Vail Daily column: Should I get a radon test for my new home? |

Vail Daily column: Should I get a radon test for my new home?

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

We are buying a new home and although we are very excited, we have been consistently surprised with new costs that we had not taken into account. Now that we are near to closing on the home, the builder said we don’t need to pay for a home inspector’s services since we will do a punch list and all of the new appliances and systems are under warranty. That was the one expense we had planned on, including getting a radon test.

The builder has indicated that there should not be a radon problem because it is new construction. What do you recommend? We wouldn’t mind saving the money, but we don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish. Thanks.

Dear Soon to be Brand-New Home Owner,

Your builder is correct about the appliance warranties. You should also have a builder warranty, and the sub-contractors should warrant their work for a period of time. You can verify all of this in writing with your builder. However, it might be a good idea to touch base with a professional inspector regardless and see what he or she would recommend.

Concerning the decision about the radon test, I would definitely recommend having a test done, as we have found substantial amounts of radon in new construction in the valley in the past. Radon presence is not necessarily about new or old construction.

According to Janet Wickell, a home buying and selling expert, “Radon gas is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that’s formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon exits in the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation.

Health officials have determined that radon gas is a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer. Studies show that radon is more of a risk to smokers, but nonsmokers have a slightly elevated chance of developing lung cancer when radon levels in the home are high.”

Radon misconceptions

Besides the myth that new homes can’t have radon issues, there are several other misconceptions that exist around radon presence. One is that if you don’t have a basement, then you can’t have radon issues.

According to Pillar to Post in the latest Residential Specialists magazine, “owners of a home that is built on a slab or crawl space actually spend more time in closer proximity to the soil from which the gas originates than homes with a basement.”

Also, according to the same source, homes should be tested every two years even if they have a radon mitigation system installed. This article also said they have found excessive levels of radon in condominiums on upper levels. The good news is that elevated radon levels can usually be fairly easily mitigated. The important issue is knowing about it in time to take care of you and your family’s health. Go ahead with your test so that you can enjoy your beautiful new home.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 and

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