So you’re planning to renovate your property to keep on top of Brisbane’s growing population and demand for housing. You’re hoping to turn a profit on your house by renting or selling. Good for you! However, there is a serious issue you may need to contend with if the property was built or previously renovated, before 1990, or even as late as 2003. Asbestos. We know, it’s a dirty word! And no one wants to think about it. But it’s so critical that asbestos is considered when undertaking any type of renovation. We provide some helpful advice on how to ensure asbestos doesn’t derail your renovation plans or become a danger to you and your family in the process.
Be aware of asbestos
Asbestos is a fibrous material that, when disturbed and inhaled, can cause a variety of nasty diseases such as lung cancer. Asbestos has been a common insulator in homes for decades and was only banned Australia-wide in 2003. It is still present in many homes, especially around Brisbane. But don’t worry – asbestos is relatively harmless in its whole, undisturbed state. It is only when you start knocking through walls, drilling and generally causing vibrations to disturb asbestos fibres, that they fall loose and your airways are at risk of filling with this innocuous substance. This is why it is essential to check for asbestos in your home before beginning renovations.
Where to find asbestos in your home
There are a variety of places where asbestos may be hiding in your home. But we’ve put together a list of the most common areas where it can be found:
- Roofing – in the cement sheeting, guttering, roof ridge capping and the lining under the eaves.
- Bathroom, toilet and laundry – in the wall cement sheeting.
- Kitchen – under old vinyl floors.
- Living Room – in cement sheeting below hearths and in wall linings.
- Exterior – in brick cladding or flat, patterned and corrugated walls.
How can you tell if it’s asbestos?
So you know where to look for asbestos in your home, but how do you actually know if what you’re seeing is, in fact, asbestos? You can try comparing areas of your property that you think may contain asbestos, to images online. Or enlist the help of a mate who is also a builder, and may be able to identify asbestos with a glance. But the only way to really know for sure is to take a sample of the building material and have it scientifically tested.
Know QLD law regarding asbestos
After you have identified asbestos, it’s then vital that it is removed safely before you begin renovations on your property. Because of the highly sensitive nature of asbestos, and the fact that it can easily be disturbed (transforming into a very harmful substance for all that come in contact with it), there are strict laws regarding its removal from a property. Below we have outlined the chief laws surrounding asbestos removal. If you want to read the full legislation, see here.
- If you are removing more than ten metres squared of bonded (non-friable) asbestos from your property, you must have a certificate from QLD Health.
- If you wish to transport 250 KG or more of asbestos for disposal, you must hold an environmental authority to transport regulated waste.
- Asbestos can only be disposed of at government approved waste sites.
- You cannot use power tools, high-pressure water cleaners, compressed air or regular vacuum cleaners to remove asbestos.
- You must be wearing appropriate safety gear at all times when handling asbestos.
Sounds like a bit of a nightmare situation, doesn’t it? You may be thinking, to hell with your renovation! But there is a much easier way to remove asbestos from your property, to allow for the smooth renovation process that you dreamed of.
Don’t blow your renovation budget because of asbestos
The best way to deal with asbestos in your house efficiently and safely in order to get on with your renovations is to hire a professional to oversee its removal. Ignoring the risk of asbestos will not only cause you extensive money problems in the future, but it will also put you in a lot of strife with the government, and place your health at serious risk. It’s a much wiser idea to deal with asbestos head-on by having a trained asbestos removalist take care of everything from the following of legislation to ensuring the safety of your property and its inhabitants. If you plan ahead, you can factor this service into your renovation budget so that you don’t experience any unforeseen surprises down the track. And really, you can’t put a price on the safety of your home and your family.