Why aren't more builders building homes with radon-resistant construction techniques? They fix radon and lower moisture!

Asked by Allen Fields
Greenville, SC


Raymond Pruban

Answered by Raymond Pruban

Woodbury, MN

Amaris Custom Homes

December 29, 2010


I can tell by your question you have experience with radon, its health risks and systems to mitigate radon.

The simple answer to your question is the vast majority of builders build to minimum state building codes required in each state.

  • The EPA claims that radon causes lung cancer and kills many thousands of Americans each year, yet states have been very slow to adopt radon mitigation requirements to building code.
  • In Minnesota where I build, passive radon systems were just added to the building code in 2009 with enforcement starting in 2010, and Minnesota is in a high-risk radon zone.
  • In other states I am familiar with, radon testing has been required on every house sold (new or used) for many, many years. Why the difference? Dare I say money and politics are involved?

Lack of awareness

It has been my experience that when consumers know they are buying homes that could give them lung cancer, they are more than willing to pay any reasonable amount of money to insure against radon.

Sadly, builders are not even aware of the risks they are exposing their clients to. To my knowledge a builder has never been successfully sued for building a house without a radon system that caused lung cancer. Once that happens, things would change quickly.

Side benefits

We have been installing active radon systems for many years now. The two side benefits I love about them as a builder are:

  • the 4" rock under the foundation gives hydrostatic water pressure a path to the drain tile and
  • the active radon fan dries out the basement.

For more information:

Read Greg Fitzpatrick's Q&A "We are building a new "green" home in Utah. Can a foundation drain contribute to home health?"

Also, the EPA's A Citizen's Guide to Radon offers helpful tips on testing your home for radon.

Tagged In: home air quality

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.