What to Do When You Find Asbestos in a Flip

Wed Jun 12 2019

When you watch Flip or Flop, you see us deal with a lot of really gross and potentially dangerous issues with our flip houses. On one episode, we had a bathroom filled with black mold, and we had to evacuate the house and let the mold guys seal it off to get rid of the mold before anyone could be let back in. It was a nightmare, but in the end, it worked out for the best. After all, you can’t just let something like black mold go when you flip a house. And the same goes for asbestos.

Thanks to building codes and EPA rulings, newly constructed houses don’t pose any risk of having asbestos. Unfortunately, though, as a real estate investor, some of your best deals may be much older houses. So what do you do when you get surprised with asbestos in a flip?

Call the Professionals

First of all, asbestos is known to cause lung cancer and all kinds of other problems, so you don’t want to mess around with inhaling it or letting it get in contact with your skin and clothes. I’m not a big fan of handling asbestos removal duties on my own because I’ve already gone through cancer treatment, and it’s no fun at all. So, even if it eats into your rehab budget, I definitely recommend sparing your health and calling the pros.

Make Sure the Area Is Isolated

Depending on where your asbestos problem is, you may not have to shut down work on the rest of the rehabs in the house. As long as you can isolate the asbestos problem area and keep air from flowing out of it into the rest of the house, you should be able to keep going on other projects while the asbestos removal guys do their work.

Read Up on Proper Handling Procedures

In addition to letting the experts do their jobs, you may also need to do a few more things to protect yourself, your workers, and your neighbors. This largely depends on whether the asbestos removal needs to be done inside or outside the home and how it is removed. The Department of Health has a really handy “Do’s and Don’ts” page dedicated to handling asbestos materials. Unlike a lot of government websites, this one is written in plain English and gives you a pretty good idea of what you need to do to stay safe and healthy.

Stop Work If You Have To

If it’s not possible to safely remove the asbestos without exposing yourself and your contractors to hazardous materials, don’t hesitate to stop work on all other rehab projects. Just like our black mold experience, this is a bummer, but it’s not worth the risk to keep working if you can’t do it safely.

If you have other rehab projects pending or starting, put your contractors on them. If not, focus on gathering and following up on more leads on flip houses. This is one of those times that you have to step back and accept that there are some things you can’t change. House flipping is time sensitive, but you also have to be really adaptable to survive and thrive in this business.

If you take your contractor with you on walk-throughs, you can get a heads-up on a lot of issues like asbestos materials in flip houses. Remember, the more you know on the front end when you flip a house, the better prepared you’ll be for everything that pops up along the way.

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