Handbook of Radon.

53. Who to employ to cure a radon problem?

There are many choices facing a building owner or occupier confronted with a radon result. The first question is whether to do anything at all: several Sections in the Handbook should assist with this, especially 11 and 41.

To some extent the choice of remediation route may depend upon whether do-it-yourself work is envisaged. If so, detailed advice may be needed, and may be obtained from a consultant or other specialist advisor. In many cases however, building works may be needed that are outside the competence of a householder.

There are three principal options for commercial remediation. The two guiding principles should be to obtain more than one estimate for building works, and to recognise that, once a suitable course of action has been identified, radon works are generally simple and straightforward. They need be no more expensive than a comparable amount of general building work.

The options are:

1. Obtain estimates from several local builders, including perhaps someone known from previous work to be reliable.

2. Obtain estimates and advice from one of the 'specialist' radon companies. Almost invariably, estimates will be higher than from local builders.

3. Obtain advice and guidance from a consultant, and with the further option of supervision of remedial works undertaken by a selected local builder.

Surprisingly, the third option need be no more expensive than using a specialist limited company. It is the most secure, in that advice from a consultant can be relied upon.

The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are:

1. Local builders.

Local builders often produce good work for moderate prices, and many have considerable knowledge of the particular features of local buildings.

However, because of the limited interest in radon remediation (a situation paralleled in the USA) few local builders have much experience in diagnostics and interpretation of test data.

2. Specialist companies.

Specialist companies may claim to be 'specialists' but on the basis of very little training or expertise. Often their prices are high, and they use only a few standard systems designs. They may be 'tied' to one or more particular manufacturers products. Guarantees should be studied with care - they may be valid only as long as the company remains in business. A few companies may belong to guarantee insurance schemes, which will underwrite the work should the company fail.

3. Consultant supervised works.

Employing an experienced consultant to advise on radon is not expensive, except where detailed tests over many hours are needed to confirm the most appropriate course of remediation.

Often the money spent on consultancy services can be recouped by way of employing a local builder to work as directed by the consultant, rather than employing an expensive specialist company. The key advantage of using a professional consultant is that his work may be expected to carry a personal assurance of competence.

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