Making your house purchase your HOME.
What does it mean to you and your family if your new house is identified as being in a Radon Affected Area ?
As part of the conveyancing process a form (CON29R 2016) reviews the Local Authority search results regarding such things as highways (footpaths and roads), drainage and environmental aspects (ground contamination and Radon).
This blog is only referencing Radon.
The solicitor asks the questions of the Local Authority and the report basically states if the property is, or is not, in a Radon Affected Area (RAA) as defined by PHE. They generally go on to point purchasers to the PHE website to carry out measurement.
To paraphrase, the BBC, other websites are available.
Check out our shop page (https://www.rpmatters.co.uk/shop) for further details. Compare prices and products.
So what if you decide not to measure, what's the problem?
As you cannot see, taste or smell Radon you cannot tell how severe a problem you may have. So you are putting an increase risk of lung cancer on you and your family. The longer a person is inside the house with elevated Radon levels, the greater the risk. Smoking in homes with elevated Radon has a dramatic, multiplicative increase in the risk.
Also selling your home at a later date can be delayed or subjected to a Radon Bond.
It makes more sense to measure than not to (including financially) .
Firstly, by knowing the actual Radon level in the property you are better placed to reduce/remove that additional risk.
Secondly, if the property needs to be mitigated it could be viewed as a positive when you come to sell the property on; we'll come back to this point later.
You are probably thinking with all the other costs of buying a house why make it more expensive? Well measuring is not that expensive and if you contact firstname.lastname@example.org, reference this blog, you can recieve a 10% discount, making it even more of a bargain.
But ensure you measure the right thing in the right way.
Short duration measurements (10 day) can only ever give you an indication of the Radon Level. We use Rapidos detectors from Radonova for indicative measurements. In addition to being validated to produce reports in accordance with PHE procedures, they are also ISO 1750 accredited and enable reports to be sent directy to you electronically.
Rapidos can provide an indicative result after as little as ten days in place. It allows for the identification of grossly contaminated properties.
BUT long-term (3 month) testing is the recommended duration to correctly determine if mitigation should be installed.
Why long-term? Because it reduces the variation in Radon levels that can be casued by the airfow and seasonal factors in a home as it is being "used".
PLEASE, don't bother measuring a property you are looking to purchase, that is sealed up and not occupied. In a Radon Affected Area your are more than likley to obtain a "high" reading which could lead you to mitigating unnecessarily. Save your money and do it correctly. Measure when the property is occupied.
What about New Build?
If a New Build property is in a RAA the construction company is required to put in different levels of mitigation, depending on the Radon potential.
This can be, for example, a non-permeable Radon membrane or a sub-slab sump. However, this does not gaurantee the properties shall be clear of elevated Radon gas.
The non-permeable membranes need to be efficiently installed, sealing around services and not damaged. Something that is extremly difficult to achieve on a working site when the walls go up after the foundation and membrane have been laid.
I have also made aware, from the site manager of a 5,500 properties, 500 acre site in the South West (one of the known highest potetial area in the UK), that it was determined no mitigation was necessary in the properties. This was because the results from the two detectors (placed on the ground, under an upturned bucket, one at either end of the site!!) was not elevated! So be careful with any new build.
Always test in a new build. The building gaurantee should cover any mitigation requirements.
Let's take a step back for the moment.
You have received the report from the solicitor showing the property is in a RAA. So you decide to measure. NOW is the time to seek for a Radon Bond (retention) to be raised.
Your solicitor should be familiar with the concept and be able to arrange this simply and quickly.
A Radon Bond is an amount of money that is held back from the purchase price of the house until such time as the need for mitigation has been shown to be unnecessary or, if installed, proven to be effective.
There cannot be any strict banding on the size of a Radon Bond as the means of mitigation needs to take account of how far above the recommended action level (200 Bq/m3) the Radon is measured and the actual building construction method.
But it can range from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pound retained for up to six months.
Now I'll explain why a mitigated home is a good thing.
Taking the scenario that you have completed the correct measurement and had the correct mitigation system, correctly installed (I make no apologies for repeating that things must be correct), you now own a property, a home, that is much safer than someone who takes the view that as you can't see it (taste it or feel it) it can't be a problem.
You now have a home that, provided you maintain the system (and why should you not as you have invested in it), it is also a safer environment for the next purchaser.
If you are buying a property with mitigation system installed you have indication that the occupants have taken care of the home.
I know if I were to have the option of two properties and one was mitigated whilst the other was not, I would be leaning strongly in favour of the mitigated home. If the Radon levels are measured and and found to be above the Action Level it should not be too onerous to resolve. But it is more likely that a mitigate home is below the Action Level.
In all cases, enjoy your new home.
Consider the Radon levels at work.