Residential Asbestos Removal

Introduction to Residential Asbestos Removal

In the United Kingdom there are currently no laws or regulations that dictate mandatory residential asbestos removal.  Asbestos remained a popular building product until the late 1990's in Great Britain and is present in many homes and public buildings.

The Health Impact of Asbestos

Approximately 4,000 people in Great Britain die from asbestos related illnesses (including cancer and respiratory diseases such as Asbestosis according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) each year.  Although the substance has been banned for use in building materials in Great Britain for over ten years the use of the hazardous substance was widespread in both domestic and commercial environments.  As awareness of the health risks increase so does the demand for residential asbestos removal as a consideration for many homeowners.  With time, the risk of contamination and negative health repercussions increase as well.

Impact on Property Value

Few real estate properties are purchased without a mandatory home inspection.  The inspector may discover the presence of asbestos around a water heater or other plumbing, or as insulation in the attic of the home.  If the inspector chooses to disclose that the property contains asbestos it may impact the home's property value particularly if the lender then declines to finance as a result.

If a buyer becomes apprised of the presence of asbestos it may become a condition of sale that the owner encapsulate, or warranty the isolation of the material from coming into contact or request a complete removal and re-inspection prior to sale.

Residential vs. Commercial Removal

Residential asbestos removal is more complicated and requires even greater protocols given the nature of the residence.  Asbestos in commercial areas tends to be in a more open and accessible environment that can be controlled during the removal process; for example in the case of the demolition of an old factory.  However for a residential home the square foot area is smaller and the location of the asbestos may be difficult to reach without removal of walls, ceiling or flooring.

Project Cost and Duration

The cost and duration of any residential asbestos removal project varies depending on a number of factors.  The quantity of asbestos to be removed is considered as well as the type of asbestos and the health and safety protocols required for managing the material according to governance.  In the case of highly friable material which requires extensive treatment before becoming safe to handle, the process can be painstakingly slow to avoid contaminating the air with the toxic fibres.  In the event of a vinyl floor removal, the process may involve two or more treatments to remove the vinyl floor (without use of electric tools or sawing devices) and then a second treatment of the mastic (or adhesive) beneath the flooring which would also contain harmful asbestos fibres.

As there are so many parameters affecting the cost and length of residential asbestos removal projects it is best to seek the advice of a qualified technician who can survey the location and quantity and provide a custom quotation.