You've found that perfect house. Everything about it is right until you learn that the shingles on that new house you can't wait to bid on are asbestos shingles. Cue record scratch. Can't you die from asbestos? Perfect house ruined.
Fear not. Asbestos shingles are completely harmless as long as the asbestos cement is encapsulated. Only when shingles crumble and the fibers become airborne do they pose a health hazard. This is called 'friable'. Asbestos shingles are no longer installed on roofs as they were banned in the late 1980s for health safety reasons. That being said, the asbestos shingles may be in a great shape and pose no threat your family's health. Having your home inspector verify their condition will give you peace of mind before deciding to place an offer.
You may find out the shingles are in great shape but you still want them gone. What then? Laws on handling asbestos vary by state and as long as you follow the state regulations, you will be safe. Protective suiting and masks keep whoever is removing the shingles safe from any potential asbestos dust that may be released during the process and every piece is bagged for proper disposal. Be aware going into the process that it is not a quick fix, nor will it be cheap. Finding a professional abatement company will ensure your safety but some states allow the homeowner to complete the work themselves.
Know that if you decide to purchase the home and have an abatement company do the removal and someday sell the home yourself, you must disclose to the new buyer that you once had asbestos on your home. If you hire a professional abatement company, they will give you a certificate showing proper removal and will most likely give you the peace of mind you're looking for.
If you know without a doubt you want to remove the shingles before moving into the home, ask for an adjustment on the purchase price from the seller. While you can't expect them to concede if the roof is in satisfactory shape, it never hurts to ask, especially since you're assuming the risk of a potentially hazardous product.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/BanksPhotos Removal of shingles.