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Asbestos in our homes: Making them safe

May 25, 2017

asbestos in a knock down rebuild

In our last blog, we talked about the history of asbestos in the ACT.

This week, we want to share with you a few tips on what to do if you find (or suspect) asbestos in your house. We’ll also cover what happens to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure during a knock down rebuild.

If your home was built before 1987, there is a high likelihood that it has asbestos in it.

Asbestos is usually found in:

  • Wall sheeting
  • Insulation
  • Floor and roof tiles
  • Roof shingles and flashing
  • Eaves
  • Pipe cement
  • Window putty

It’s generally recommended that you don’t touch materials that you suspect contain asbestos. Undisturbed, they do not usually present a health risk.

However, you should keep an eye on them. If they begin to show wear and tear (meaning there is a high likelihood they are releasing asbestos particles into the air), then it’s time to call a licensed professional. There are a number of quality services in the ACT that provide asbestos inspections, testing and consulting services.

If you find that the material does contain asbestos, and it is falling apart, then you will need to consider options – such as booking a licensed asbestos removal service, and finding a builder or tradesperson who can replace it with newer, safer materials.

If you find loose particles in the garage or other areas of the home, you can place a small sample into a sealable plastic bag and take it to a licensed testing centre. They will be able to confirm whether or not it contains asbestos, and then you can decide what to do.

Asbestos presents the greatest risk during renovation or demolition, because it is during this process that the material breaks apart and the fibres are released into the air.

Whatever you do, do not undertake a home renovation on areas you suspect contain asbestos without calling a professional.

Not only is it illegal, but it can be incredibly dangerous to you, your family and even your neighbours.

Asbestos removal during a renovation may cost between $5,000 and $10,000 (more if there are significant amounts).

In the case of a knock down rebuild (especially if the home is particular old), there is a high likelihood that asbestos will be present. Because of this, an asbestos survey is an inclusion in the knock down rebuild process, and will help identify any and all areas of the house that contain asbestos.

If asbestos is found, the house cannot be demolished until the materials have been safely removed by a licensed professional. This generally takes 1-2 weeks and costs between $15,000 and $20,000. Once an independent contractor has verified that it is safe to proceed, demolition can begin.

All of these precautions serve to protect the people working on the site, as well as anyone living near the site. Inhaling airborne particles of asbestos can lead to serious health complications, so diligence and care is extremely important.

If you are concerned about asbestos in your home, don’t hesitate to call a licensed asbestos contractor. They can survey and test it for you, and provide important advice on how to handle it.

You might also like to watch our video on Asbestos Removal.

For more information about building in the ACT, or the knock down rebuild process, please call Rosin Bros on 6247 4799 or email info@rosinbros.com.au.

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