Asbestos in houses

Asbestos is identified in quite a few of the properties in which we undertake surveys. We particularly find it in those houses that were built between 1930 and 1980 and older flat conversions. Asbestos can appear in the most unlikely of places. Care needs to be taken if you have it, or suspect you have it, in your home.

Where is asbestos found in houses?

Generally speaking, we most often find asbestos in houses in the following locations:

  • Roof soffits (the flat bit between the gutter and the wall) which are made of asbestos insulating board (AIB) and are sometimes covered over with PVC fascias
  • Rainwater goods made of asbestos cement
  • Cold water tanks made of asbestos cement
  • Lining of boiler cupboard doors, especially warm air heating systems, and AIB panels around older boilers often fitted to kitchen units to protect them from heat
  • AIB ceiling linings – especially to integral garages
  • Corrugated sheet roofs to garages
  • Garages as a whole completely formed from asbestos sheet

If in doubt, do not ignore it. ASK and expert. Your life could depend on it.

What are the rules about asbestos for homeowners?

Most asbestos legislation is geared towards asbestos in the workplace and there is little legislation that imposes obligations on homeowners, but it does place obligations upon employers (including building contractors employed by homeowners).

What are landlords’ responsibilities for tenants?

Landlords have a duty of care for their tenants and must minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos whether that is in a domestic or non-residential property. More information can be found in HSE’s Managing Asbestos in Buildings documentation.

Can I remove asbestos myself?

Asbestos does represent a significant risk to health and should be managed carefully whatever the circumstance, particularly its disposal. Fly tipping or dumping of asbestos waste in the bottom of the skip where no-one will see is illegal and subject to punitive fine that may not stop at your contractor.  Certain types in very small quantities can be dealt with yourself, but always check.

How do I know if there is asbestos?

Asbestos can be difficult to identify which is why it always best to seek professional guidance if you are unsure. The HSE website has an image gallery to give you some ideas though.

Is an artex ceiling a risk for me and my family?

Untouched and undisturbed textured coatings, also known as artex, are not considered dangerous to individuals. If it becomes broken, flakes away or is drilled through this can represent a small but increased risk.

Is it safe to drill through, plaster over, or paint an artex ceiling?

If you are planning work on an artex ceiling or a wall with a similar textured coating, you should take care to protect the surrounding area with coverings, and the person undertaking the work should use personal protection equipment. Work can be undertaken by a non-licensed worker, but they should be aware of the risk of asbestos. Specific procedures are should be followed and are all available on the HSE website.

Can I sell my house if there is asbestos?

Yes – there is no reason you cannot sell your house if asbestos is present. The buyer will most likely have a full building survey conducted which would detect asbestos. They may negotiate on the price with you if there are excessive amounts, especially if they wish to undertake work to the property which would be more expensive due to the presence of asbestos.

Will I get a mortgage on a house with asbestos?

Usually, yes. However different mortgage providers might have different policies, and it may also depend on the amount of asbestos present, the type of asbestos and where it is. Always have a survey conducted and get specialist mortgage advice.

Further reading about asbestos

The information in this article is for guidance only. There is no substitute for advice specific to your situation. If this is an old post, the law may have changed since it was written.