Q: We were taught (in a safety class) by an environmental engineer certified to teach about asbestos in the workplace.
We were taught that the federal government allows the homeowner to abate the homeowner’s own asbestos-containing products.
We were taught the federal rules allow the homeowner to dispose of residential asbestos waste at the curb for pickup by the local city trash department without any special markings on the garbage bags as to the asbestos contents within the bags.
We were taught that any contractor for hire removing asbestos out of any home or commercial enterprise must follow numerous rigid and expensive safety precautions, (but) the homeowner is exempt from following if the homeowner does his own abatement. Is this true? –Peter V.
A: Asbestos removal is typically regulated by individual states, under departments of environmental quality or environmental protection agencies. Many states allow homeowners to remove small amounts of asbestos on their own.
And while you’re correct that homeowners typically don’t need to follow the same air scrubbing and air monitoring procedures required of professional companies, they do need to comply with a number of safety regulations for their own protection, and the protection of others.
To be honest, I’m really surprised that any safety trainer at a class you attended would have said it’s OK to leave asbestos in unmarked bags at the curb for trash pickup. To my knowledge, asbestos needs to be in clearly marked bags, and it needs to be disposed of at landfills that accept that type of material.
Leaving it in unmarked bags at the curb poses a potential hazard to sanitation workers and others, and should never be done.
The Ohio Department of Health website, for example, states, "Generally, asbestos-containing waste should be taken to a landfill that accepts asbestos waste."
In your state, you could also contact the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.state.oh.us to obtain specific rules and requirements. And the Ohio Department of Health offers assistance at ASBESTOS@odh.ohio.gov or by phone at 614-466-0061.
Q: I have an existing 24-foot-by-12-foot-deep deck that’s attached to my house. We had to raise the yard grade to accommodate a new septic system. Our deck needs to be raised a foot so we can grade away from the house. The current deck has a step down from the house so raising it would still keep the deck below the entrance to the house. We took the boards off and the understructure is in great shape. The deck is supported by six cement footings across the front and middle, and the back is attached to the house with a ledger board. Is there any way we can raise the structure without taking it apart? Can we cut it in sections? –Glenn R.
A: Because you have already removed the deck boards, I would suggest installing a new ledger with new joist hangers in the desired location. Then transfer each of the existing joists from the current ledger to the new ledger — they will sit at an angle temporarily — then raise the opposite ends of the joists by installing temporary framing under them. That will allow you to then extend or replace the existing posts and girders up to the joists. Secure the joists back to the girders, remove the temporary framing, and reinstall the decking boards.
Depending on what type of access you have to the yard, you might also want to get a price on having a crane company simply lift the entire deck, allowing you to keep everything intact and just add new posts. In the right circumstances, this can be a very quick and cost-effective option.
Q: Does landscaping add to the value of your home? I mean, if you spend approximately $8,000 in landscaping, can this amount be considered when pricing your home for sale? –Gladys D.
A: Selling a home is all about appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers, and adding landscaping is certainly one way to do that. It makes the home considerably more appealing, especially from the front — that all-important "curb appeal" — and good landscaping adds to a buyer’s overall sense that the home has been well maintained.
How much value the landscaping adds from a monetary standpoint is dependent on several things, including the overall price of the home in comparison to others in the area; how well landscaped competing homes are; how fast or slow homes are selling in the area; and how quickly you personally need to make a sale. Your best bet is to talk with a real estate agent who’s experienced with homes in your area, and discuss exactly how much landscaping to add and how much you might reasonably expect to get back on your investment.
Don’t forget that the cost of adding landscaping, as with all other home improvements, should be deductible against any capital gains taxes you incur when you sell the home.