Asbestos Overview

Asbestos has been widely used in the building industry over the last 100 years and particularly in the last 50 years up until it was finally banned in the late 1990s. Many homes contain asbestos without the owners even being aware of its presence.


Most people know what an asbestos roof looks like but very few home owners realise that asbestos can also be found in quite a diverse range of relatively common building products. Some of these are as follows:

  • Asbestos roofing material.
  • Asbestos wall panels.
  • Asbestos ceiling panels.
  • Asbestos fire blankets.
  • Some acoustic ceiling tiles.
  • Some sound proofing wall panels.
  • Some soffit panels (located under the eaves).
  • Some felt roof lining materials.
  • Some insulation materials used to lag hot pipes and hot water cylinders.
  • Some insulation materials used in ceilings.
  • Some hessian covered cork notice boards.
  • Some vinyl floor tiles.
  • Some artex type wall and ceiling coverings.
  • Some bricks used in night storage heaters.
  • Some bricks and products used in fireplaces.

It is quite possible that you will have asbestos in your home but while you should be wary of this there might not be any great cause for alarm. Asbestos can cause lung cancer if inhaled as a fine dust and as such it should never be sawed, sanded, drilled, brushed or disturbed in any way whereby the production of dust might result. Provided asbestos is not disturbed, the likelihood of major problems developing are very much reduced.

Recent legislation (Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002) has meant that owners of commercial and communal premises must make up a plan to manage asbestos in their property. They must ensure that any asbestos present is not disturbed in a way that may result in a hazard to health.

It should be noted that at this point in time (2004) there is no UK legislation covering requirements for home owners to manage the asbestos in their homes. However, some industry sources believe that legislation to address this will eventually be introduced. In any event it would be prudent for any purchaser to consider the possible presence of asbestos before agreeing to buy a property

Asbestos Surveys

Owners or prospective purchasers of a property, may wish to have an Asbestos Survey carried out to see if there is asbestos that needs to be removed.

It should be noted that the removal of asbestos from a building is a very complex and costly process. It should only be carried out by a licensed contractor who will ensure that it is done safely and that the asbestos, once removed, is taken to a licensed disposal site where it will not be a danger to other people.