on the gas for the inspection, and she seems to think we should accept this refusal. Is it really OK to do a home inspection without gas service?
A. If your agent is truly representing your interests, she should make every effort to have the gas turned on prior to the home inspection. She may even be able to have the gas turned on temporarily in her company's name, but if not, she should insist that the seller cooperate with this reasonable request.
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If the gas is turned off during the home inspection, vital aspects of the inspection will have to be overlooked. These can include, but are not limited to:
• Functional condition of the furnace
• Functional condition of the water heater
• Functional condition of the cooking appliances
• Functional condition of gas fixtures in fireplaces
• Checking for possible gas leaks
Buying a home without these conditions being checked by your home inspector is risky and should be a matter of concern to you, as well as to your agent. A home inspection without gas service is an incomplete inspection. The result could be that you find costly, undisclosed problems after the close of escrow.
A Realtor with experience and good judgment should not advise a buyer to accept these conditions from a seller, even if the seller is a bank. The purpose of a home inspection is to know what your are buying before you buy it. The working condition of gas-burning fixtures involves issues of safety and potentially high costs. Ensuring that the gas fixtures are included in the home inspection is essential, and you should insist on it.
Q. We had a fire in our home last year and were able to move back in only two months ago. Before the fire, the home had asbestos ceilings, but this has all been removed, except upstairs where there was no fire damage. Since moving in, we keep finding powdery white specks on the floor and are wondering if we have an asbestos problem that could affect our health. What should we do?
A. The powdery substance may be residual ash coming from the forced air heating system, and this could contain asbestos from the old downstairs ceilings. You should report this immediately to your fire insurance carrier. They should have an asbestos inspector take samples of this residue and send them to an accredited environmental laboratory for analysis. The inspector should also take air samples to determine if there is any airborne asbestos in your home. If the samples contain asbestos, professional mitigation by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor should be done. If the samples do not contain asbestos, at least you'll know that there is no significant health concern.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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