Asbestos is a natural mineral commonly used in homes and commercial buildings in the UK from the mid-1800s until 1999, when the government banned it due to serious health and safety problems. Up to 50 percent of homes built before 1999 could contain asbestos.
Materials that contain asbestos can become dangerous if they’re damaged or allowed to deteriorate because they can release microscopic fibres that are easily inhaled. Inhaling asbestos may lead to incurable lung diseases and cancer.
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Asbestos is a highly toxic substance, and if you think it’s in your home, you need to get some professional assistance immediately. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
The cost of removing or encapsulating asbestos depends on the volume of asbestos, the type of material, and its location in your home.
Because asbestos can be toxic, you shouldn’t attempt to repair or remove it yourself. The table below breaks down the costs of removing and encapsulating asbestos:
|Basic survey||From £50|
|Detailed survey||From £200|
|Encapsulation||From £8 per square metre|
|Removal||From £50 per square metre|
|Removing single garage roof||From £380 (excluding sides)|
|Removing double garage roof||From £750 (excluding sides)|
|Removing garage ceiling boards (AIB)||From £1,350|
Asbestos is common in older homes and can be dangerous if it’s damaged or deteriorates. A professional survey can help you determine if your home is affected, where the asbestos is located, and how to address it.
On average, removing asbestos starts at £50 per square metre and encapsulating asbestos starts at £8 per square metre, including labour and materials. Removing an asbestos roof from a single garage costs at least £380.
A basic appraisal of materials starts at £50. An extensive survey of your entire home is likely to cost at least £200.
Once you know there’s asbestos in your home, you can make an informed decision about what to do next. Professional surveyors may recommend one of three options: leaving the asbestos alone, encapsulating the asbestos, or removing it entirely.
Suppose the asbestos is in good condition and in a place where it’s unlikely to be disturbed. In that case, the surveyor may simply recommend leaving the asbestos untouched.
Alternatively, the surveyor may recommend encapsulating the asbestos using a special adhesive. The cost of encapsulation starts at £8 per square metre.
In this process, a professional covers the asbestos using boards, sheets, or a protective adhesive to stop it from releasing harmful dust or fibres in the future. The coating itself costs between £8 and £15 per square metre.
If you don’t want to risk having any asbestos in your home, you may want to remove it—especially if the material is in poor condition. The cost of asbestos removal starts at £50 per square metre, including materials and labour.
As we mentioned above, the cost of removing or encapsulating asbestos depends on how much there is, the type of asbestos, and its location in your home.
For example, removing an intact sheet of asbestos insulating board (known as AIB) from behind a bathroom wall may be less expensive than clearing loose-fill asbestos insulation from a loft.
The choice of whether to remove or encapsulate asbestos may depend in part on whether the asbestos is ‘friable’—meaning that the asbestos is likely to break down, crumble, or chip under pressure. In this state, the asbestos fibres could be released into the air, which is highly dangerous.
For garages, the cost of removing asbestos roofs starts at £380 for a single garage or £680 if the sides are also made of asbestos. For double garages, the cost starts at £750 or £1,800 if it includes the sides.
If the ceiling inside your garage contains AIB, you’ll need to pay upwards of £1,350 to remove the boards.
Once the asbestos is removed, large areas may need to be reboarded, finished, and decorated. Basic reboarding starts at £400 and may cost upwards of £1,000 depending on the size of the space.
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Encapsulating or removing asbestos is unlikely to be the cheapest job you’ll encounter as a homeowner. Still, there are ways to potentially save money.
First, you may be able to save on the cost of disposal if your local council has an asbestos collection programme. Many councils now collect a certain amount of asbestos waste for free or at a reduced price. For example:
Second, some local councils may have grants to help homeowners save on removal costs. If you’re looking to save money, it’s worth contacting your local authority to see if they have any grants in place.
Finally, getting multiple quotes from asbestos professionals can help you find the one that best suits your budget and needs.
Asbestos can be hard to identify visually. Some people compare what they suspect might be asbestos to online images, but this isn’t always accurate since asbestos comes in many forms.
If you’re concerned you might have asbestos at home, one option is to order a home test kit. These kits start at £30 and usually include a set of instructions, bags for the sample, and the cost of laboratory testing.
Because asbestos can release dangerous fibres if disturbed, some companies also offer more extensive test kits that include personal protective equipment (PPE). This can consist of masks, gloves, coveralls, and disposable wipes. These kits are priced from £40.
