Thoughts on asbestos/lead testing

I have a client who is hung up on the portion of the inspection agreement stating that we won’t test for asbestos and lead paint. The home was built in 1967. I informed him that I will look for and point out areas of concern but I don’t specifically test for it and can’t guarantee anything about them on my report. What are y’all’s thoughts around home inspectors taking samples and what do you usually tell clients that are specifically worried about them? Any reading material I can share and should I offer to take samples to be sent off for testing?

Thanks in advance.

I would check your state regulations first. In Colorado it is against state regulations for anyone to perform any asbestos or lead testing without being state certified and technically you can’t even talk about the presence of non presence of asbestos without this certification. I tell my clients that by state regulation I am not allowed to test or even discuss with them anything dealing with asbestos or lead and direct them to the appropriate state office.


And you can still buy lead test kits at Sherwin Williams. Go figure…

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Call around to certified companies and get prices then mark it up a bit and tell your client the cost. I always tell them I don’t perform it but can facilitate if requested. The cost usually gets the client to reconsider. But if they still want to go ahead at least you can bring a sub on and make a little extra.


WHY do newbies think they have to be the “Be all and End all” of home inspectors?

Either you observe and test for those substances, or you don’t. Period.
The potential client don’t like it, he is free to find another inspector willing to charge for the service and liability!!


I appreciate this answer - I’m at that point struggling a little on when to let business potentially pass and when to cram a few courses before a scheduled inspection and that latter could eventually cost me a lot more if I make a mistake

The true difference between a 24+ year veteran inspector, and a 1-3 year unemployed ex-inspector, know your abilities and limitations!

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to ‘do it all’, just be sure to become the expert in what you already do before tackling another ‘side-hustle’!!

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Brian, figure out if there is enough demand for absestos/lead testing in your area and then make a decision if it’s worth offering the service.

PS: Ignore the grumpy comments, they usually come from [often] clueless, chest-pumping, know-it-all, depressed men :slight_smile:


They also sell asbestos test kits at home depot/ Lowe’s (at least where I’m from) $10 for the kit. Comes with bags and a prepaid envelope addressed to the lab. The lab charges $40 per sample.

AKA… ‘Homeowner Harry’ DIY kits!

Those “over the counter” kits are intended strictly for the homeowner. A home owner in residence with no rental space in the property can do pretty much what s/he wants to do. Those kits ARE NOT intended for other than the homeowner.


totally agree

After 22+ years in this biz, I don’t test for mold, asbestos, meth or lead. I tell clients that I am always looking for visual and olfactory evidence of these, but I think that this is one of those areas of a home inspection that a specialist is better than a generalist at actual testing for the presence of these things and here are the names of some companies that are experts at testing for these. As far as I know, I haven’t lost an inspection over this.


I report “possible” or “suspected” asbestos, etc… but can only be verified if lab tested. Client can decide to call a remediation company, or have samples collected and sent to a lab for testing… I don’t personally offer the lab service, but can charge a fee for collecting the samples and subbing out the lab for the service.

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If you aren’t certified to know where to test, what to test and how to test it, move on. Most likely if you aren’t all of those things, you aren’t insured by your GL/E&O should you make a mistake. Scenario: You take the online class (which has disclaimers that it isn’t a jurisdictional certification course); you go take a few samples and send it off in the pre-addressed envelope; you get the results back and it says, “Congratulations, there is no asbestos”; you tell client, “No asbestos” and they buy the house. Five years later, they have a contractor come in to do some work and because of the age of the house, they have some areas tested for asbestos by a jurisdictionally certified tester. Asbestos is found. You are served with a notice to sue. Insurance carrier says, “You weren’t insured to do asbestos testing, you’re on your own”. Well poop… was that extra $50 I made from that one client, five years ago, really a win? You may be a hero for a few minutes, by going the extra mile… but if things go badly down the road, everyone in the process will throw you under the bus to save their behinds… because they can, and it works.


For about $20000.00 you can buy an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. To detect lead paint under successive layers of paint. Only way in Maryland to get a lead free rating for your rental property. Most lead inspectors just do lead wipes which are just dampened cloth wipes used around window and door trim and sent to a lab. Lead paint was outlawed in MD in 1978 and was therefore not available to the general public. Took the course through MD EPA didn’t bother with the license, bunch of political nonsense, more license, more insurance, more liability, didn’t affect my business.

Note that cracking peeling paint is sufficient reason to not even do the test in MD (you fail automatically). Most common solution to lead paint is encapsulation (fancy word for painting over it). State still uses lead paint on bridges and overpasses. Lead paints most important characteristic was its resistance to UV light (outdoors) and is still used by the state for this reason.

Thing I still see out in the country is lead pipes. Test your well water!

That sounds like a typical government deal. A friend of mine owns a painting business and just found out our governor banned oil based wood stain. He does a lot of annual work for clients with wood siding that was stained and not painted. Bummer for those folks. When ever he comes across a house that potentially has lead paint, he explains to his client how much it would cost to get rid of it, and the clients usually tell him to just paint over it and forget the subject ever came up. LOL.

You need a special license for asbestos testing here, no there is nothing I can do about it.

But I’ve seen people take their own sample and drive it over to the lab before. Not that I condone such things, but I’ve observed it happen.