When you uncover asbestos, it can have a big impact on your house renovation costs. Follow these tips and guidelines for dealing with asbestos quickly and effectively.
The devastating effect of asbestos exposure on human health is well-documented. Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma and the risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled.
Asbestos in the home
As late as the 1980s, asbestos products were still widely used in the Australian building industry. Naturally occurring, asbestos was popular in construction because of its flexibility, strength, insulation properties and affordability.
Finally banned in 2003, the widespread use of asbestos has left a nasty legacy, with roughly a third of all homes built in Australia containing asbestos products.
As a general rule, if your house was built before 1990, it’s likely to contain asbestos in one or more of the following areas:
- Fibro sheets
- Water pipes
Dealing with asbestos: time to call in the experts?
The good news is, undisturbed asbestos presents very little risk to human health. But how do you deal with asbestos in the home if you’ve got some great renovation ideas?
Before starting any DIY renovation work where you believe asbestos is present, assess the size of the job and your ability to dispose of it safely. If you have any doubts, hire a licensed asbestos removalist. Anyone who tests, handles and removes asbestos from your home needs to be licensed and this applies throughout Australia.
If you’re not sure if asbestos is present, employ a licenced asbestos removalist to assess your property and carry out tests as necessary.
So how much does it cost to remove asbestos?
Costs of removal are often on a rate per square-metre depending on the type and amount of material being removed. These costs can vary considerably, especially in cases where hidden asbestos is discovered under roof sheets or in other areas of the property. Once removed, you should always make sure you see the tip fee receipts and certificates of clearance.
If you’re employing a builder to renovate your property, they should take care of asbestos removal for you and include this in your house renovation costs. Make sure you have a list of questions to ask your builder or licensed contractor about how the process of asbestos removal may affect you and your family, so you can limit any risk of exposure.
DIY asbestos removal
The Department of Health has a great renovation checklist for homeowners preparing to deal with and dispose of asbestos in their home. You’ll need to be equipped with all the necessary safety and personal protective equipment from your local hardware store, including:
- Respirator: Ordinary dust masks will not protect you from inhaling asbestos fibres and dust. You need to purchase half-face filter respirators appropriate for asbestos compliant with AU/NZ Standards.
- Disposable clothing: Disposable overalls need to be worn to prevent clothing and footwear contamination. Hoods or hats and gloves should also be worn. Your local hardware will be able to advise you on suitable clothing.
Have you had problems dealing with asbestos during your renovation? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.
For more information on dealing with asbestos in the home contact your local council or visit the Department of Health website.