Our family is planning to renovate their home. This house, which was built in the 1960s, is in dire need of renovation.

The downstairs extension will be completed and the entire house will be remodeled. This will include rewiring, new flooring and removing a wall partition. We also plan to replaster the walls, install spotlights on the ceilings, as well as re-painting.

A good friend advised us that an asbestos survey be done before we proceed. Asbestos is likely to exist in your home due to the age of it. 

It was flagged as potentially having asbestos in our homebuyers report when we bought it, but it said if we didn’t disturb the asbestos then it wasn’t a risk.

Although we thought we wouldn’t renovate it at the time, we now realize we do need more space. 

When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases

Fibers can be released when asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed. These fibres can be inhaled and cause severe diseases.

We are now terrified about the possibility that asbestos could be in every corner of our home, after reading up on it online.

Given the amount of work that we plan to do, I’d like to find out where asbestos is most common and what danger it could pose if found. 

Do we need a survey? What is the average cost of a survey? How do you choose a reliable firm?

If it does find asbestos in the home, what would it cost and would insurance pay for it to be removed?

It is also possible that the house could be resold in the future. 

Ed Magnus from This is Money responds: Asbestos is a naturally-occuring, microscopic fibre that, if inhaled, can cause severe damage to the lungs. 

The material was used extensively in building materials between 1930 and the mid-80s. However, according to the Health and Safety Executive it can be found in all buildings built before 2000. 

According to the British Lung Foundation, 14 million homes in Britain were constructed when asbestos was used for construction. 

This can go unnoticed for many years, so don’t underestimate the danger of undergoing renovations if it might be in your house. 

Before the health implications of asbestos were known, products containing it were used for all manner of things – as a fire retardant, to lag pipes, in wall and roof insulation, or sprayed on to ceilings and walls as a decorative coating. 

You may have difficulty identifying it because of the way that it mixes with other materials.

While asbestos-containing materials pose little danger if left unaffected, they could be dangerous if disturbed or damaged. 

Inhaled fibres can cause serious conditions such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Although these can take many years, or even decades, they can become fatal once the disease is detected.

What could be the possibility of asbestos in your own home? 


The diagram below shows where asbestos materials may have been found in typical homes. 

A – Asbestos cement water tank. B – Pipe lagging. C – Loose-fill insulation. D – Ceiling with textured decorative coating. E – Ceiling tiles. F- Bath panel. G – Toilet seat, cistern and behind a fuse box. H – Back of a fusebox. I – Boiler and airing cupboard with spray insulation. J – Partition wall. K – Interior panel for windows. L – Around the boiler. M – Vinyl floor tiles. N – Behind fire

According to HSE estimates, asbestos still causes around 5,000 deaths each year in Britain. Twenty tradesmen are killed each week by past exposure.

But despite these terrifying statistics, the risk to your health from short-term exposure to asbestos is very low in most cases. 

If you’ve inhaled a lot of asbestos fibers for a prolonged period, it is more likely that you will develop an asbestos-related disease.

Even though the risk to homeowners is low, prolonged asbestos exposure could be possible if dust fibers remain in a home after renovations. 

Therefore, it is a good idea to arrange an asbestos survey by a professional to minimize your health risks and to ensure that you are protected.

No one wants to live where there is a lot of dust.

Professionals in protective suits remove asbestos-cement roofing underlayment.

Protection suits allow professionals to take off asbestos-cement roofing underneathlayment.

How much do asbestos surveys cost? 

A homeowner can choose between two kinds of asbestos surveys: a management survey and a refurbishment.

Management surveys are the most common asbestos survey. They identify asbestos risk in buildings if they remain as is.

Before any renovation, a refurbishment survey must be completed. This will allow you to determine where work should be undertaken. 

This inspection will be more thorough and may require samples to confirm the existence of asbestos disturbance.

The HSE requires that the areas surveyed in a renovation survey be cleared and then certified fit for occupation. 

Your property’s size will determine the cost. According to the online directory Checkatrade, surveying a two or three-bedroom home using contractors on its site will cost between £100 and £350. 

The cost of removal will be higher. It all depends on how much asbestos you need to remove, where it is located, and what its condition.

According to Checkatrade, you should expect to pay around £50 per square metre to remove asbestos. 

