Renovating or Rebuilding?
If you're renovating or rebuilding your home, as part of your Development Application (DA) documentation your local council may require an Asbestos Inspection before giving you a Construction Certificate.
Different councils have different requirements and use different words. You may be asked for an:
- Asbestos Inspection
- Asbestos and Hazardous Materials Inspection
- Asbestos Survey
- Asbestos and Hazardous Materials Survey
Whatever your council requires, Airsafe can provide you with all the necessary documentation to meet council requirements and start the construction process faster.
Even if your council hasn't asked you for it, Airsafe is happy to quote on doing an asbestos inspection for your home. An inspection will give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly where any asbestos exists in your house, whether you need to take any safety precautions around it right now, and whether you need to have the asbestos professionally removed before any future renovations.
Our comprehensive survey doesn't just identify asbestos. It also identifies:
- Lead in Paint
- Synthetic Mineral Fibre
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls
On this page:
A typical asbestos survey with Airsafe goes like this:
- Fill in our quote request form.
- Our consultant will examine your details and provide a quote.
- One of our fleet of inspection vehicles will be dispatched to your home, anywhere in Sydney.
- Specialist consultants will take samples for testing in our NATA-Accredited lab.
- The location, extent, and condition of asbestos materials is determined.
At the end of Airsafe's asbestos inspection, you'll receive a comprehensive survey report. The survey report will contain:
- An easy-to-read Executive Summary of key findings and recommendations
- An outline of what the survey consisted of and the methodology used
- General information about asbestos
- A list of all asbestos found at your home
- A detailed list of recommendations
- Photographs of areas where asbestos was found, for easy identification
- Laboratory reports showing results of asbestos testing
One of our recommendations might be professional asbestos removal. If that's the case, Airsafe can recommend a reputable asbestos removal contractor who won't cut corners.
Unfortunately, we often hear stories of asbestos survey reports not being accepted by councils because of a lack of detail, or because of a failure to conduct sufficient testing.
Over more than 20 years, Airsafe has built a reputation within the asbestos industry that's second to none. Our survey reports are accepted as definitive by SafeWork, local governments, and other authorities.
We don't cut corners on our surveys, and because we have our own NATA accredited laboratory, we'll test as many samples as we need to until we're satisfied that we have a complete picture of your home's asbestos containing materials.
Don't take chances with something as serious as asbestos.
Most of us have heard of asbestos, but not everyone fully understands what it is. Simply put, asbestos refers to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Among these, chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite asbestos are the most common.
Different types of asbestos can look very different from each other:
Asbestos fibres are small but powerful, used frequently in building and manufacturing during the twentieth century due to the material's low cost and high durability. The highly heat-resistant fibrous mineral was often woven into fabrics, and used in a variety of different fire-resistant and insulating materials.
But in the 1970s use of asbestos sharply declined, when it became evident that the mineral had the potential to threaten human health and safety.
If you're thinking about renovating your home, it is important to be aware of asbestos. Given the wide use of the mineral in the early twentieth century, the potentially deadly fibres can be found in more places than you think.
Asbestos can be loosely or firmly bound. In older Australian homes, asbestos may be found in:
- Exterior fibre cement cladding (AC or fibre) and weatherboards
- Artificial brick cladding
- Flexible building boards—eave linings, bathroom linings, cement tile underlay
- Corrugated cement roofing
- Flue pipes
- Architectural cement pipe columns
- Textured paint
- Vinyl floor tiles or coverings
Outside the home, asbestos could also be found in:
- Backings for electrical meter boards
- Insulation for hot water pipes and tank
- Garden sheds
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The risk of contracting these diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled. The greater the exposure, the greater the chance of developing an asbestos-related illness.
In the past, people who have suffered adverse health effects from exposure to asbestos have generally been employed in the asbestos mining or milling industries, or in fields of work that are involved in making or installing asbestos products. But there are concerns about a new wave of asbestos disease among homeowners who (perhaps inspired by TV shows) have joined the renovations craze without taking proper precautions, starting with an asbestos inspection.
