Back in the 1950s and ‘60s the concept that asbestos was a silent killer was unheard of. But, for many decades now the realisation of the dangers that the material poses, has been identified and dealt with. It was popular in the last century as a material used in the construction industry for fireproofing. Nowadays it is banned and much of the material has been removed. But some can still exist in buildings built earlier than the 1990s. The cost of an asbestos survey will depend on the size of the property, the number of asbestos containing materials (ACM) and how many test samples are required. This website generates estimates as guideline prices for a surveyor to visit the property to carry out an initial check. You can also check their details and contact them directly to discuss exactly what you need. The surveyor can provide a report which outlines further steps to be advised. There are two types of survey that may be required, a Management Survey or a Demolition/Refurbishment Survey. The first, previously known as a Type One or Type Two Survey, covers risk control in occupied buildings. The second, previously known as a Type Three Survey, is more intrusive and takes place prior to work being done so the asbestos can be removed safely beforehand. If building or demolition work is planned then this is the survey to go for. A Management Survey will only list ACM which present a risk.
Surveyors carrying out these inspections should have the qualifications P402 and P405 from the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection and it is prudent to check any credentials before undertaking work.
Although there are actually six types of asbestos, only three were widely used in building materials, chrysotile (white), amosite (brown) and crocidolite (blue). Blue is the most dangerous and white is the least dangerous. The important factor is the material with which the asbestos is mixed as it depends how well connected the fibres are - the more bonded and packed together the less dangerous. It is when the fibres can potentially be released into the air with just a minor disturbance that the material becomes most hazardous.
Asbestos can be found in a diverse range of building products. Be aware of fireplaces, night storage heaters, floors, walls, ceilings and roofs, as all of them could contain materials linked with asbestos, as well as fire blankets and hessian covered corkboards.
It is possible you may have asbestos in your home but the likelihood of any problems occurring is kept to a minimum as long as the ACM is not disturbed in any way.
Although current legislation (Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002) means that commercial and communal property owners are responsible for the management of asbestos, there is no law governing how domestic homeowners manage their ACM. The best protocol is not to disturb it in any way and get a trained professional in if you plan to make changes. It would be a good idea for a would-be purchaser to check levels of asbestos in a property before signing an agreement as the cost of asbestos removal is high. It should only be done by a licenced contractor who will ensure that safety is the key.
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