When we think about people coming into contact with asbestos, we tend to think about people who worked with the substance many years ago – several decades in some cases.

However this doesn’t cover all the situations where people can come into contact with the substance. It still exists in older buildings up and down the country, both residential and commercial in nature. This means that if you suspect there may be asbestos present in your property, you will need to have an asbestos survey done to ensure you are aware of what is present and where it is.

Is it required by law to have a survey?

No, there is no law that says you must have a survey done if you are a homeowner. However, if you think your property might contain asbestos it would be prudent to go ahead and get one done.

If you own or occupy a property used for commercial reasons, you need to ascertain whether or not any asbestos is present. You also need to find out what condition it is in. A survey will provide the answers to these questions.

Who performs this survey?

Specialised surveyors handle these kinds of surveys. They will be trained and experienced in surveying a property to look for asbestos containing materials. These are also referred to as ACMs. This means the survey will cover materials that could reasonably be assumed to contain asbestos, as well as the actual substance itself in its many forms.

The survey covers three areas:

  • Finding these materials and identifying what they are, their location and quantity
  • Ascertaining how easy it is to get to, what condition it is in and whether any treatment is present on the surface of the material
  • Finding out the precise type of asbestos. This can be done via sampling or by sight and other clues, if the asbestos is not able to be sampled safely

What happens once the survey is complete?

A survey report will be produced by the surveyor. This will indicate everything found during the survey. It will also help you understand whether any further action needs to be taken.

Even if asbestos is present in your property, it may not be necessary or wise to get rid of it. A lot will depend on where it is and what condition it is in. For instance, asbestos that is in bad condition with loose fibres present and is located where people could access it or touch it would almost certainly be removed. However, if it is hard to get to and is in excellent condition, restricting access to that area and monitoring it for potential deterioration would probably be a better course of action.

No two properties are the same, and even if asbestos is present in yours it doesn’t mean you will have to have it taken out. However, by requesting an asbestos survey you will know exactly where you stand – and how safe you are.