Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance that was used widely in the building industry up until the late 1980s. If you’re considering buying an older property that was built before 1985, you should consider having an asbestos inspection carried out by a professional asbestos services company, such as Contrast Surveys.
But where would you expect to find asbestos in an older building? Here’s what to look out for when viewing potential properties to buy.
Loft or cavity wall insulation
Asbestos was commonly used for insulation. The loose-fill form of the material that was used is especially dangerous because the tiny fibres it contains can be easily disturbed by the slightest movement. If the fibres are inhaled, they become lodged in the lungs, causing serious breathing conditions, such as mesothelioma.
Asbestos was once used routinely as an ingredient in building cement to make it stronger. Asbestos cement looks exactly the same as ordinary, harmless cement, making it extremely difficult to spot by the untrained eye. Any form of renovation work that entails the removal of structures containing asbestos cement could release asbestos dust into the air where it could be inhaled by unsuspecting workers.
Asbestos was also used in the fabrication of insulation board that was often used for making ceiling tiles, because of its fireproofing properties. Although asbestos ceiling tiles were more commonly used in schools and commercial premises, you may still find them in workshops and outbuildings attached to domestic properties.
Asbestos was often included in very high concentrations in many spray-on insulation coatings that were used to coat walls and roofs.
Decorative wall and ceiling coatings
Asbestos was used widely in textured wall and ceiling coatings that were very popular in the 1970s and 1980s.
If you’re looking around an older property that has this kind of décor, be aware that you will need to have the textured wall and ceiling coverings removed, which could potentially be expensive when added to the cost of redecorating the house.
You should also bear in mind that previous occupants of the house may have wallpapered over the original wall coating, masking the potential danger lurking beneath.