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Buying or Selling a Property

Whether your buying or selling a property, the most beneficial thing for both parties to have, is all the information available.

For the buyer, opinions regarding asbestos can range from a small inconvenience all the way up to someone avoiding a property at all costs.

The first point both buyer and seller must accept, is that there is a high chance that a property, built or renovated before 2004, in Australia, will contain some form of asbestos material. The costs of the removal of asbestos material can be used as a bargaining tool when purchasing. Just because most houses contain asbestos, doesn’t make it safe, but on the other hand, it doesn’t mean that there is an immediate risk either.

Here are some important things to know before you decide whether to buy a property with asbestos or not.

When buying a property, having the knowledge of asbestos within the property you are selling can also benefit you greatly, you can be aware of the estimated cost for its removal, which will assist if it is ever used as a bargaining tool from a buyer. The key is to educate both the buyers and seller in an unbiased fashion, so everyone is on ‘the same page’.

Why was asbestos used?

Asbestos has an incredible ability to withstand heat, erosion and decay and it has fire and water resistant properties too, which made it ideal for areas such as bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and outdoor areas. It can be found in a range of products, including roof sheeting, with flashings and capping, guttering, gables, fascia boards, eaves, wall sheets, vinyl flooring, carpet and tile underlays, imitation brick cladding, fencing, and sheds which make up most of a commonly built home pre-2004.

When does asbestos become dangerous?

For information derived from health and safety organisations, if asbestos materials are sealed, undamaged, undisturbed and intact, they are considered generally safe. If asbestos material has been cracked, broken, mistreated, damaged by fire or is in contact with a moving object (such as tree, swing, shade cloth etc.) Particles or fibres may be released, causing a health risk.

How to identify asbestos?

For someone who has had regular dealings with asbestos, they are often able to identify materials they believe to be asbestos, the only way to be 100% accurate is to have the material tested by a registered company. If a building inspection is completed you should ask if it includes the identification of all asbestos material, if so, how to they confirm the material is confirmed ACM (Asbestos Containing Material). We highly recommend LANCALL for any asbestos sample testing.

What to do if a property has asbestos?

In Western Australia, you can only legally remove 10 square metres of asbestos without a WORKSAFE WA license, which is the equivalent of about four fencing panels, or a bedroom ceiling. We do strongly recommend that if you are going to attempt to remove asbestos yourself, you should do your research on exactly what protective clothing and equipment you will need, including the appropriate asbestos vacuum (never use a household vacuum), as well as how the asbestos will need to be packaged, and where to dispose it. *As an estimate for the costs involved for removing a four sheets of fencing (approx. prices) disposable mask – $5, disposable asbestos rated coveralls – $15, safety gloves – $10, safety goggles – $10, 200m black plastic – $25, tape – $5, disposal – $50 (depending on disposal site).

Totalling $120!

This does not take into account your time, the cost of travel to and from the disposal site, hire of a trailer if needed, hire of an asbestos vacuum if required. If you are not wearing the appropriate work boots, they may need to be disposed of as well. The eventual cost may be the same, if not more, than finding a registered contractor.

Ultimately, the presence of asbestos does not need to be a deal breaker for anyone. However, the steps you take when you decide to deal with the asbestos are the most important decisions you may have to make. If you do decide to have the asbestos removed, the last thing you would ever want is to constantly have the thought in the back of your mind, questioning if you made the right choice. Just because someone has an asbestos removal license it does not make them a professional. If you ask around, you will hear a horror asbestos story or two.

Key points you must know with any house you intend to buy or sell

Find out where, the condition and how much asbestos is present.

Contact an experienced, professional and proven asbestos removal company such as Rapid Asbestos Removals, to find out how much it will cost to remove all the asbestos. We can even advise you of control measures you may be able to put in place to minimise any risk if you decide to leave the asbestos where it is.

Asbestos in Typical home