Out of Bounds

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

For anyone who has played sports, out of bounds has clear meaning. In our everyday lives it can be less defined. However in our chosen profession it's again often pretty clear where the limits lie. The limits of a home inspector's professional responsibility are continually being examined and questioned. Not necessarily by the public or those in the real estate profession, all though that is true, but by the inspector's themselves.

Home inspectors must continually gain information through continuing education classes and through their own research. Inspectors who wish to stand out from the pack often obtain special certifications which require specific knowledge and often continuing education to retain these special qualifications. I see these same special designations in real estate. Agents who have made the extra effort to acquire specialty skills.

Continuous radon monitorPersonally one of the skills I have obtained is Radon Measurement Specialist through the National Radon Safety Board. This designation is not required in the state of Connecticut. In fact the State requires no training for individuals who perform radon testing. Further the State does not over see the testing industry, it is for all intents and purposes the wild west.

What this lack of required training has caused and from my experience continues to cause, is bad information and misconceptions to spread through the real estate industry in Connecticut. Consumers are under the impression any home inspector who performs radon testing, as far as I know all of them do, is trained and qualified. Real estate agents are being "trained" by inspectors who have never been trained themselves. Ultimately for someone like myself who has the credentials to be called a testing expert, friction can occur when testing conditions are in dispute with the perceived norm.

The two most common issues are over closed house conditions and closed houses. Both these issues were raised with me in the last week.

Closed building conditions are the standard protocol for radon testing during a real estate transaction. These procedures were established by the EPA in 1993 in the publication Protocols for Radon and Radon Decay Product Measurement in Homes. To quote from section 2.3.2;

Windows on all levels and external doors should be kept closed (except during normal entry and exit) during the measurement period.

All levels. Not just the basement or the basement and first floor. All means every one.

The other issue that gets occasionally brought up by the sellers agent when a test comes back over the 4.0 pCi/L EPA action level is the house is vacant, therefore the radon level is going to be high. In other words they are saying the test is invalid.

This conclusion is of course wrong. What is more bothersome is that a real estate agent would make conclusions that are out of bounds. While the majority of home inspectors may not be specifically trained, they are still the designated "expert". Radon testing is not within the real estate agents job description.

In the world of real estate every specific profession has it's boundaries. Knowing and respecting those limits should be the first rule of the game.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the post. I learned a lot fom it. I do not advice people on radon. They should talk to an expert.

Aug 21, 2012 10:37 PM #1
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Good morning James,

Absolutely true, knowing and respecting the limits are the difficult aspects for folks to follow!

Aug 21, 2012 10:38 PM #2
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

Here we have to jump through hoops to get registered as a radon specialist tester.

Then we have to pay a fee just to be registered with the state.

Have a great day and congrats on the specializing in radon testing field. Even though it's not required.

Best, Clint McKie

Aug 21, 2012 10:38 PM #3
Faith LaRosse
Springer Realty Group - Wyomissing, PA
Serving Berks, Chester & Montgomery Counties

Radon can be a complex situation and should most certainly be handled by a well educated professional.

Aug 21, 2012 10:39 PM #4
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

Whenever an agent gives advice or opinions on anything other that for which they are qualified, they are asking for trouble!

Aug 21, 2012 11:30 PM #5
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, I love the idea of how the uneducated end up educating the uneducated:)

Aug 22, 2012 01:56 AM #6
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Good you are getting so much advice from the uninformed!  Love it!  What if the inspector returns to get the radon and all the windows in the house were open all night?  Is that a problem?

Aug 22, 2012 07:13 AM #7
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia


Aug 22, 2012 07:14 AM #8
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, Learning how to perform proper testing is very important. As you you there can be a high degree of difference in how to set up the test and the protocols that go along with that.

Aug 22, 2012 12:57 PM #9
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Gita, Good for your clients. 

Lisa, It seems so at times. 

Clint, There's always a fee :) Thanks.

Faith, It can be made complicated by the buyers getting mixed information. 

Kathryn, For sure. That really goes all around. An inspector doing the same will end up in trouble.

Charlie, It can be very uneducational :)

Jay, I love advice, especially from those who have no idea about that of which they speak. Windows open, not a problem...for the buyer :)

Don, I know you well appreciate testing protocols. Too many it seems in the testing business do not understand the importance of following procedure. 

Aug 22, 2012 09:01 PM #10
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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