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Education Resources   >   Case Study: Ben Had
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Ben was so (understandably) anxious to purchase his first home that he overlooked certain details in the early stages that could have saved him a lot of time and money in the long run.

The Story of Ben Had, First-time Homebuyer
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Ben, a hard-working family man who had been renting for several years, was finally in a position to take part in the American Dream and become a homeowner.  To expedite the purchasing process, Ben worked with a licensed realtor to guide him through all facets of the homebuying experience.

Finally Ben found a home he could afford in a nice older neighborhood.  While putting in an offer on the home, his relator suggested he spend a few hundred dollars to get a home inspection.  Conveniently, the realtor had the name and phone number of a home inspector he highly recommended.  After the offer was accepted and escrow closed, Ben and his family could finally move-in to their new home. 

Several months later, Ben noticed his utility bills seemed higher than they should be.  The air conditioner was constantly running yet the house never seemed to cool down to a comfortable level.  So Ben contacted several air conditioning companies thinking there might be a problem with the home's central air conditioning unit.  "We probably just need to upgrade to a larger, more efficient A/C system" he thought.

Before making his decision, a friend at work suggested that Ben get an Energy Audit before investing in new equipment.  This audit would analyze all energy-related equipment throughout the home and tell him exactly where he can get the most bang for the buck.  To Ben's utter surprise, the audit revealed he had asbestos ductwork that was old, leaky, and was forcing his heating and air conditioner to work harder and longer for barely noticeable results.  Through the audit, Ben also learned that his attic had very little insulation and his walls had none. 

Ben made the smart decision to have his asbestos ducts removed and new efficient ductwork installed and diagnostically tested for efficiency.  He also added high levels of attic and wall insulation while at the same time, receiving substantial cash rebates from his local utility company.  His problems were solved without having to invest in new furnace and air conditioning equipment.

Ben and his wife have a difficult time understanding why his trusted realtor, recommended home inspector, and licensed HVAC contractors did not notify them about the presence of asbestos ductwork.  When confronted, all professional parties simply claimed that they weren't aware.

Consumer Alert

Sadly, Ben's story is far from an isolated case.  Whether you are purchasing an older home or already own one, simply ask these professionals (home inspectors, contractors, etc.) directly if there is asbestos ductwork in your attic.

You may want to hire your own home inspection professional instead of one recommended by your realtor to avoid any conflict of interest.

Note: If you are going to get an energy audit, make sure that diagnostic duct testing is included as part of the evaluation.

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