Finding that your home contains asbestos products does not mean that your health is immediately at risk. If products containing asbestos are in a sound condition, there may be no immediate concern.
However, if you think you may have found asbestos in your home, it’s a good idea to get it inspected in order to assess the potential risk.
Asbestos can be found in either friable or bonded (non-friable) form. Friable asbestos products are generally quite loose, and are far more likely to crumble into a fine material or dust with the application of very little pressure.
Friable asbestos products usually contain high levels of asbestos (up to 100% in some cases), which means more potentially deadly particles that can be easily released into the air. For this reason, these products in particular are incredibly hazardous. Loose, airborne particles may be inhaled by people living or working in the vicinity.
Examples of friable asbestos-containing materials may include:
- pipe lagging
- boiler insulation
- fire retardant material on steel work
- sprayed insulation
It's not a simple distinction, however: even non-friable forms of asbestos can become friable due to long-term weathering. This is often an issue with corrugated asbestos roofing:
Airsafe's asbestos inspections will identify both friable and non-friable asbestos. We'll often recommend special precautions for friable asbestos, especially around removal and disposal.
Any samples that are collected during an inspection will be tested in our state-of-the-art laboratory. However, Airsafe also offers asbestos testing as a separate service. If there's one particular area in your house that you think might contain asbestos, you can collect a sample yourself (taking the precautions we outline on our asbestos testing page), and bring it to Airsafe for testing.
So, should you have an asbestos inspection, or send an asbestos sample in for testing? The answer depends on a few questions:
- How localised is your suspected asbestos?
- How comfortable are you taking your own sample?
- How extensive are your plans to renovate?
- Does your council require an inspection?
Let's take each of these in turn.
How localised is your suspected asbestos? If there's only one small area of your house where you're worried about asbestos (say you've accidentally knocked a hole in the wall), and it's only one type of material you're worried about, then it's fine for you to take a sample yourself and have it tested. On the other hand, if it's a large area of the house you're concerned about, or there's more than one type of material involved, it's best to get an inspector to take a look. In some cases, multiple samples need to be tested. In other cases, we might recommend advanced safety measures while waiting for testing results.
How comfortable are you taking your own sample? Although taking a sample following our recommended procedure is easy and safe, some people understandably don't feel comfortable doing this themselves. In particular, you might prefer not to crawl around in dusty or hard-to-reach places to take a sample. Our asbestos inspectors are trained in taking samples safely, even from tricky nooks and crannies.
How extensive are your plans to renovate? Are you just replacing some lino in your kitchen? Or are you knocking down walls, building extensions, or otherwise making major structural changes to your house? The more extensive your renovations, the more it makes sense to have a full asbestos inspection.
Does your council require an inspection? This one is easy! If your council requests an asbestos or hazardous materials inspection, survey or audit as part of obtaining a construction certificate, they need a full report from an expert who has inspected the property in person. They won't be satisfied simply with test results from individual samples.
If you're in doubt, there's never any harm in requesting an asbestos inspection. We're happy to quote on doing an inspection even if it's just to put your mind at rest. You should never worry that your concerns are too trivial to get us involved.
You might have seen news stories about the recent discovery of loose fill asbestos insulation in some NSW homes, having been originally installed in the 1960s and 70s by the ACT-based business Mr Fluffy.
If you think your home might contain loose fill asbestos insulation, your best course of action is to call Airsafe on (02) 9555 9034. We'll organise for one of our Licensed Asbestos Assessors to visit your home. They will inspect your ceiling and take samples for testing in our state of the art laboratory.
Our asbestos inspectors are the most experienced in the business. They can give you reliable advice about what to do if your home does turn out to contain loose fill asbestos - whether that means taking part in the NSW Government's Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program, or keeping your home and taking steps to minimise the danger of exposure to asbestos.
Please note, the NSW Government free testing program for loose fill asbestos has now finished. The costs of inspection and testing will be your responsibility, but you'll find Airsafe's rates very reasonable.