Restoring a Residence to Livability: Biohazard Remediation Following a Tragedy

Posted by Judy Orr on Saturday, February 16th, 2019 at 3:59pm.

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Not all articles and blog posts directly relevant to preparing a home for sale are bright and happy presentations. The grim reality is that tragic events and challenging situations arise when it comes to residential property that must be frankly discussed. This is one of those times. Through this discussion, you are provided important information and necessary strategies to restore a residence to livability (and salability) in the aftermath of a tragic event or ongoing situation that existed on the premises for an extended period of time.

Examples of Traumatic Events and Other Challenges in Residential Property

Typically, when a person makes the decision of putting a residence on the market for sale, the overriding issues include making certain the property has great curb appeal. Other common concerns include refreshing paint inside and outside of the home and making what many times are repairs that aren’t particularly major.

Sadly, unfortunately there are situations in which something has occurred at the residence which necessitates more than a little tweaking in advance of putting the property on the market. For example, a substantial cleanup needs to be undertaken, a process that technically is known as biohazard remediation.

Examples of incidents in a residence that necessitate biohazard remediation and an intense cleanup include:

  •         Undiscovered or unattended death
  •         Suicide
  •         Homicide
  •         Other violent crime
  •         Rodent or other pest infestation
  •         Hoarding situation

As an important side note, this article is not designed to provide you with the disclosure requirements associated with certain events that occurred at the premises within an established time period. Illinois real estate statutes do mandate that a seller make certain types of disclosures to a buyer in order. The penalties for failing to make required disclosures can be significant. In addition, the failure to make certain disclosures can expose a home seller to potential civil liability as well. In other words, a home buyer might be placed into a position to sue a person from whom he or she purchased a residence.

Disclosure issues can be addressed by a real estate professional or even a real estate attorney. In addition, there is a standard form available from the Illinois Association of Realtors that sets forth the disclosures that must be made by a residential seller.

Example the Need for Extreme Cleanup: Hoarding in a Residence

A prime example of when professional assistance is needed to restore a residence to a salable level is when a hoarding situation occurred in the premises. People face the need to address a hoarding situation more often than the general public likely realizes.

A common example of when a hoarding situation needs to be addressed professionally before a house can be put up for sale is when an elderly individual needs to move to a different living environment or when someone dies and a house is inherited by someone. In these types of situations, a third party either becomes fully aware of a hoarding situation for the first time or comes to understand the full extent of a problem which they knew was ongoing to some degree.

When hoarding becomes full-blown, the impact on a residence beyond an unimaginable accumulation of clutter (including garbage) includes:

  •         Damage to the physical structure
  •         Nonfunctional HVAC systems
  •         Nonfunctional plumbing
  •         Nonfunctional appliances
  •         Biohazardous materials

The first step of a hoarder cleanup as part of preparing a residence for sale is mining through the accumulated items to find property or documents that might have some actual value or necessity. The reality is that a hoarder eventually doesn’t distinguish between truly valuable items and those that are of no worth (including garbage). As a result, property items that may have some worth (monetary or sentimental) can be stuck in the midst of what otherwise is rubbish. Similarly, important documents (a last will and testament or a life insurance policy) might be mixed in with trash.

After important items and documents are identified and removed, the cleanup and remediation process commences. At the heart of this effort in the case of a full-blown case of hoarding is the elimination of biohazardous materials. In a serious hoarding situation, because toilets, sinks, and other plumbing availabilities are not likely to work, the residence will be littered with waste like human feces and urine. Because of the complexities associated with this type of work, and the inherent safety issues, engaging a professional biohazard remediation specialist is highly recommended.

In order to fully remediate the situation and bring the property to a marketable condition, the biohazard remediation process typically involves four phases:

  •         Cleaning up of physical items and hazardous materials at the premises
  •         Sanitization of the premises and objects that will remain in it
  •         Deodorization of the residence
  •         Full restoration of the house to a marketable and livable condition

Once the hoarding cleanup and biohazardous remediation effort is completed, a residence really is at the typical starting point of a home that is headed to a market for sale. This is when the focus can turn to items like curb appeal and staging the interior as part of the effort to prepare a residence for going up for sale.

This is another guest article from author Jessica Kane

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