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Two Building Materials to be Wary of When Purchasing an Older Home

If you’re planning to purchase and renovate an older home, it’s important to know what problems are likely lying dormant. There are two building materials to be wary of as they could negatively impact you financially.

  1. Poly-B Plumbing

Poly-B plumbing was used in homes built between 1978-1995 throughout Calgary and Canada. It is also the only type of plumbing to be involved in a class action lawsuit, due to the fact that heat and sunlight break it down, causing it to leak.

During my time in residential construction I spoke will several plumbers who would tell me it’s not a matter of if it is going to leak, but when it is going to leak. Luckily, it is easily identifiable, just look for grey flexible plastic piping with Poly-B written on it.

I have heard a few horror stories of people having to re-do piping in their homes and pipes leaking because of the Poly-B product. Poly-B is coming to the point in its lifetime when it is starting to leak more and more often.

When replacing Poly-B piping, the cost to re-pipe a single family home could be around $3,000 - $4000. However this price does not include the cost to repair your home, as plumbers would need to cut holes in walls, ceiling and remove cabinets to access your waterlines. The repairs to these areas can quickly add up. Consider this when purchasing homes built between 1978 through 1995. If you are looking at a home built during this period, you can easily check out to see if Poly-B was used by looking in the mechanical room, or under the sinks to see if it has the grey coloured pipe with Poly-B written on it.

2. Asbestos

Most people have heard of asbestos and understand the serious health risks when it is not handled/removed property. If you have a home built before 1980 it is pretty much guaranteed asbestos was used in the house.

It can be found in dry wall, ceiling tiles, textured ceilings (knock-down popcorn) and floor tiles. As long as asbestos remains dormant, it is perfectly fine. But when you want to do renovations and you want to touch one of these materials, then you need to get it remediated throughout your entire house. Asbestos remediation is not a DIY project, you will need to get a restoration company to do so, which can be pricey. Ceilings can cost $10,000 - $20,000 to remediate and floor tiles can cost $5,000 - $10,000 to remediate. This could easily blow your renovation budget. When considering purchasing a home built before 1980, it’s a good idea to hire a home inspector who is licensed to test for asbestos or to pay to bring in a restoration company who can also issue the test. Knowing whether your house has asbestos or poly-b plumbing upfront can save you a lot of grief later.

Matthew Watson is a Calgary based realtor with the Real Estate Professionals and owner of Real Estate and Rejuvenate. He has over 11 years of residential construction experience with custom home builders and production home builders.

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