When you find a home that you're interested in buying, the next step you should take is to have the home inspected. A home inspector will look over the house's foundation, roof, walls, and other major structures. They will also offer an array of add-on services, one of which will be radon testing. Some home buyers elect to skip this testing since the fact that it comes at an extra fee makes it seem less important. However, it is always worth your while to pay for radon testing. Here are some reasons why.
Radon exposure is associated with cancer.
If you read a lot of news articles, it may seem like anything and everything can give you cancer these days. However, while some claims of "this can cause cancer!" may be over-hyped headlines intended to scare you, the associations between radon and cancer are well-researched and well-established. They should most certainly be taken seriously.
According to the National Cancer Institute, long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. Specifically, it increases your risk of cancer in the cells that line your lungs. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States—tobacco is the first leading cause. It's definitely worth paying for radon testing if it means protecting yourself against lung cancer.
Radon usually comes from outside of the home.
Some homeowners reason that since a home is new or was constructed by a reputable building company, it must be free from radon and there's no reason to test. However, radon actually has little to do with the structure of the home itself and more to do with the soil the home is built on. If the soil beneath the home gives off a lot of radon, you're likely to have higher levels of radon in the home—even if it was carefully built.
The only real way to know whether a home has elevated radon levels is to have it tested. There's no way to tell by examining the walls, floors, ceilings, or other structures.
Ridding a home of radon can be very costly.
If you wait until after you buy the home and then find out it has increased radon levels, you'll probably regret your home purchase. That's because the changes you'll need to make to keep radon out of the home are costly and extensive. Any small cracks in the foundation will need to be sealed, and you may need to have your basement walls covered in a special layer of gas-proof lining.
Even with these modifications, your radon levels may still remain too high to be safe. So, by testing the home before you buy, you give yourself the chance to say "no" to what could be a money pit.
If you do find that the home has high radon levels, you could get a great deal.
If you are a contractor or have resources at your disposal to make it easier or more affordable to rehab a home with high radon levels, then finding out that a home has high levels may not deter you from purchasing it. However, it may enable you to get a far better deal on your purchase. If the test comes back positive, the seller will likely have a harder time finding a buyer. You can offer them a lot less for the home and they're more likely to accept your offer.
To learn more about radon testing and its importance, talk to an inspector who offers services for radon testing. They can give you a better idea of how much this service will cost and what to expect.