You might be surprised to hear that when buying a property, there is no legal requirement to carry out an asbestos survey.
In fact, it’s very common for people to buy a new house and move without ever making use of one.
With that said, asbestos surveys can mitigate or remove some major problems in the long run, and can even save some short money too.
Let’s start with the basics:
How Common is Asbestos in the UK?
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to put a reliable number on this without carrying out a major nationwide inspection.
With that said, asbestos was banned from use in construction in the UK in November 1999 - so any home built before that date has a realistic risk of containing asbestos.
Even older period homes from before asbestos was commonly in use may contain asbestos, due to later works and extensions done to them.
When disturbed or damaged asbestos releases microscopic fibres which when inhaled, can cause cancer, mesothelioma, and other life threatening diseases and conditions.
As a result, any building not built from 2000 onwards should be considered at high risk of containing asbestos.
So why is checking before buying so important?
Asbestos Can Affect Property Value
The presence of asbestos can negatively affect the value of your property. This is likely to have an even bigger impact if the asbestos is at risk of damage, or if it hasn’t been properly encapsulated (encapsulation is a method of making asbestos relatively safe by covering it in a protective layer which prevents the dangerous internal layer from damage).
A survey would allow you to find such problems and either encapsulate or remove the asbestos, or perhaps more importantly in this case, negotiate a better price for the property taking this work into account.
It may ruin your loft conversion!
Asbestos is highly insulating, and as a result many houses in the 1960s and 1970s used it as loft insulation. Extending the lofts of such properties could be very dangerous and release asbestos fibres into the home.
If you’re buying a home built before 1999, and are hoping to extend the loft, an asbestos survey is crucial.
Older heating systems likely contain asbestos
Older heating systems used asbestos to insulate pipes and boilers. If you’re buying an older property that hasn’t had its heating system updated in a long time, this is a threat you want to be aware of in advance - as safely removing the asbestos will make a heating system upgrade significantly more expensive, and maintaining the old system is likely to be dangerous.
It’s a legal requirement if you’re buying a buy-to-let
While we already covered that asbestos surveys aren’t a legal requirement - landlords do have a legal requirement to shield tenants against asbestos exposure. As a result, an asbestos survey needs to be step 1 of any buy-to-let process.
If you’re planning on extending or modifying the home
Carrying out modification work or extensions on an older home could involve damaging walls or ceilings that contain asbestos. Even outhouse extensions or garage conversions can pose the same risk.
Carrying out surveys and asbestos removal works after you’ve already bought the property, and then carrying out the intended works, is going to rack up a high price.
An asbestos survey before the purchase will allow you to factor this into the price and remove any financial risk to yourself.
It could save lives
While it’s the last reason on our list,and the least technical - it will always be the most important.
Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance that can cause illness and death. Despite its 1999 ban it is still common in many UK homes.Moving into a home or office built before that date without carrying out an asbestos survey is potentially risking your own life and those around you.
Since many homes stand and remain in use for decades or hundreds of years, removing asbestos doesn’t just protect your own life and those of your family - it makes the home safe for any future families who live there after you too. In the same way, neglecting to carry out an asbestos survey could result in your home being unsafe for decades or even generations to come.
Get Professional Help
phs Interclean is one of the UK’s leading asbestos removal companies and offers HSE Licensed Asbestos Removal across the whole of the UK. Both Encapsulation and Removal & Disposal Services are available.
All work will be carried out to current legislation standards and industry best practices.
We have operations centres around the UK, making us your local provider, nationwide. We also offer a tailored service to your own unique requirements and can carry out both services and the required works, in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.Get in touch today!