So you’ve found your dream home (or close enough!) but you’ve also found out it contains asbestos…what should you do?
Firstly, don’t jump to conclusions. Just because it has asbestos, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad house to buy. But it is good to understand what it might mean and this depends on a number of factors:
When we are looking at the location of asbestos materials, we take into account both the room/space it is in and the position within that room. For example, if asbestos is found in the toilet this is a small room and could be easier to manage than in a large living room.
Position wise we look to see if that is an area that could be disturbed easily or not – an example is asbestos cement board soffits versus asbestos cladding on a shed. The soffits are an area that would generally be relatively untouched and therefore less likely to be disturbed, where as a shed is a space that is probably used quite frequently and would be more likely to be disturbed.
2. Material Type
When we look at material type, this is checking if the asbestos material/s is bonded (non-friable) or non-bonded (friable).
Bonded (non-friable) asbestos products such as cement boards, vinyl, plastic composites (e.g. electrical flashboards) and bitumen waterproofing are commonly found in houses. When these products are in good condition, they present a very low risk for people who are in contact them provided they are not severely weathered or disturbed e.g. through drilling or cutting.
Non-bonded (friable) asbestos products such as textured ceilings and loose fill insulation do present a higher risk as they are loosely held within the product. However, textured ceilings can be a lower risk if they are painted (sealed) and in good condition.
This depends on the type of product (cement board versus textured ceiling), whether it is painted or sealed and if there is any damage to the material. A severely weathered cement board or super six roofing which is unpainted could present a higher risk than a textured ceiling, which is in very good condition and painted.
4. Your future plans (i.e. renovations etc)
If you are planning on doing renovations, it is worth noting where you would like to do them and which material/s you could disturb. Generally speaking, removal of bonded asbestos products is cheaper than non-bonded asbestos products as there are much higher controls for removal of friable products as they present a much higher risk.
Still think the house is worth pursuing? Here are some pros and cons to consider when buying a house with asbestos:
- Could negotiate a lower price
- Asbestos materials present a low risk if they remain undisturbed and in good condition
- Nearly all pre-purchase asbestos surveys are non-intrusive meaning that hidden asbestos may not be found
- The surrounding soil could be contaminated due to asbestos in poor condition or buried asbestos
- Removal can be expensive
- An asbestos survey and management plan are required if you intend renting it out
Still undecided? Feel free to give us a call for a bit of extra advice and management options before you put in the offer.