Tom Miller, CCIM
Top Two Environmental Concerns When Buying an Older Building
This is one of the most common concerns with older industrial buildings. Generally, the assumption is that all asbestos must immediately be removed, no matter how substantial the costs or how great the inconvenience. That is not always true. What is prudent, however, is to identify areas that contain asbestos. This can be easily accomplished with a qualified inspection (and an experienced industrial real estate agent will be happy to make a recommendation). Be very clear that there is no absolute obligation to remove all building materials containing asbestos. In many instances, it’s possible – and far more practical – to retain such building materials that are located in sound condition as long as no fibers from the material might become airborne or “friable.” This is because in its solid state, asbestos does not pose any known health problems.
The next common environmental item more commonly located in older buildings is mold. Typically, prospective buyers will direct their attention to testing the air quality. But this is merely a symptom of a larger issue. A smarter decision is to investigate the cause of the wet condition that prompted mold in the first place. Until the cause of the wet condition is cured, mold will only return. After the source of the wet condition is located (leaking roof, walls, windows, pipes, malfunctioning HVAC systems, etc.) and repaired, attention can then be directed to the existing mold condition and elimination procedures can be considered. These treatments can vary widely and the extent of the contamination will dictate the extent of the remediation required.
While either of these environmental issues should be cause for concern, neither is uncommon – nor should be considered deal breakers if adequate professional attention is given to the matter. Your real estate professional should be the source for more information and recommendations for services that can provide inspections and reporting.