Getting the builders in?

If you’re planning some renovation or thinking of selling your property, has anyone mentioned ‘Asbestos’?

Did you know asbestos was used in construction of some domestic buildings right up to 2002? It was banned from import from 2000 after its health risks were confirmed; however was still out there so had the potential to be used. If your property was built after 2002, there’s no need to worry.

That means if your home is older than that, asbestos testing isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s essential if you’re thinking of making any structural changes. If you’re selling your property, potential purchasers will need to know if there’s asbestos anywhere in the property too.

Knowledge is power they say, so let’s look at some basic info that could be useful to you as a home owner – or owner to be!

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in many places around the earth. It is a form of fibrous rock, bet you didn’t know that, it was news to me too!

It is mined for its strength and inflammable qualities. ‘IS’ – not was.  Yes, it’s still mined; just because it is banned in most countries, it doesn’t mean every country has got the message yet.

Where do you look for asbestos?

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Asbestos was used in a variety of ways in domestic properties, from vinyl floor tiles to textured ceilings, like Artex, indoors; or gutters, soffits and cement roofs outdoors just to name a few. So when a buyers survey says ‘Artex’ or a builder says, “We need to investigate that garage roof,” through gritted teeth, you know that’s probably an indication that asbestos is involved. But what does that mean to you as the home owner?

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Builders and many trades people are (or should be) Asbestos Awareness trained. If any trades person comes to work in your home, you should ask that question – and they should have the certification to prove it.

They may also be qualified to remove any asbestos detected in your home safely, and they would have certificates for that too. 

You don’t have to wait for an asbestos-qualified trades person though, it you suspect there is asbestos anywhere on your property you can take a sample and send it in for testing yourself. Then you will have the certificate showing either positive or negative evidence of the presence of asbestos, before you put your house on the market or get quotes for any repair or renovation work.

Asbestos does create real health issues; this should never be ignored. Asbestos is fibrous, and if these fibres lodge themselves in your lungs they can create long term health issues and worst case scenario, death. It’s insidious, so there’s not an instant reaction, the effects build up over years.

This is why the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have many regulations regarding its use, removal and disposal. And it’s why it’s important that you are aware of the presence of asbestos in your home before you disturb those dangerous fibres. It’s not worth taking the chance – you wouldn’t want to suffer the after effects – or have anyone you love suffer either.

If you would like to know more or get more detailed advice regarding your asbestos options in your home, check out our websiteThere is also more information on the HSE website.