Radon & Real Estate: Contracts, Closing Dates and More

The home buying and selling process is moving at a rapid pace. Houses are flying off the market in Middle Tennessee; many buyers and sellers are eager to close as quickly as possible. The demands of Increasingly tight closing deadlines can make completing repair request updates to the home difficult. 


About 85% of my business is directly related to real estate transactions. After a buyer’s offer is accepted, Radon testing occurs during the inspection period. The completed test will either read as “pass” or “fail.” It is typically in the event of a failed test that The Radon Guy comes in. When a test fails, a radon mitigation system is more often than not installed. Once a system is in place, the home is retested and usually passes without any trouble. 


There is no “safe” radon level, just below what the EPA considers at the actionable level. We strive to reduce radon levels in your home as much as possible. However, we do not recommend spending substantial sums on mitigation if you have an average indoor reading of 0.8 picocuries per liter of air, known as or pCi. Average outdoor levels are 0.4 pCi/L, a negligible difference.


The Typical Radon Mitigation Job 


Errors are not an option when working on a tight closing deadline. The typical radon mitigation job takes one to two visits to the home. The first visit consists of performing diagnostics and gathering information, and giving an estimate.


We spend the second visit performing repairs or installing a system. At this time, we also start retesting process. Including the turnaround on retesting, the typical mitigation process takes about a week. 


The Typical Job Timeline

  1. Call to book as soon as possible! (It is not unusual for us to be booked out 2-3 weeks, especially in times of peak sales)
  2. Visit the home for diagnostics and estimates. If testing has not occurred, we drop off a test. Radon testing takes 48 hours. 
  3. Installation, mitigation, or repair occurs. We start the retesting process (another 48 hours)!
  4. You get a pass! Things are good to go! 


To ensure a smooth closing, both parties should allow ample time for the completion of contingent work. Scheduling mitigation or repair work as soon as possible after receiving a failed test is a seller’s best shot at avoiding snags in closing. During initial phone calls, sellers frequently ask me if a system can be installed and retested in an almost impossible deadline. From the start, this creates a problem for all parties involved. It is not unusual for us to be booked out 2-3 weeks at any given time, so setting up the appointment as soon as possible is essential. 


The Atypical Radon Mitigation Job

Every so often, we complete steps 1-3, and levels still come back as a “fail.” If you find yourself in this situation, you may be asking:


Can this even be fixed?

What’s the holdup?

Can this be corrected in time to meet the demands for the short repair period?

Will this cost me more money? 


These are some of the questions I hope to clarify below!


Can this even be fixed? 

Yes! We will find a way to mitigate your home. There has yet to be a home I haven’t been able to diagnose and mitigate properly. In these instances, it usually takes a little detective work and a bit of extra time. We can employ several different strategies, including (but not limited to): 

  • Adding a second suction point to your system. 
  • Balancing airflow.
  • Accessing a block foundation wall.
  • Trading out the fan for a different model.


Determining the source of elevated levels after mitigation installations can be difficult. Still, I have some time and money-saving tricks and tools up my sleeve, including the radon sniffer, manometer, and smoke pen. 


The issue, particularly as it relates to closing deadlines, can be that this process takes time. Time to schedule, complete the necessary work, and retest. Worst case scenario, we’re looking at weeks rather than days. Typically, the biggest problem for me and other mitigation companies is having the retest documentation ready in time for closing.


What’s the holdup?


Homes that are more likely to have difficulties with mitigation are those with finished out basements, inaccessible crawl spaces or crawl spaces without working room, and those with dirt under the slab rather than gravel or another capillary layer. 


When a home has a finished basement, it can be challenging to diagnose. It is more challenging to access areas where the radon suction point would be most effective. Of course, we want to take care when deciding where to drill in access in a finished basement. Measure twice, cut once! 


For homes with inaccessible or tight crawl spaces, access is frankly more difficult. Completing the work will take a bit more time and careful planning.


Dirt under the slab can be problematic for many reasons. Packed, tight soil does not allow for optimal airflow. I can, and have, written at length about why what’s under your slab matters. 


Can this be corrected in time to meet the demands of the short repair period?

This one is tricky: the answer depends largely upon the scale of the problem and our availability at the time. Still, this doesn’t necessarily spell closing delays! 


I make sure my clients understand that I honor my warranty regardless of who owns the home, including parts and labor costs. Once installed, the mitigation system becomes part of the property. Suppose I install a system in the seller’s home. If the new owners have high radon levels at any point in time after closing, I am responsible for correcting the factor causing the system to fail. Having a warranty in place can prevent outstanding work from interfering with the closing deadline. 


For homes that need a system installed, the buyer and seller can negotiate the allocation of funds for radon mitigation. The title company can then hold funds for work to be completed after closing. 


After the keys switch hands, we will then work with the new homeowners to find a responsible mitigation technique that suits their needs.


In many instances, this is the best-case scenario for all parties. It is preferable to the sellers because it is one less thing to worry about messing up the deal. It is also advantageous for the buyers to deal with us directly, as they have more input on the mitigation process.


For most homes, there are numerous options regarding where and how we can install the system. Delaying mitigation until after closing enables us to have a conversation with the new owners and help guide their decision-making process. 


In conclusion, knowing that no house is beyond repair and that our warranty on repairs extends years after closing, moving ahead with the sale and agreeing to continue work after the buyers take possession can be the best course of action. 


I hope this clarifies some things! Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions. Happy home buying and selling!


I’ll explain diagnostic techniques and unusual mitigation strategies in a future post!


Written by Erika DeVerter on behalf of The Radon Guys