Feb. 11, 2018
The Fairbanks North Star Borough has some unique Real Estate Challenges, and it is our job to help you avoid these problems. Below is a list of conditions that you should be aware of if you are considering a home purchase.
Construction Quality is a major factor: Many homes were built in the late seventies and early eighties during the Alaska Oil Pipeline Boom, and many of these homes were inadequately built compared to today's building techniques. Aging homes built with All Weather Wood foundations are of particular concern, and these foundations have started failing. Additionally, we regularly find homes inaccurately advertised and listed as having a concrete foundation, when it is actually sitting on top of an aging All Weather Wood Foundation. When in doubt, check the foundation. Some structures in our area have been constructed or remodeled without regard to building code, haven't been inspected by an engineer, and there may be serious structural defects that are not readily apparent. Things to look for during a home inspection include: electrical problems, poor drainage, mold, carpenter ant damage, missing/damaged/inadequate vapor barrier, poor roof ventilation, failing foundations, deficient heating and plumbing systems, leaky roofs, dry rot, and deficient design. When in doubt, get a home inspection from a Professional Engineer.
Be Aware of Permafrost: Some areas within the Fairbanks and North Pole have permanently frozen soil or ice lenses in the ground. If the land is cleared, or improper building techniques are employed, the ground can melt and cause catastrophic results. Soil suitability can be determined by a professional, and common practice is to have the ground drilled to test for existence of permafrost.
Well Water Quality: If the home is serviced by a private well, the condition of the well and water quality can deteriorate over time. It is important to not only test the quality of the water, but to also check the well flow to ensure the well can provide adequate water volume for your household demands. Contaminants that should be tested for include; sulfolane, arsenic, heavy metals, nitrates, and bacterial growth.
Septic Systems: If public wastewater removal is not available, sewage and wastewater can be discharged into a septic system. If the system does not conform to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation standards, the septic system may need to be replaced or require a waiver from ADEC. When in doubt, get a septic test to verify the function and design of the system.
Buried Fuel Tanks: Home heating oil is frequently stored in buried fuel tanks. Current regulations on residential tanks are minimal, however the resulting contamination from a failed fuel tank is subject to regulation. The property owner may be responsible for contamination clean up and remediation expenses. Considering that most fuel tanks are metal and subject to corrosion, it is important to verify the integrity of an aging fuel tank.
Radon Gas: Radon is a Radioactive Gas and known carcinogen that naturally occurs in certain environments. The EPA recommends action be taken if Radon levels are 4 pCi/L or greater. Fortunately the test is simple, and radon can be mitigated with professional help.
The items listed above are important factors to consider when purchasing a home. Our goal is to help you avoid these problems, and many others during the purchasing process. The expert Realtors at Hedgecock Group Real Estate are skilled at navigating our clients around the hazards found in the Fairbanks and North Pole Real Estate Market. Please reach out to us any time.
We are here to help!
Image courtesy of Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. http://forces.si.edu/soils/02_06_02.html