Hear the phrase ‘asbestos house’ and you are likely to want to run a mile!
Most people know that asbestos can be dangerous and is highly undesirable in your home, but what exactly is it and how can it affect your home?
Where does asbestos come from?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that are made up of microscopic fibres. It was first mined several thousands of years ago, but grew in popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries as a strong, fire resistant, affordable and sound absorbing building material.
When were houses built with asbestos?
Houses built with asbestos were common throughout the latter half of the 19th century and most of the 20th century, so millions of older properties are likely to be harbouring hidden asbestos.
When did they stop putting asbestos in houses?
A full ban on asbestos house construction was not implemented until 1999.
Is my asbestos house dangerous?
When asbestos gets disturbed, tiny fibres become loose and are easily inhaled. Those fibres can cause significant damage to tissue in the lungs, and have been found to cause a number of severe lung conditions, including cancer.
Concerns about illnesses caused by an asbestos house were first raised more than 100 years ago. People became more vocal about their fears during the 1920s and 1930s. These fears escalated throughout the 1970s and 1980s until the 1990s when asbestos faced strict restrictions on use and was eventually banned altogether.
How do I know if my house has asbestos?
Even the most thorough homebuyer surveys do not include checks for asbestos as standard, so you may not be aware that your property contains the hazardous material. The only way to be sure is to have an asbestos survey carried out on your property.
What does asbestos look like in a house?
Part of the reason it can be difficult for an untrained eye to identify an asbestos house is the number of different forms it can take. Asbestos’s affordability, fire-resistant quality and sound insulating properties mean it has been used for a wide range of purposes. It may be found in many areas of the home, including:
- Asbestos insulation in loft
- Asbestos in walls (insulation)
- Garage roofing
- Cement flooring
- Asbestos ceiling plaster (asbestos ceilings in old houses are particularly common – textured ceilings can be a big clue)
- Textured wall plaster
- Insulation board in partition walls
- Pipe lagging
- Water tanks
- Boiler covers
- Floor tiles and floor tile adhesive
- Guttering and facias
- Window sealant
Are there different types of asbestos?
There are three main types of asbestos.
• White asbestos (chrysotile) – probably the most widely used asbestos in residential properties, white asbestos is used in a wide range of materials. It is white or grey in colouring and was popular for its flexible and strong structure.
• Brown asbestos (amosite) – brown asbestos is usually used in thermal insulation.
• Blue asbestos (crocidolite) – blue asbestos is rare in the UK, but is a textile-like substance that is often used for its heat-resistant quality.
How to check house for asbestos
Asbestos surveys should only be carried out by qualified, accredited surveyors. You can search for local accredited UK asbestos surveyors on the UKAS website.
Found asbestos in my house – what should I do?
Asbestos in the home only becomes dangerous when it is disturbed or becomes damaged as it ages.
If you know (or suspect) that there is asbestos present in your home, the best thing for you to do is continue to monitor it, and call in the professionals if you spot anything that concerns you.
If you plan to do any work to the property that may disturb any area of asbestos, you should contact a professional asbestos removal company and get them to carry out any necessary removal before you begin any other work.
Can I remove asbestos from my own house?
Removal of asbestos is a highly skilled, and potentially dangerous, job. Because of this, it should only be carried out by a professional. You can find more information on this on the Asbestos Information Centre website.
Would you buy a house with asbestos?
Although it can be a worry if you find out a house you are interested in buying contains asbestos, it need not necessarily stop a purchase.
The first thing to do is get a measure of just how big of a problem the asbestos is.
Calling in an asbestos surveyor and getting a thorough report on the scope of the problem will equip you with the information you need to decide whether the property is a project you are willing to take on.
If the area that contains asbestos is in a good state of repair, and you have no plans to do any work to it, there is no reason to remove it. If the area is in a poor state of repair, or if you intend to carry out decorating or renovation work, a professional asbestos removal company will be able to give you an idea of how much it would cost to remove the asbestos and repair the area.
If you are happy to live in the property without disturbing the asbestos, or if you are prepared to take on the cost of having the asbestos removed, there is no reason why you should not move forward with the purchase of the property.
If the asbestos was not disclosed at the point of viewing the property, it may be possible for you to use the discovery of asbestos to negotiate a discount on the property purchase price.
Asbestos disclosure selling house
If you are aware that a property you are planning to sell contains asbestos, you have both a moral and legal responsibility to disclose that information.
The sale of a property is covered by the 2008 Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations. This means a seller is required to inform both their estate agent, and any potential buyers, about anything that may affect the average consumer’s decision to go ahead with the purchase.
When you employ the services of an estate agent, they should ask you to provide in-depth information about the property. This information will include any issues you have with the property, including:
- neighbourhood disputes
- any planned development nearby that you are aware of
- any property development work or renovation (extensions, loft conversions etc) which do not have the correct permissions paperwork
- details of any other issues with the property, such as subsidence or the presence of asbestos
It may be tempting to keep quiet about any potential problems and hope that you don’t get caught out, but it’s simply not a risk you should take. If it becomes apparent that you did not disclose important information about the property, you could find yourself with an expensive failed sale, or worse, find yourself in court.
Will asbestos in my property make it difficult to sell?
There is little doubt that ‘asbestos house’ is a scary phrase to hear in the property buying process. Most people will have heard about how dangerous it can be, but few will be aware of how to deal with it, and therefore it is something that a large number of potential buyers may want to avoid altogether.
If you are trying to sell an asbestos house you have three real options:
1. Get a full asbestos survey done to give potential buyers a good understanding of the scope of the problem and the potential costs involved in having the asbestos removed. The hope is, if you remove ‘the unknown’ from the situation, it will minimise the buyer’s fears and encourage them to move forward with the sale.
2. If you have already tried the first suggestion, or if you don’t want the risk of asbestos sabotaging a sale, you could decide to have the asbestos removed by a professional before you put the property on the market. This will eliminate any issue caused by the asbestos, though it will have both time and cost implications.
3. Your third option is to consider selling your property to a professional home buying company. Because a professional home buyer purchases your property directly (they do not need to rely on mortgages or investors) they are able to make an autonomous decision about whether they are able to purchase your property.
The presence of asbestos is likely to have an impact on the value of your property, as it would on the open market, however, there are several significant benefits of selling to a professional home buying company. You won’t have any of the worry about a sale falling through last minute if the buyers get cold feet, and you won’t have the time delays and financial costs of getting the asbestos removed before you sell. Instead, you will have a guaranteed, hassle-free sale on a date of your choice.
If you are struggling to sell an asbestos house, or you are concerned about trying to secure a sale on the open market, Quick Move Now could offer you a guaranteed sale in as little as 7 days, or on a date that you choose. Quick Move Now will also cover all of your legal costs and guide you through the entire sale process.
For a free, no-obligation cash offer, call Quick Move Now today on 0800 068 3366 or complete our online estimate form.