Goodbye popcorn ceiling, hello drywall

Owner eyes improvement but fears code conflict

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Q: My husband and I live in a high-rise condo on Russian Hill in San Francisco, which we bought in 1975 and have updated over the years. However we have not tackled the popcorn ceiling problem. The contractor who remodeled the building's lobby a few years ago is going to upgrade our apartment (replace carpet with tile), and we broached the subject of the ceiling with him. Removing the asbestos popcorn is, as you have suggested, not a good option. The ceiling has been painted several times, but it's still popcorn. We raised the possibility of drywall. The contractor said that although code would allow it, the code could change -- implying that we might be in some kind of trouble down the road. We would also need to disclose the concealed asbestos if we were to sell the apartment. In this building, the majority of new owners do a complete tear-out, including walls and any past improvements such as ceiling treatments. The disclosure would alert a prospective buyer of addition...