If there’s no danger of the area being damaged or disturbed, it could be enclosed behind another structure. 

You could potentially save considerable money if you do this. 

We spoke with several experts to answer questions and provide answers for our readers. Mark Button, managing director at asbestos management firm ARL Asbestos, Satish PatelThe Asbestos Removal Contractors Association’s training manager, Gary BamburyHead of safety and compliance, AA Woods asbestos removal company Carol O’LearyWright Hassall, Head of Conveyancing at the Legal Firm.

Does the house of the reader contain asbestos? 

Satish Patel replies: Their friend may well be right. Asbestos from the rest of the world was imported into large quantities to Britain. This asbestos was used as raw material in many products like floor tiles and riser panels.

Asbestos fibres can cause lung disease

Asbestos fibres can cause lung disease

Asbestos products were banned in the UK by 1999. This means that this item could have asbestos.

Gary Bambury responds:Asbestos is unlikely to be found in every corner of an individual’s property.

If it’s still present, chances are that it hasn’t been damaged or covered by another material over time. There is therefore little risk.

Asbestos can be used as a fire-retardant material if not disturbed.

Asbestos can be dangerous if it is disturbed. 

Satish Patel replies:It is best to avoid all contact with asbestos dust. 

Fibers made from asbestos can become airborne after they have broken down. 

It can take between 10 and 30 to diagnose asbestos-related diseases.

Mesothelioma is one example of asbestos-related diseases. This disease is nearly impossible to recover from once it has been diagnosed. 

Textured, decorative ceiling coatings can contain small amounts of asbestos

Ceiling coatings with decorative textures can have small amounts of asbestos.

They would be unlikely to find asbestos anywhere else. 

Satish Patel replies: Asbestos could be found within the fabric of the building, or within specific products that might have been installed. 

Some of these common places include flue pipes for boilers and gas or electric meters as well rain water systems and bath panels. 

Which type of survey is best? 

Gary Bambury responds:Before any work begins, I recommend that they conduct a refurbishment survey.

It will also highlight asbestos in the areas of the refurbishment that are not completed before the work begins.

The survey data can be used for obtaining quotes from asbestos companies to remove the asbestos. 

This document should be requested by the contractor who is performing any refurbishment. 

An asbestos survey can cost anywhere between £100 and £900, depending on the contractor the homeowner uses, where they live and the size of the affected area

An asbestos survey can cost anywhere between £100 and £900, depending on the contractor the homeowner uses, where they live and the size of the affected area

Is it possible to estimate the cost of an average survey? 

Mark Button responds:It is often less expensive than you think, and it is usually cheaper than the homebuyers reports that are done when you search for a property.

A simple survey on a two-bedroom property can start as low as £295 plus VAT, and a large property should cost less than £900. 

Builders can’t assess asbestos risks in homes. 

Mark Button There are many types of asbestos-containing materials which were commonly used in properties right up till 2000, and your contractors most likely won’t have the knowledge and experience or training to correctly identify all materials which contain asbestos.

Additionally, asbestos-containing materials cannot be identified in an unapproved laboratory. The samples must then be examined under a microscope.

Where to look for a competent surveyor 

Satish Patel replies:The Health and Safety Executive website is a great resource for finding a skilled surveyor. 

Mark Button responds:An accredited UKAS laboratory is required for any asbestos survey.

It must also follow HSE Guidance HSG264 ‘Asbestos – The Survey Guide’ and hold Professional Indemnity insurance that covers asbestos surveying and testing. 

Basement plumbing pipes wrapped in asbestos insulation. When selling a home that has asbestos in it, the vendor needs to declare it on the property information form

Asbestos insulation wrapped around basement pipes. The vendor must declare asbestos insulation in a property when it’s being sold.

Will home insurance cover asbestos removal?

Mark Button responds:This is unfortunately not covered by a household insurance policy unless it is done following an insured loss like fire, flood, or storm damage.  

Do they have to make it public when selling the product?

Carol O’Leary responds:If asbestos has been identified by the seller, they must disclose this in the property information form.

It is not uncommon for sellers to not be able to tell if it exists.

The sellers are not experts. Therefore, a homebuyers survey must be done regardless of whether a mortgage has been obtained. 

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