If your realtor is thorough as you arrange for a home inspection, you will be asked if you want a radon test on the property you are buying. The general response is: “Why should I pay for a radon test as a part of my due diligence before buying a home?”
I understand the reason for the question. When buying a home, you are hit with all kinds of costs that seem endless. You need to take into account realtor fees, taxes, HOA fees, insurance, mover charges….the list goes on and on. On top of these charges, you are asked to pay for a home inspector to look beyond the cosmetic appeal that attracted you to the property so you can get some understanding about the condition of the home you want to move into. Saving a little money here and there feels better than handing out all that cash. Radon testing would seem to be an easy item to trim from the budget, wouldn’t it?
Greenville county has the highest reported readings of radon in South Carolina. Even so, not all areas have elevated readings and, in the areas that are high, not all homes will be higher than the 4.0 PicoCuries per Liter benchmark. What adds to the perplexing nature of radon is that a home which tested low last year may test high today! (The earth’s mantle is always shifting and, as the ground shifts, new pathways develop for radon to work its way to the surface.) A test conducted in the process of buying a home can let you know if radon levels are safe at the time of the sale. If the readings are elevated, the seller will need to install a mitigation system or risk losing the sale. If the readings are below 4.0 PicoCuries per Liter, then the home environment should be safe for you and your family.
So, again the question: why pay for a radon test if radon levels are not consistently high in the area? I believe this is what it comes down to: You pay for a test; If levels are elevated, mitigation costs run from $1000-$2000, which the seller will need to either compensate for or mitigate; if levels are low, you get the peace of mind that you are moving into a home that does NOT have elevated risks for developing lung cancer. One the other hand, if you do not conduct a radon test, but choose to use an at-home test after the sale (or before you sell the house at some point) and the levels are elevated, YOU will be the one to pay for radon mitigation. The radon test is, at its most basic, insurance to protect yourself from potential future costs.
Schillerstrom Home Inspection can provide radon testing for you. The test equipment runs for 48 hours, taking air/radon samples every hour. I charge $125 for the test, which helps defray the costs for the test equipment, semi-annual calibration and cross-check testing as well as the services of a quality control company I use to ensure the readings I measure are as accurate as possible. The fee also takes into account the time and travel costs for set-up/retrieval of the test unit.
For the safety of your family and potential cost-savings in the future, it is a good idea to spend a little extra for a radon test when buying a home.