Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that was used extensively in the construction of many old buildings.

Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation and around boilers, pipes or fireplaces. Many ceiling and wall coverings can also contain asbestos and it’s commonly found in garages built between the 1930s and 1990s and in particular, garage roofs.

This nasty substance, once hailed as the heat insulation material of the future, is responsible for over 5000 deaths every year. The disturbance of certain types of asbestos products can cause significant risks to health.

If asbestos is found to be present in a building, then it needs to be removed in a safe and controlled manner by a registered asbestos removal contractor.

What they do

An asbestos removal expert will carry out the following jobs to make sure your home is safe:

Asbestos repair

It is not always necessary to remove asbestos from its current location. Asbestos repair followed by encapsulation can manage and prolong the life of your asbestos containing materials. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive recommends that it is left in situ and managed as long as it is in a good condition. In certain cases, repair is a good idea to save time, hassle and expense.

Asbestos encapsulation

If the asbestos is in a relatively good condition, asbestos encapsulation is a fast and cost-effective alternative to expensive removal. This safely embeds the asbestos into a protected adhesive using shielding materials or through chemical manipulation.

Asbestos removal and disposal

Removing asbestos safely requires care and skill to avoid damaging the asbestos cement and releasing the fibres into the atmosphere. During the removal process, asbestos specialists lift and lower materials without breaking it, then dispose of it safely.

Asbestos air monitoring and analysis

Asbestos becomes harmful when its fibres enter the air and can be inhaled. To ensure a house contains safe levels of asbestos during, before and after asbestos removal/maintenance work, a qualified surveyor will need to carry out asbestos air testing.

What they charge

A full survey of the entire home to identify all asbestos present will usually start at around £200. Initial removal of a sample of the material for analysis should be around £50. The cost of asbestos removal works out at around £50 per square foot depending on the size and difficulty of the job. Encapsulation should cost around £8 to £15 per square foot of asbestos.

Garages, often where asbestos lurks in a domestic situation, will cost between £400 and £1800 to safely dismantle and dispose of, depending on how much asbestos is present and how big the garage is.

Several local councils will charge you a small amount to get rid of asbestos and will occasionally provide this service for free to avoid fly tipping.

What to ask

As asbestos is such a dangerous material and a large amount of legislation has been introduced to make sure it is safely dealt with, the most important question to ask is whether or not a company is licensed by the HSE. You can also check this on the HSE website.

Trades to trust

When selecting possible asbestos surveyors or removal and disposal companies, check for the following accreditations or memberships:

  • The Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association (ATaC) is a respected a trade body dedicated to promoting professionalism and safety throughout the asbestos testing and consultancy industry
  • The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association is the UK’s leading association representing the interests of asbestos removal contractors and associated businesses
  • Asbestos surveyors should be accredited with UKAS, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service
  • The Environment Agency can also offer advice on dealing with this hazardous material

The law

If asbestos is found when carrying out renovation or repair, work should stop immediately, and you or the builder should confirm what it is or assume it is asbestos and hire an accredited asbestos contractor to carry out a risk assessment.

The HSE’s Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 require that work with the most hazardous asbestos-containing materials can only be carried out by companies licensed by them. In certain cases, minor jobs can be carried out by non-licensed contractors. Find out more here.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different asbestos contractors to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references or photos from previous jobs.