Purchasing a home with vermiculite insulation

December 9th 2009
Purchasing a home with vermiculite insulation

Q. We are interested in buying a house that has vermiculite insulation in the attic. We requested that the sellers have it removed but instead they have agreed to lower the asking price of the house. I have discussed this with my realtor and home inspector but I would like another opinion to know if this is a major concern.

A. Vermiculite was commonly used as insulation in thousands of houses built up to the early 1990s. The concern is much of this vermiculite may have contained asbestos and could be a health hazard if disturbed and inhaled.

It is important for homeowners to understand that vermiculite insulation is only an issue if the vermiculite is disturbed and the asbestos becomes airborne. There is no real risk to the household if it is sealed behind walls or isolated in an attic.

However, Vermiculite insulation containing asbestos must be removed by qualified asbestos abatement contractors before any renovation that would impact the insulation. This service is available through restoration companies. The decision to have it removed really depends on whether you plan to demolish walls or perform major renovations. Consider this when you discuss with your realtor re negotiating the cost of remediation in the purchase price of the house.

Overall, if the insulation is left in place undisturbed there is no concern for the people living in the household. Further information is available at Health Canada

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