Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Are you living on a garbage dump?

garbage dump circa 1939.jpg
Seattle Muicipal Archives

What exactly do our houses sit on? Seattle area real estate appraiser and educator Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Hagar that it's not uncommon for office buildings and homes to be built on former garbage dumps. 

Seattle's Interbay Golf Center is a good example of a city dump that's been covered up to create a thriving recreational business. Richard Hagar says he remembers loading up his family's truck with grass clippings and garbage and driving to Interbay and dumping it there.

Hagar says there are also residential areas in and around Seattle that are built on top of former dumps, including neighborhoods along Interstate 5 and the western slope of Capitol Hill.

So Maynard wants to know, why is it necessarily a bad thing to be living on top of a land fill? So what if your home sits on top of buried milk cartons and beer bottles? Hagar says, if you're lucky, nothing happens but that's not always the case.

"The garbage could be 100-200 feet thick with garbage with just a little clay layer over the top. It could be fairly organic and already dissolved out but people also throw away car batteries and paint solvents and those things can burp gas."

Municipal laws here now require full disclosure of former dump sites but for residential homes built before the 1960's that wasn't the case.

Hagar says if you're interested in buying a home, it's important to look up the history of the lot it sits on. And maybe it's not a bad idea to find out about that park close to the home of your dreams. Your real estate agent can also do some research for you. There are a number of sites online with useful information along these lines including a King County site that lists out closed solid waste facilities and a city parks blog that looks at how dumps get converted into parks.

John Maynard started working in radio in the seventies as a DJ at Seattle’s KJR AM which at the time was the dominant AM station in the Seattle market. After a brief stint as a restaurateur and night club owner, Maynard returned to radio with Robin Erickson, creating the hugely popular “Robin and Maynard Show.” In the more than 20 years under that marquee, Maynard flew with the Blue Angels, piloted the Goodyear Blimp, sang with Donny Osmond and hung out in a Universal Studios bar with Kojak (Telly Savalas).
Richard Hagar's real estate career spans more than 30 years. He currently serves as a real estate investor, real estate agent, appraiser, and an SRA with the Appraisal Institute.