How can asbestos affect property transactions?

September 23, 2020 5:54 pm

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Asbestos is now known to be dangerous. The presence of asbestos can affect both sales and purchases. Purchasers should ensure that they obtain a survey, particularly if their property was built prior to the outlawing of asbestos in 1999.

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What is asbestos and how was it used?

Asbestos covers several types of fibrous minerals. It was used because of its useful properties including fire resistance, insulation and sound proofing. It was cheap. In properties built before 1999 asbestos could be used almost anywhere, but most commonly it is found in roofs, as insulation in airing cupboards and around boilers, fireplaces, artex finishes and flooring.

Why is asbestos a problem?

Exposure to asbestos fibres causes serious diseases including cancer and mesothelioma, killing over 5,000 people a year in the UK. It is important to know if you have asbestos in your property so that you know how to manage it. In general terms, asbestos is only dangerous if it is damaged or disturbed which causes the fibres to be released. If the asbestos needs to be removed it will be a costly exercise.

How can a building survey help?

If you are purchasing a property then a building survey will alert you to the presence of asbestos amongst many other factors. Many people buying a property for the first time will ask what is a building survey? A RICS surveyor will check the property in numerous ways, including an overview as to the presence of asbestos. If asbestos is discovered you may wish to obtain a specialist asbestos survey, particularly if you are planning on doing works to the property which would involve damaging or removing it.

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How does the presence of asbestos impact property transactions?

So many homes in the UK contain asbestos that its presence does not mean that a home is unsaleable, or that you will need to pull out of the transaction if you are buying. It is important to know whether your property does have asbestos so that you can keep yourself and your family safe. Expert advice from a surveyor before you buy can help you avoid the potential pitfalls associated with asbestos.

If asbestos is found to be in a poor and dangerous state then it may be worth sellers having it safely removed by experts to ensure a transaction can go ahead.