If you don’t want to risk collecting a sample yourself, you can hire a professional to conduct an asbestos survey. Professional surveys start at £50, though the cost may rise to £200 depending on your home’s age and size.
A surveyor will inspect your home and collect samples of any suspected asbestos. These samples should be sent to a UKAS-accredited laboratory for testing.
Once the result is available, the surveyor will prepare a report that tells you whether asbestos is present, how much of it there is, and where it’s located.
If the samples contain asbestos, the surveyor will document the result on the asbestos register. Usually, the survey cost also includes a risk assessment and a proposed management plan so you can decide how to address the problem.
Whatever option you choose, you (or your surveyor) should wear adequate PPE. It’s also a good idea to protect and seal off the affected area(s) so that asbestos fibres aren’t released around your home during the test or survey.
If you have asbestos at home, it’s helpful to understand what’s involved in treating or removing it.
Since asbestos can release hazardous fibres that can have devastating health consequences, encapsulating or removing asbestos is better left to the professionals.
Before encapsulating or removing asbestos, the affected area should be cleared of all furniture and personal belongings.
A professional should cover the walls and floors with thick polythene sheeting. Doors and vents should be completely sealed off. If you have an air pump system that circulates air throughout your home, you should turn it off to prevent contamination.
The professionals who encapsulate or remove the asbestos must wear PPE, including approved respirators, coveralls, protective eye goggles, boots, and rubber gloves.
Encapsulating asbestos involves mechanically covering the intact material with boards, sheets, or coating it with a special adhesive. This traps asbestos fibres and protects the material from damage. A professional surveyor can recommend the best method of encapsulation.
With mechanical encapsulation, the asbestos is covered using highly resistant boards or sheets. The panels or sheets can then be painted with regular household paint.
Usually, the boards or sheets should be fixed without screws. If screws are required for some reason, then the tradesperson should take appropriate safety measures to prevent the release of asbestos.
It’s also possible to encapsulate asbestos using special adhesives, including penetrating encapsulants, water-based epoxy resins, and high build elastomeric coatings. The choice of adhesive may depend on the type of asbestos and its condition.
In this process, a professional typically applies a thin coating of adhesive or primer to the asbestos, followed by at least one thicker coat. Sometimes, other materials are added between coats to further reinforce the area.
Once the asbestos is fully encapsulated, labels may need to be added to the protective layers to inform others of the presence of asbestos. The area should be periodically inspected to ensure it remains in good condition.
If you decide to get rid of the asbestos from your home, a professional should take the same safety precautions outlined above by clearing the room, covering walls and floors with polythene sheets, and wearing PPE.
The asbestos professional may then gently spray water to dampen the asbestos and minimise the risk of contamination. He or she will remove the asbestos whilst keeping as much of it intact as possible.
Any asbestos that is removed needs to be double-wrapped in plastic wrapping and clearly labelled. Smaller pieces of material may be placed in a special asbestos waste bag.
The asbestos professionals will then wipe the area and use special hoovers fitted with HEPA filters to remove any remaining dust. They should also dispose of all asbestos, cleaning materials, and sheets in accordance with your local council’s regulations.
Once they’ve taken away the asbestos, the contractor should take some final samples to confirm the area is entirely clear.
The amount of time it takes to have asbestos removed can depend on factors such as where it is located and how much of it there is. You should only return home when the asbestos professionals say it is safe.
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One way to find an asbestos professional is through the HSE’s list of asbestos license holders. The HSE has an extensive list of licensed companies that it updates every week.
When you hire a surveyor or contractor, you should ask about their qualifications and training to ensure everyone on site knows how to keep you and your family safe whilst working.
Several organisations offer accreditation and training programmes, such as the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), and the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA), among others.
It’s also a good idea to check that the company is currently licensed by the HSE.
If you hire a surveyor to take samples, the material should be sent to a lab accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
What’s more, anyone who removes asbestos waste from your home should have a Hazardous Waste Carrier license.
Once you’ve checked their licensing and qualifications, you may also want to ask how long they’ve been in business, whether you can speak to any former customers, and how they will keep you and your family safe.
Dealing with asbestos can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re worried about your loved ones’ health and safety. Here are the most important steps you need to take:
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This kind of asbestos is most commonly uncovered in buildings, homes, and garages. It has a strong, flexible structure and a grey or white appearance.
