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.
Personally 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.