If your house was built or renovated before 1990, it is likely that it will contain some form of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
If you are unsure whether asbestos is present in your home, an asbestos survey is recommended to help you identify the following:
- if asbestos is present,
- the condition the asbestos is in, and
- how to manage the risk of the asbestos
To find a licensed asbestos assessor you can call or visit the website of the work health and safety regulator in your state or territory.
When should I get an asbestos survey?
Before starting any renovations, it is important to obtain an asbestos survey of your home to avoid disturbing any ACMs. The survey will help to identify asbestos that needs to be managed or removed.
Before buying property, you may want to obtain an asbestos survey to identify if asbestos is present. It may need to be removed or managed which could create extra costs for the buyer.
In some cases, it may be a government requirement to undertake a pre-renovation or pre-demolition survey. It is recommended that you check with the work health and safety regulator in your state or territory to find out what requirements apply.
Who can undertake an asbestos survey?
If you live in the ACT, all asbestos survey work must be carried out by a licensed asbestos assessor.
In all other states and territories, asbestos survey work must be carried out by a 'competent person'.
A competent person should be:
- trained and experienced in taking asbestos samples,
- knowledgeable and experienced in identifying asbestos,
- able to determine the risk and the action that should be taken, and
- familiar with building and construction methods to identify where asbestos is likely to be
Professionals who may meet this definition include:
- occupational hygienists who have experience with asbestos
- licensed asbestos assessors
- individuals who have undertaken a recognised training course in asbestos identification
Results of the asbestos survey
After completing the asbestos survey, you should receive a report that includes:
- details of the person/company conducting the survey
- the location of the asbestos
- a description of materials that contain/are suspected to contain asbestos (including photos)
- laboratory testing results (if a sample was taken)
- recommended action (management or removal plan)
Ensure you read the report and any recommendations that are made carefully. Any questions should be directed to the person that prepared the report.
A copy of the report should be provided to any tradesperson intending to carry out work on your home.
Managing asbestos in your home
The report might indicate asbestos is present in your home. However, if it also states that it is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed, the asbestos can be monitored over time.
If the asbestos is subject to minor damage or weathering, the report may advise you to get the asbestos repaired or sealed. This will help manage the risk until full removal is necessary.
In any case it is very important to conduct regular inspections to determine whether there have been any changes to the condition of the asbestos area.