Think of your worst nightmare during a home improvement or renovation project. Were you thinking about the possibility of finding asbestos? If not, you probably should have been.
Asbestos in any kind of property can cause huge problems. You must deal with this hazardous material carefully, but what’s the best way to handle it and what’s the average asbestos removal cost in the UK?
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What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to six naturally occurring minerals. Each of them comprises thin, needle-like fibres with various shared characteristics. These minerals are soft, flexible, and impressively resistant to heat, electricity and rust.
There are natural asbestos deposits all around the world. In the case of renovation or home improvement, you’re most likely to come across the following types:
- White Asbestos (Chrysotile) – The most common form of asbestos used in construction pre-1999. This asbestos has a strong yet flexible structure and a white/grey appearance.
- Brown Asbestos (Amosite) – As the name suggests, this form of the mineral has a brown colouring. Brown asbestos was used in many buildings as thermal insulation or pipe lagging.
Asbestos.com is a great source of further information. You can learn about the various asbestos minerals, their former uses and how to identify them.
How Likely are You to Find Asbestos?
If you’re working on a property built in 2000 or later, you shouldn’t find any asbestos. All asbestos materials got banned from use in the UK in 1999. However, there’s a high risk of finding asbestos in older properties.
Its heat-resistant, insulating qualities led to asbestos being widely used in construction. The following are just some of the places where you might find it:
- Pipe lagging
- Loose-fill insulation
- Textured decorative coatings, like Artex
- Toilet seats and cisterns
- Floor or ceiling tiles
- Partition walls
- Gutters and downpipes
Why is Asbestos so Dangerous?
If you find asbestos, it’s crucial to understand its risks. Fibres get released into the air when asbestos gets damaged, disturbed, or deteriorates. If you inhale these fibres, they can lead to a range of serious illnesses, including:
- Asbestosis – Serious scarring to the lungs. Asbestosis generally only develops after sustained, heavy exposure to asbestos. The scarring causes increasing shortness of breath and, in some cases, may be fatal.
- Asbestos-related lung cancer – Asbestos exposure can cause the same cancerous lung mutations as smoking.
- Mesothelioma – Specific cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and surrounding areas. It is exclusively related to asbestos exposure – and by the time it’s diagnosed, it’s almost always fatal.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 20 tradesmen per week die from asbestos-related illnesses. This level of risk explains why it’s vital for you to understand your options when it comes to asbestos removal.
Asbestos Removal Cost UK – What are Your Options?
Always get an asbestos survey if you suspect there’s asbestos. A qualified surveyor can ascertain if and where asbestos is present. This survey also identifies the type of asbestos and its current condition. Your options for dealing with it depend on whether the asbestos is damaged or has deteriorated.
You shouldn’t try removing asbestos because it’s dangerous and possibly illegal. Even if it’s not, improper handling of any asbestos material can be very dangerous. Your options are to hire a professional to remove the asbestos or arrange to have it encapsulated. This is when asbestos gets sealed off and made safe.
Encapsulation is only an option if the asbestos hasn’t yet deteriorated. It’s either boxed away or covered with a coating or sealant to prevent the future release of fibres.
Asbestos Removal Cost UK – 2023 Prices
The cost of dealing with asbestos in your property comes in two parts. You have to pay for a professional asbestos survey and then pay to either have the materials removed or encapsulated.
Asbestos Survey Costs
The cost of an asbestos survey depends on several factors. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Where you live
- The size of your property
- How many samples a surveyor has to test
- The contractor you hire
Unless you’re very fortunate, expect to pay at least £160 for a proper asbestos survey. The current UK average cost stands at around £250. You can check out this handy guide from Wise Tradesmen to find out more.
Asbestos Encapsulation Costs
If your survey reveals encapsulation is an option, this is often the cheapest option. How much any project costs depends on the property, your location, and the extent of the asbestos. A good rule of thumb is to pay at least £8 per square metre of encapsulation.
Asbestos Removal Costs
Having asbestos removed costs more than having it encapsulated. It’s often the only option, as damaged or deteriorated asbestos can’t always be made safe. Removal also deals with the issue permanently, whereas encapsulation is sometimes only a stop-gap solution.
Once again, many factors determine the cost of asbestos removal, including its type, condition and size. Different contractors also charge different rates, so it pays to shop around when getting quotes.
In general, asbestos removal is priced per square metre. You can expect to pay around £50 per square metre on average. However, areas that are harder to reach are more expensive.
This table of real quotes provided at job-prices.co.uk is a great resource for discovering how much real projects cost.
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Asbestos Removal Cost UK – Final Thoughts
Finding asbestos is a DIYer or tradesman’s worst nightmare. This hazardous material is a significant health risk and must be dealt with carefully. If you find asbestos, you’ll need a qualified professional to handle it.