Amosite is also regularly found in buildings, especially for thermal insulation. Amosite may be used in AIB, ceiling tiles, and pipe lagging (insulation), among other uses.
Anthophyllite typically has a green, grey, or white colour. It’s often used for roofing, insulation, rubber, and cement.
This type of asbestos is sometimes used in loft insulation. Tremolite is also occasionally found in paints and soil additives.
Actinolite is used to make cement, paints, sealants, drywall, and insulation. It’s made up of minerals like silicon and iron.
Crocidolite is the rarest form of asbestos. It has a bluish colour, resembles textile materials, and mainly has high-temperature applications.
For example, asbestos may be found in areas such as:
Roofs are a common location for asbestos materials. Garage roofs can be made of asbestos—especially those with a wavy or corrugated appearance. The roofing felt on your home could also contain asbestos fibres.
You might also find asbestos in the ceiling of your garage, either in the form of AIB or a rough-looking sprayed coating.
Artex was a popular coating for ceilings, walls, and floors in the 1970s. It was widely used in part because no special plastering skills were required to apply it.
However, asbestos was one of the strengthening fibres used to create it. If your home has Artex, there is a strong chance it contains asbestos.
Even old vinyl floor tiles can contain asbestos. In some cases, asbestos is in the backing of the tile. In other cases—especially old vinyl tiles glued directly on the subfloor—asbestos could be mixed with the vinyl itself or in the adhesive.
Though asbestos could be hiding in more than one place, there’s less cause for concern if the material is in good condition. If you have asbestos in your home, care and attention, proper identification, and remedial action can keep you safe.
To learn more about where to find asbestos in your home, check out the Health and Safety Executive’s visual guide.
Doctors can treat the symptoms of these diseases, but sadly, these conditions are incurable. Over 500 people in the UK died due to asbestosis in 2018.
Asbestos exposure can also lead to fatal diseases such as mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and the lining around the lower intestine.
In 2018, 2,446 Britons died of mesothelioma. That same year, a similar number of people died of lung cancer related to asbestos exposure.
Given the potential health risks of asbestos, it’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with this substance.
However, the situation can change if you’re planning building work. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 makes employers responsible for ensuring that their employees aren’t inadvertently exposed to asbestos during construction work.
Specifically, section 5 of the Regulations says:
“An employer must not undertake work in demolition, maintenance or any other work which exposes or is liable to expose employees of that employer to asbestos in respect of any premises unless either—
(a)that employer has carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos, what type of asbestos, contained in what material and in what condition is present or is liable to be present in those premises; or(b)if there is doubt as to whether asbestos is present in those premises, that employer—
(i)assumes that asbestos is present, and that it is not chrysotile alone, and
(ii)observes the applicable provisions of these Regulations.”
In other words, if you hire builders or other tradespeople to do demolition or other work around your house, then you may need an asbestos survey. This way, your contractors can be sure their workers are safe on the job.
Before we became aware of the dangers of asbestos, this substance was widely available and seen as an affordable choice. Many builders favoured asbestos due to its strength, insulating properties, and resistance to heat and fire.
Continental Europe followed suit by banning asbestos in 2005. However, the material is still used in various countries, despite the dangers associated with it.
New construction work must follow the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 to ensure that there’s a plan to deal with asbestos and keep workers safe.
The government also updated the Control of Asbestos Regulations in 2012. The UK adopted these new regulations after the European Commission found the government hadn’t fully implemented the 2009 EU Directive on exposure to asbestos at work.
The Regulations require employers to determine whether there is a risk of disturbing asbestos materials. That’s why it’s so important to carry out a survey before work gets underway. Because asbestos can be hidden or unidentified, the Regulations advise employers to assume asbestos is present and to prepare accordingly.
For example, the surveyor might suggest leaving it alone if the asbestos is in good condition and located somewhere where it’ll never be disturbed. However, consulting a professional is the only way to know for sure.
Besides that, encapsulating or removing asbestos can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds, depending on the type and volume of asbestos and where it’s located.
Dealing with asbestos can also cost you time. You may have to remove all your furniture and personal belongings from the affected spaces or temporarily move out of your home until the asbestos is treated or gone.
Ultimately, homeowners need to weigh the costs of encapsulating or removing asbestos against the potential health risks linked to long-term exposure to this mineral.
For more information on asbestos and asbestos removal, take a look at the following pages:
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