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What home buyers need to know about asbestos

Home buyers asbestos information

Asbestos can be present in any building constructed prior to 1999.  There are a huge number of different materials that can contain asbestos.

All such materials are potentially hazardous, but some materials, and some types of asbestos are worse than others.

The other important thing to know when buying a home, is that you cannot assume a survey has been done to look for asbestos. The law doesn’t require it, so the onus is very much on you.

Legislation is minimal, unless the property is let as a ‘HMO’ (House in Multiple Occupation), or the owner is contracting someone to do work on the property, such as building work. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 do not otherwise cover residential properties.

If there is any uncertainty, then an Asbestos Management Survey (detailed below) is the recommended way to identify any potential asbestos items within the surface layers of the property. It is comprehensive, but non-intrusive, so no drilling, or mess, as would be the case if doing refurbishment.

Not all asbestos needs to be removed. If it is stable, and undamaged, it may not cause any harm, and may be better left alone. A well-trained surveyor will give guidance on the appropriate management of Asbestos Containing Materials in-situ under normal occupancy.

What to do if you suspect you have asbestos items in your home

If you are buying a home built before 1999, and have not been provided with results from a suitable survey, or if your home buyers survey has flagged an item, or you fancy a little DIY, but suspect something may be asbestos based, don’t chance it!! Get a trained asbestos surveyor to check it out.

There are two different types of Asbestos survey:

  • Asbestos Management Survey.
  • Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition Survey.

Asbestos Management Survey

An Asbestos Management Survey is the standard survey, and is not intrusive.  The purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence of suspected asbestos, and determine its extent. The survey will also assess the condition of such materials.

These materials could become a hazard if damaged, or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation.

The assessment of the condition of Asbestos Containing Materials shows their likelihood of releasing fibres into the air, if disturbed. This is known as a ‘Material Assessment’. The score given will be a good initial guide to the priority for managing Asbestos Containing Materials.

Information from the survey is documented within the asbestos register, located in the asbestos survey report.

An Asbestos Management Survey will often involve minor physical sampling work. We use our experience to do this in inconspicuous locations where possible.

Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition Survey

It is strongly recommended that an Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition Survey is carried out before ANY refurbishment or demolition work in buildings built pre-1999.  It is required if you are the homeowner employing someone to undertake the work.  If it is a DIY project, it is not legally required, but it is strongly recommended, as you will not want to expose yourself, or others.

This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all Asbestos Containing Materials in the area in which the refurbishment work will take place. It will cover the whole building if demolition is planned.  The extent of intrusive inspections will be determined by the nature of the planned work.

Our approach is to be considerate, and deliver the survey in stages if this suits, as work progresses.

It is worth organising the survey in advance of planned work, so that there is time for the report to be prepared and issued.

What you should look for in a good survey report

The information should be tailored to your specific requirements.

Findings should be clear, and easy to understand.


For a more detailed conversation about your requirements, or concerns, please contact Environmental Inspection.


All Asbestos Surveys undertaken by Environmental Inspection are carried out in line with current Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), and Health and Safety Executive Guidance HSG264:  Asbestos the Surveyors Guide.

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