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I am in the process of buying a ranch-style house constructed in 1972 and my online research just made me aware of the possibility that the entire house's drywall contains asbestos. If I have it tested, and the test comes back positive, my impression is that I would need to disclose this fact to any future buyers.

Two questions:

  1. Would this disclosure absolutely annihilate the resale value of the property and make it un-sellable without re-drywalling the whole-house? Is this an "ignorance is bliss" type of situation?

  2. How dangerous is it really to have asbestos in drywall that's not disturbed? Is it really true that you can knock asbestos fibers loose just by putting a nail in the wall? Is this type of hazard something not really worth worrying about?

The primary occupants will be two mid-twenties adults and one 16-month old child, with more on the way.

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It depends where you live. In the California Bay Area, the market is so hot that a dump house like that would sell in a week. Last summer, I went to check out a 1970's ranch house with asbestos in the popcorn ceilings. I made an offer on the same day as the open house, but they told me they just already sold the house. – JoJo Dec 8 '13 at 17:46
I'm not in the SF bay area, thankfully. If I were there I wouldn't be able to afford a house at all. – iLikeDirt Dec 8 '13 at 18:39
up vote 0 down vote accepted

To give some insight, when the asbestos is in a spot that cannot be removed, the asbestos is "encapsulated" as it is called. It can be a coat of paint, or plastic sheeting taped up tight. I have seen both used. Anything that keeps the surface from abrading.

In your case it is trapped between two layers of paper with numerous coats of paint over the living space side. The occasional nail you refer to is the only thing that would violate that, short of vandalism.

In my 42 years in the residential building trade, I have never heard of asbestos in drywall, then again, I only heard for the first time last year about asbestos in vermiculite house insulation.

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Thanks for showing me that, quite the eye opener. Looks like the potential for problems is nil, with exceptions from what it says in the article. – Jack Dec 8 '13 at 22:32
Obviously if it's undisturbed and encapsulated, it looks like it's fine. My worry is about the resale value. Will asbestos in the drywall be a deal-breaker for anyone who would want to buy it from me? – iLikeDirt Dec 8 '13 at 23:25
First, you have to test if it is there or not. If it is, yes it would turn a lot of buyers away. What are the chances you really have asbestos in your drywall? – Jack Dec 8 '13 at 23:36

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