In most markets, buying an association or a condo association goes something like this: Your realtor takes you to see your dream home. You put in an offer—along with a bunch of other people. After some back-and-forth (or maybe even a ferocious bidding war, depending on the location and property) your offer is finally accepted. You submit a bunch of personal documents and settle in for the interminable wait while all that paperwork is reviewed by what seems like a small army of attorneys.
As part of this process, you may or may not choose to have your home inspected. While home inspections are very common in single-family homes, they're also sometimes conducted in more suburban condo associations too.
Once you move into your new place, you expect that you and your family will live happily ever after. Until, that is, you find out that your dream home is filled with invisible hazards that can make you and your loved ones very sick.
While some hazards—things like crumbling masonry, cracked sidewalks and deteriorating windows—are visible even to an untrained eye, other dangers are not so obvious. A few are entirely invisible to the eye and they have no smell or taste, but they are still deadly.
Substances like lead, carbon monoxide, radon, and even formaldehyde can permeate a building or unit without anyone knowing until it’s too late, and the result can be tragic. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental pollutant. There are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead: through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual breathes or swallows lead particles or dust once it has settled.”