Asbestos was once valued as an integral material in construction — but the sheer utterance of it now sends shivers down the spine of potential buyers and sellers.
The once-popular fibrous product has gone from ‘hero to zero’ in the property world, owing to its now hazardous and dangerous reputation.
Though some misconceptions and negative connotations might suggest otherwise, it is not actually illegal to sell a house with asbestos.
Do I need an asbestos survey if I’m selling my home?
There are certain parameters that can help distinguish whether your property is likely to be masking some form of asbestos.
If your dwelling was built pre-Millennium, then there’s a good chance that asbestos, in one of its guises, may be present, while the construction type may also be a giveaway.
While there’s no legal obligation for the homeowner to commit to having an asbestos survey, it’s often better to be safe than sorry, particularly if your property fits the aforementioned profile.
In some cases, the information that the seller is obliged to disclose prior to any transaction will already be known to them. This may have been divulged by a chartered surveyor upon their own purchase of the property.
In this instance the seller would be responsible for imparting any knowledge of asbestos being detected, otherwise the person/people in question would be liable for withholding key details and may face prosecution.
At this point, further expertise from a qualified professional is essential. Employing a specialist with an eagle eye and a golden touch can sometimes be costly, but they’re worth their weight in gold in these circumstances as they’ll save you a headache in the future and any other associated expenses.
The three types of survey that can be carried out are: an asbestos management survey, an asbestos refurbishment survey and an asbestos demolition survey, all of which determine its exact location, amount and condition, detailing any potential threat associated with it. Floors, walls, ceilings etc, will be inspected, with any samples sent off for analysis.
It is worth adding that asbestos does not pose a health risk if it is considered to be in good condition, it is only when the fibre has been damaged or disturbed that it becomes an issue.
If it’s the former, and any presence is deemed safe, then the law merely requires the seller to disclose the information to potential buyers, who will decide for themselves whether or not the purchase of the property is worth pursuing.
If it is believed to be a hazard, on the other hand, then the seller might opt to cover the expense of its removal prior to their home going on the market, or they may reduce the valuation of the property.
Here at Hull Cash Buyers, we would implore the seller to do any due diligence in order to avoid experiencing any little/inconvenient surprises along the way.
What are the main signs your house has asbestos?
Some of the most common indicators of asbestos include:
- The age of the building: Asbestos can be found in any residential or industrial building built or refurbished before the beginning of the 21st century. Though a partial ban was passed in Parliament in 1985, the material was still used in the UK homebuilding industry until 1999.
- Health: Exposure to asbestos fibres, which can occur if the offending material is disturbed, can prove fatal, though symptoms can take decades to develop. Mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis are all asbestos-related illnesses. Any signs of ill health, including breathing difficulties, could be a sign that you have come into contact with the hazardous material.
- Boiler/pipe insulation: Asbestos was heavily used in UK property construction as it was fire resistant and an insulator for electricity and heat. As a result, piping systems would sometimes contain asbestos while many boilers still contain asbestos insulation to protect the inner machinery from heat.
- Wall paint/ceilings: Asbestos was prevalent in wall paints up until the 1990s, as well as spray-on paints, which were commonly used for ceiling tiles. Asbestos could also be found in decorative wall coatings such as Artex and in the form of Asbestos Insulating Boards.
- Flooring: Loose fill asbestos was used to insulate domestic premises and can be found in between cavity walls, under floorboards and in loft spaces. Carpet underlay can also occasionally contain asbestos, which includes vinyl floor tiling and glue.
- Old fuse boxes/cisterns/panels: Flash guards in fuse boxes can contain asbestos, old fire blankets can also be made out of asbestos textiles. Composites can be found in toilet cisterns and bath panels.
- Garden sheds and garages: Asbestos roof panels and roof tiles were all the craze back in the day.
Asbestos could also be located in gas and sewage pipes, in air conditioning and ventilation systems, as well as stoves and fireplaces. It could appear in textured coatings for walls, ceilings, around pipework, and cement sheeting or corrugated roofing.
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is a naturally formed mineral, which is packaged in six different types: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.
In older buildings, developed up to 1999, it manifests itself in many different forms; loose, lagging, spray, insulation boards, textiles and composites, textured coatings, cement products, felt and so on, appearing in various spots all over the property.
For your own safety, and the health and wellbeing of those around you, it is strongly-advised that you seek professional advice and guidance should you suspect the presence of asbestos in any form.
While it’s not illegal to sell a property with asbestos, it is absolutely necessary to disclose its presence if you’re made aware of it. The Property Misdescriptions Act of 2013 states that it is an offence to withhold such information, and playing ignorant could compromise the transaction and result in prosecution.
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