Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was formerly used in property construction because of its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion.
It was also used as an insulator in roofs and on pipes or electrical wires. Now banned due to its carcinogenic properties, there are still a lot of properties where asbestos can be found. Being able to identify whether you have asbestos in your property is crucial, especially if you are selling it, and should be carried out by a trained professional.
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How do you know if you have asbestos in your property?
If your property was built or refurbished before the year 2000, there is a chance you could have asbestos. The three main types of Asbestos found in residential properties are white, blue and brown.
The three main types of asbestos
If you think that you may have asbestos in your home you might be interested in finding out exactly what type of asbestos you have in your home in order to get it removed.
Below are the three main types of asbestos you're likely to come across:
- Chrysotile (white asbestos): Chrysotile is the most commonly used type of asbestos. The fibres are usually fine, highly flexible and are resistant to heat. It is commonly found in cement and roofing materials
- Crocidolite (blue asbestos): Crocidolite has very thin fibres that can easily get lodged in the lungs, if inhaled. These thin fibres and brittle texture mean that it can easily break down, leading to people being exposed to it which can be very dangerous over time
- Amosite (brown asbestos): This form of asbestos is particularly strong and heat-resistant leading it to be commonly used in cement sheet, plumbing and electrical insulation
All types of asbestos are toxic when released or disintegrating, therefore you will need a specialist to look for and remove any of it within your property.
Where you’ll find asbestos in your home
You can find asbestos pretty much anywhere in the home, but there are a few common places around the home that you may find it. In the below picture it shows the key areas where are specialist will look for asbestos can be found in the diagram below, courtesy of Safe Air Inc.
Here is a list of some of the most common areas you can find asbestos:
- Water tank
- Pipe lagging
- Ceiling tiles
- Artex decorative coating
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Behind a fire place
- Exterior window panel
- Roofs & roofing felt (often from garages)
Can you sell a house with asbestos?
No - it isn't illegal to sell a house that contains asbestos in the UK, although as of 2013 and the Property Misdecriptions Act you are legally obliged to disclose that there is an asbestos presence during the sale. There can be cases where the owner simply is unaware of the presence of asbestos, and if this is the case then there isn't anything you can really do.
Asbestos should be uncovered by a chartered surveyor, so the buyer should be aware anyway.
Do I need an asbestos survey to sell my property?
There is no legal requirements to have an asbestos survey of your property done before you go to market. As mentioned above, the owner could be completely unaware of asbestos in the property & sell it like that.
If the buyer asks whether you can have an asbestos survey done, it's worth noting that they are relatively inexpensive. Getting an asbestos survey on a residential property will typically set you back about £80.
Should I buy a house with asbestos?
Asbestos is a hazardous material & dangerous to human health, which can scare perspective buyers, however it's only dangerous if disturbed and the fibres are inhailed. Asbestos is still very common in a lot of homes in the UK, so there's every chance that a property you are looking to buy has it.
You shouldn't be put off by asbestos, you should just be aware that over a period of time you will need to remove it from the property, although if it's in good condition, you might not need to remove it for a long time, but when you do this will obviously come at a cost.
Is it actually worth buying a house with asbestos?
Yes - you shouldn't let asbestos put you off. Like we've mentioned there is an obvious cost to removing the asbestos itself, but in regards to purchasing a property it is often negligible. If you have identified that the property has asbestos then you might be able to use this as a tool to negotiate the purchase price in order to off set the cost of removal.
If you want to sell your property quickly, but think you may have asbestos issues then we can help. We will carry out a RICS survey and can then advise on the best course of action for removing any asbestos that is discovered. We could buy your property for a fair cash sum and complete in a timescale to suit you so get in touch today to find out more.
Alternatively, contact your local government for advice: GOV Asbestos Advice
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