Communal areas include gardens, entrances, corridors, stairs,
landings, hallways, meter rooms, basements, laundry rooms, storage rooms,
anywhere that is shared by more than one tenant, this includes the roof and
external materials (guttering, facia, soffit, roof tiles etc).
Because asbestos was used in many different building
materials, it is quite common to find it houses, bungalows, flats etc, which
were built before 1990. Many materials are not easily recognised as containing
asbestos, because of the different reasons it was used in materials, sometimes
for strength, sometime for flexibility and sometimes and most commonly for its
fire protection and insulation properties. Most are low risk, some may be high risk but
you need to know the difference in order to deal with it and manage it.
Just a Few Materials
Some of the asbestos materials commonly found in
houses are, basement pipework, basement ceilings, basement fire doors,
fire protection of basement stairwell, fire door to basement, bitumen
damp course, vent lining in walls, asbestos cement outer walls, cement
downpipes, cement tiles on canopy, AIB entrance soffit, AIB main
soffit, asbestos cement guttering, asbestos floor tiles and bitumen
adhesive, asbestos paper carpet backing, AIB fire doors, Artex and
textured coatings, AIB door surrounds, AIB ceiling boarding, asbestos
cement ceiling boarding, AIB ceiling tiles, asbestos cement boiler
flue, AIB electric fire plinth and rear panel, AIB fireplace infill
panel, asbestos cement inner walls, AIB garage ceiling, AIB garage
walls, AIB lining of under stair cupboard including door, heating
system pipe insulation throughout, asbestos cement roof tiles and
shingles, asbestos cement guttering, asbestos cement loft tanks,
asbestos cement loft flues, bitumen roof felt, etc etc.
Why Survey Houses
Domestic surveys and sampling are not yet a legal requirement of the
asbestos regulations, unless it is the communal areas of rented accommodation or
council housing stocks.
Domestic surveys/sampling are usually requested by people buying a house who
note that asbestos was mentioned in the building survey and are concerned that
it is either dangerous or will cost a lot of money to remove. Mortgage and
insurance companies have also requested asbestos surveys for similar reasons.
Most asbestos materials in domestic properties are quite safe and should be left
alone unless the material is likely to be disturbed by refurbishment work to the
What not to do!
Don't take the word of a 'helpful' builder, plumber, friends
mate, neighbours cat etc, asbestos is such a huge subject and the risk of
exposure is not worth relying on the word of someone with very limited knowledge
Don't let anyone tell you its the 'safe' sort when its not,
AIB is AIB and Cement is Cement, if disturbed, one (AIB) will give you heavy
dose of lethal fibres the other (cement) will not. If the material is in the way
of building or refurbishment work there is more chance of you being told it's
ok, just so the work can continue. Stand your ground and get it checked out by
someone who knows what they are talking about, it usually doesn't cost anything
and you could save yourself a lot of grief later!.
We carry out single asbestos sampling and full domestic
asbestos surveys, giving the full material risk assessments based on the same
parameters (material information) as the commercial and industrial surveys,
explaining the risk for each material and recommendations for management and
risk reduction. If asbestos removal is required we can provide an
honest and accurate cost for removal based on the current regulations.
domestic asbestos materials can be removed with modest control measures because
of the nature of the material (low friability), honesty is the key here,
as a rough guide, cost can be associated with friability (ability to
release fibres) low friability (not many fibres released) = low cost, high
friability (many fibres released) = higher cost.
What To Do
Having asbestos removed from a property, just because it is
asbestos, is fairly common and quiet understandable because asbestos is an
emotive subject and because of the common knowledge as to the health risks
associated with the material. It is difficult to explain to people that removing
the material actually creates more risk than is necessary, because it is planned
disturbance and unless the very strict control measures are in place to contain
the airborne fibres, exposure and invisible contamination could result.
The Real Risks
It is sometimes difficult to convey to people that
materials in houses are extremely low risk, like floor tiles and cement
sheeting, the fibres are so tightly trapped in the material than even when
broken the material is not going to release much.
On the other side of the coin
we have AIB and Artex (textured ceilings etc) although Artex has a low asbestos
content the most common method of removal is scraping which is very bad for
asbestos materials because the act of removing thin layers of dry asbestos
material increases the amount of fibres released with each scrape.
many other methods for removal that would reduce the risk to a more acceptable
level or we would recommend over-boarding, skimming or removal of the whole
ceiling rather than just the surface coating. AIB contains 30-40% Brown
(Amosite) asbestos and when broken can release a huge amount of asbestos fibres,
we always recommend that it is left alone wherever possible and should only be
removed under strictly controlled conditions, this is where an
appraisal will be of great benefit if a confirmation sample is required.
Domestic asbestos materials are not strictly governed by the
regulations, its down to the individual to determine, which 'expert' to use, how
safe they want to be and how much they want to spend on being safe.