More Health & Safety Hazards to Consider Before You Begin Your Next Rehab Project
When it comes to flipping real estate and rehabbing, a certain amount of sweat equity must go into the project before profits can be seen.
As discussed in Rehabbing Real Estate: Unseen Dangers part 1, many investors really love to get involved in the reconstruction process of a real estate investment deal.
Particularly concerning, however, are the potential health and safety risks that can go into rehabbing a home; especially an holder property, where it is likely that the biggest profits will be found. In part one of this two-part series, I spoke about more commonly known, though unseen, hazards such as mold, asbestos, lead and organic compounds found in building materials.
In addition to the hazards already associated with a typical construction projects, homes that are undergoing a rehab process might have a number of health risk and danger issues that must be addressed.
Air Quality contaminants seemingly make up the bigger part of potential dangers, but closely following them are some problems that are not so commonly, known, considered or understood.
Mercury is the chemical element that was used for heating systems and thermostats in older homes. It can also be found in fluorescent bulbs and thermometers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mercury vapor is one of the most highly toxic chemicals you can possibly come into contact with and if a product that contains it breaks or spills, it can produce a highly toxic odorless vapor which, even in small amounts, can cause some serious health problems.
Probably one of the most common hazards associated with rehabbing, home repairs, and construction in general are the electrical kind. The mass volume of electrical wiring, in any building, calls for extreme cautionary measures. Just about every wall in a typical house is inundated with some kind of wiring, including those on the exterior and even in the yard.
Most often the dangers associated with electrical aspect of rehabbing a house involve fire damage or shock. Wiring tends to be particularly volatile in areas of the home where additions have been made. Exposed wires, of course, pose exceptional safety risks.
Unless you are a licensed electrician, it may be wise to involve a professional when it comes to dealing with the electrical on your rehab project.
Though they may seem fairly straightforward and simple in nature, combustion appliances can be deceiving in that they require a precise chemical reaction between fuel and an oxidant to create heat.
Since fuel lines are typically used to source each appliance (furnaces, dryers, space heaters, boilers and gas stoves), they provide a special kind of danger if not handled properly.
Underground Oil Tanks
Sometimes older homes have heating oil tanks buried in the backyard. Generally they are found about 8 feet below ground, several feet from the foundation of the building. While these may remain dormant and undisturbed for decades, they can easily present hazards when landscaping is done or homes are expanded.
In addition to that, the steel tanks can corrode or leak, which poses groundwater contamination issues or fire hazards.
Part of your due diligence as a real estate investor is becoming familiar with every aspect of the property you invest in. Even though removal of these types of tanks can be expensive, they are significantly more so should corrosion and leakage happen first. Tanks can be found with magnetic scanners and soil tests can be done to check for leaks.
In the past, lumber companies often treated wood with chemicals to preserve its longevity and fight against decay. Unfortunately, the chemical most often used was Chromate Copper Arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic. Of course, arsenic is linked to some cancers and can be even fatal if ingested by humans or animals.
Always wear gloves when working with pressure treated wood while remodeling or landscaping, and never grind or burn it.