A “snowman” is a term used for a boiler, typically ancient, that is coated in a layer of asbestos. It is humorous, a little bit scary, and then what?
There are still some of them out there. I saw this one in a property within the last couple of weeks. I still see a few them per year and there is one (or more?) in the basement of my office where I am sitting now.
There are fewer of them every day and eventually they will all age out, but what do you need to know if you cross paths with them?
If you are looking at a home to purchase and it has a snowman, or any asbestos insulation, you will likely look to remediate that in some way. A few years ago the guidance was to remove it, requiring a hazmat tent and the astronaut-looking workmen. Currently, the advice is toward encapsulating it and not disturbing it to prevent distributing the fibers at all.
A boiler is a unique situation because eventually that boiler will need to be replaced. As a homebuyer, what do you do? As part of the transaction, whether the seller participates in any way in this remediation, depends on the pressure on the deal. If there are multiple offers and the pressure is on the buyer, I would plan to take care of the boiler on your own as the buyer, when you are ready. If the boiler is functioning, there is no urgency. If you are looking to change the HVAC or do any renovations in the boiler area, you might do it sooner rather than later. You definitely want to keep from disturbing it or coming in contact with it.
If there are not multiple offers and the property isn’t selling immediately, you may have more leverage as a buyer to have a seller contribute to resolving the issue. However, remember that the seller has thought that the situation was “just fine” for the entire time they owned the property and they don’t necessarily want to “upgrade” it for you.
What if you are selling and have a snowman or asbestos and are wondering what to do?
This also depends on the marketing perspective of your property. In many locations and types of properties at this time, people are buying things without even looking at the boiler and they honestly won’t care and might not notice. In some markets, or some types of properties, it might benefit you, as a seller, to remediate or replace that boiler prior to marketing the property.
Your weakest position as a seller, in our opinion, is to get your home under agreement and then have a buyer trying to negotiate this issue with you. That is probably the costliest scenario.
If you are looking for advice to give you the most personal benefit, hire an experienced agent to take your side, and always use an experienced home inspector.
In any case, save the photo, and show off your real estate prowess at cocktail parties. 🙂
Beacon Group Real Estate – David Gordon and Stephanie Ford-Weems
Manor Home Inspection – www.manorhi.com/