Our team are quite often asked “Do I need to budget for an asbestos building survey?”
Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999. It was used widely when building houses, over 50% of homes before 1999 may still contain asbestos now… as it was widely used in the last century it had desirable properties such as sound absorption and resistance to heat, fire and electricity. So, we know why it was used so much.
The fibres in the asbestos were quite often mixed with cement and then woven into mats and tiles for fireproofing homes. However, as much as asbestos had its advantages, for many years we knew there were health related issues that went hand in hand with the use of it.
Unfortunately, a great deal of the older properties that are around contain asbestos based products, usually chrysotile in the fire surrounds, ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, flooring tiles and older pipes. There are different types of asbestos…brown asbestos, which is known as amosite and blue asbestos, crocidolite. They were two of the most used elements in cement insulation sheets.
Not only was asbestos used in building homes but the cigarette brand Kent’s used crocidolite asbestos in its filtered cigarettes in the 1950s and the artificial snow in The Wizard of Oz consisted of asbestos flakes. Artex walls were finishes contained white asbestos up until the mid 80s. Thankfully in 1999 the use of white asbestos was banned in the UK.
In 2011 it was estimated that over 50% of UK houses still contained asbestos despite its use being banned many years earlier.
Now, builders and contractors who are working in your property could unknowingly be exposed to asbestos whilst carrying out any work. The Health & Safety Executive has issued guidance under HSG 264 which outlines how asbestos surveys should be completed. Often, basic management surveys will nearly always identify if asbestos is present in a building or not. A refurbishment or demolishment survey is carried out it is very intrusive which can lead to increased repair costs but then you would be able to uncover any asbestos in the property. All attempts would be made to enter concealed or locked spaces.
Any asbestos that is found, the removal contractor must be registered and licensed to remove or dispose of the asbestos. This could incur a large cost that you need to be aware of but it is better to have the asbestos removed rather than it staying in the building.
If you are considering undertaking work on your property, we would suggest that you allow a budget sum for the potential of asbestos removal.