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Asbestos Demolition Survey vs Asbestos Refurbishment Survey: What’s the Difference?


Asbestos surveys are a requirement for any refurbishment or demolition work for any property built pre 2000. To ensure the safety of all workers, you must identify and remove if there is a chance of disturbing the identified asbestos materials within a building before any work starts with an asbestos demolition/refurbishment survey. But what are the differences between asbestos demolition surveys and asbestos refurbishment surveys, and what happens if asbestos is found on your property?

In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know about asbestos demolition/refurbishment surveys so you can determine whether it is the right asbestos survey for your needs.

What are Asbestos Demolition/Refurbishment Surveys?

Asbestos demolition/refurbishment surveys are used to identify and locate asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) before any construction work begins. This asbestos survey should be conducted by a fully qualified, professional surveyor. If asbestos is found in the property, it will need to be removed if likely to be disturbed by planned works depending on whether you are planning for refurbishment or demolition.

Rules and Regulations of Asbestos Surveys

As set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulation 7), ACMs must be removed or made safe and known to workers before any building work is carried out. Building work can include major refurbishment, alterations, structural refurbishments, intrusive maintenance, or demolition. 

The only way to be sure that your responsibilities have been met is to carry out a specific Asbestos Refurbishment/Demolition survey for the job that is planned. A more general and surface-level Asbestos Management Survey will not be enough.

Asbestos Demolition/Refurbishment Surveys: The Differences

Asbestos demolition surveys and refurbishment surveys have the same elements but still differ. Some of the key differences between these asbestos surveys are:

Aims of the Survey

Asbestos Demolition Survey:

This survey aims to identify and locate all ACMs in the area that is being refurbished so they can be safely managed and taken into consideration when refurbishment is conducted.

Asbestos Refurbishment Survey:

This survey aims to identify and locate all ACMs so they can be safely managed and taken into consideration when refurbishment is conducted.

Reasoning for the Survey

Asbestos Demolition Survey:

This asbestos survey needs to be conducted before demolition or structural refurbishment. It identifies all asbestos in the materials that are being demolished, so that they can be disposed of according to specific guidelines. 

Asbestos Refurbishment Survey:

This survey should be conducted if you are planning to carry out any major refurbishment or alterations. It informs workers of any hazards and ensures their safety.

Areas Surveyed

Asbestos Demolition Survey:

The whole building (or the whole section that will be demolished) must be surveyed and in an intrusive manner to ensure all possible ACMs are located.

Asbestos Refurbishment Survey:

Only the area that is being refurbished needs to be surveyed and only to the extent of any possible disturbance of materials.

The Asbestos Survey Process

1. Initial Walk-Through

Before any samples are taken, one of our team will conduct an initial walk-through to assess any potential risks and locate any areas that may need more invasive testing or sampling.

2. The Survey is Conducted

A team of surveyors will conduct tests around the property to determine whether ACMs are present. For asbestos demolition/refurbishment surveys, the type of sampling techniques are more intrusive. Our surveyors are experts in what they do, so they can easily locate any areas where they think potential ACMs are likely to be located.

3. Asbestos Samples Sent to the Laboratory

All samples that were collected are sent off to an independent UKAS accredited laboratory to be analysed. The samples are then tested to see if they are positive for asbestos and if s, and the type of asbestos present..

4. Asbestos Survey Results

Once all the samples have been analysed, the results will be compiled with the survey data in an asbestos report. This will detail all the locations of ACMs and provide guidance on how to manage or remove the ACMs safely. For refurbishment work, the decision on whether to manage or remove the asbestos depends on factors such as its condition and likelihood of it being disturbed. These determine the level of risk.

For building work to be carried out, the asbestos results must have the outcome of “fit for reoccupation”. 

Asbestos Sampling Techniques

It is important that the whole area is vacated during an asbestos demolition/refurbishment survey, as this particular type of survey uses destructive sampling techniques. This can include:

  • Removing floorboards
  • Breaking into floor voids, wall cavities and ceiling voids (we stop at concrete unless it’s a hatch).
  • Removing pipes or insulation
  • Creating holes in walls or cladding
  • Breaking above ceilings, stripping the building back to brick where necessary

These techniques enable surveyors to access areas that are hard to reach, ensuring all potential ACMs are located before any building work is carried out. Refurbishment surveys are tailored to the clients requirements but will still involve instructive investigations. After samples are collected, the building may be unfit for normal operating activities, meaning you should account for this before booking an asbestos survey.

What If Asbestos Is Found?

If asbestos is identified, there are a couple of steps you must take before any building work can begin. For demolition projects, all ACMs must be removed safely by a professional asbestos removal company. This will ensure the safety of any workers on the demolition project. And, it ensures that the asbestos waste is separated from general waste and disposed of appropriately. 

For refurbishment projects, the building must be safe for the workers to enter and complete their intended work. This can mean either the asbestos is removed or managed, depending on the advice of your asbestos consultant.

Any asbestos that is to be managed will need to be added to your asbestos register and asbestos management plan. It will require ongoing monitoring and regular (often annual) reinspection.

Organise an Asbestos Demolition/Refurbishment Survey Today

It is a legal requirement to remove all ACMs before the demolition of a building and to identify and manage ACMs before refurbishment can take place. To ensure your workers are safe from asbestos, book an asbestos demolition or refurbishment survey today!

At Environmental Inspection, we specialise in all things asbestos. From asbestos surveys to Project management of asbestos removal (tenders and project management) and asbestos management, we are here to help your business no matter what asbestos-related problem you have. Get in touch with our team today to book an asbestos survey.

Asbestos Demolition/Refurbishment Surveys FAQs

How do I get an asbestos survey?

All asbestos surveys must be conducted by a trained professional. This is to ensure your safety as well as that of others. Additionally, an experienced asbestos surveyor can use their knowledge to identify the potential locations of ACMs in a building, ensuring all areas that are required to be analysed are sampled. These samples must be sent to an UKAS accredited laboratory for testing. Contact our asbestos surveyors like ourselves to book an asbestos survey. We work with a UKAS-accredited laboratory that independently analyses and reports on samples.

Do asbestos surveyors need to be qualified?

Asbestos surveyors must hold formally recognised qualifications such as the Surveying and Sampling Strategies for Asbestos in Buildings qualification or the  Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Level 3 Award in Asbestos Surveying. We also hold the BOHS P405 Management of Asbestos in Buildings (including Asbestos Removal) and have experience to conduct asbestos surveys and provide ongoing asbestos management.

At Environmental Inspection, we hold a number of qualifications including the above and others relating to asbestos removal and analytical work. Also Health and Safety in general (NEBOSH and IOSH).

We are members of CHAS and are part of respected industry bodies such as the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants (NORAC).

What are the dangers of breathing asbestos fibres?

Asbestos can make you ill and increase your risk of developing serious diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. This is why it is crucial to identify and locate any ACMs before completing building work to ensure the safety of all workers on demolition or refurbishment projects.

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