Up until 1999 asbestos was readily available as a construction material within the UK and was used heavily in the home building construction industry.
Asbestos had many uses within the home, typically it was used in artex, in partition walls, in loft insulation and as a heat resistant pad behind cookers or fire places, among others.
Asbestos as a solid mineral is not deemed to be harmful, it is only when an Asbestos Containing Material (“ACM”) is disturbed that it becomes harmful as millions of microscopic fibres are realised that are toxic when inhaled.
A question we often receive is how to act if someone wishes to buy or sell a home that has asbestos within it?
Our advice is to check through the homes survey pack compiled by the property surveyor. This should reveal all asbestos in the home and may even say whether the asbestos is in a good or bad state of repair.
If the asbestos is in a good state of repair, and you are not planning to disturb it in any future renovation works then you should have no real worries, though do keep a copy of the survey to hand for future reference by you or anyone else.
If the survey does not comment on asbestos and you are worried, either ask the surveyor to re-visit the property, or pay for a private survey to be conducted by a specialist asbestos surveying company.
How do I act if asbestos is listed in the survey?
If asbestos is listed in the survey you should first consider if the asbestos is in a good state of repair. If it is and you are not planning on disturbing it then you do not need to worry. However keep a note of where the asbestos is located for future reference.
As a home buyer you can ask for the asbestos to be removed before you purchase the property. Alternatively for a reduction in the sale price to cover the costs of having the asbestos removed yourself.
As a home seller you should advise potential buyers of the presence of asbestos in the home and state that this fact is reflected in the sale price.
Bear in mind that asbestos removal is expensive with a 20m² ceiling costing on average £1,500.00 + VAT to be safely removed.
Should I attempt to remove the asbestos myself?
Our advice is never to attempt to remove ACM’s yourself. Asbestos is a highly toxic material and exposure to asbestos fibres can cause conditions such as pleural thickening, asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer, the latter two of which are fatal conditions.
The Health and Safety Executive website offers useful advice to home owners on how to deal with asbestos in the home. In short the advice is always to consult a professional and never attempt to remove it yourself.