It is common for a homebuyer report or building survey to highlight the potential presence of asbestos within a property. These reports raise awareness of asbestos risks and in many cases lead people to ask whether an asbestos survey is needed prior to the purchase of a new home.

Why is it advisable to commission an asbestos survey pre-purchase?

Asbestos was commonly used in construction.

Asbestos was widely used in construction and wasn’t completely banned for use in the U.K. until 1999. Its insulating and fire-resistant qualities meant that it was widely used in many applications and surfaces. It can be found in roofing materials, vinyl floor tiles, artex coatings, pipe insulation and boarding to name just a few.

Model house and keys, symbolising a new home.

Asbestos risks and management

Asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) can be considered low risk, if in good condition and not disturbed. Contrastingly, if they are in poor condition or disturbed, they can lead to asbestosis and mesothelioma, two serious, life-threatening illnesses.

Increasingly, individuals request an asbestos management survey, pre-purchase, to confirm the absence or presence of asbestos within a house. This survey type will assess the condition of identified ACM’s and assign a risk rating to them. Your survey report will also include recommendations for how best to manage the associated risks. This may be to label and inspect at intervals or to remove the ACM’s urgently.

Removal of asbestos can be very costly, so this information can be critical in informing your buying decision. Quotations for any required removal works can also be used as a very effective negotiation tool.

Do estate agents and vendors object to the survey being completed?

An asbestos management survey involves a surface level inspection and is non-intrusive. If required, the samples collected are roughly the size of a postage stamp. Where possible samples are taken from inconspicuous locations. Sample points are made safe and painted over where applicable. It is very unusual for vendors to object to a survey being completed.

Will a management survey identify all asbestos within my new home?

Despite the non-intrusive approach, a management survey gives a very good picture of the asbestos that is present within a building. It will confirm most asbestos risks that your new home could present and will safeguard you whilst you live in the property. If you plan refurbishments post purchase, a more intrusive survey should be completed to targeted areas.

Who can carry out an asbestos survey?

Appointing a UKAS accredited asbestos surveying consultancy will help to ensure that you commission a thorough survey, completed by a competent organisation. Their accreditation is subject to regular assessments and helps to ensure that they adopt best practice techniques.

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