Author Topic: Asbestos  (Read 2384 times)

alsoknownasDean

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Asbestos
« on: September 18, 2016, 12:27:33 AM »
I'm looking at buying a place around the middle of next year.

Given the realities of the housing market here, a lot of the areas that I'm looking in are mostly full of housing stock built between WW2 and the 1980s. Given the age of the places, it's pretty much inevitable that they'll contain asbestos, as it was heavily used in Australia at the time.

Should I be overly concerned about this? Would it be worth looking into getting the asbestos removed (especially if I want to upgrade insulation anyway)? Should I skip those areas altogether and look at buying only newer places (which may require I live further out still, in areas less conducive to walking/biking/public transport)?

former player

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2016, 02:49:11 AM »
I recently bought a house that turned out to have asbestos, some of it in the sheets covering a workshop that I knew about in advance, some of it in boarding under two windows that I didn't.  It turned out not to be too expensive to have local professionals deal with it.  If there are a lot of houses in your area with asbestos, there will also be specialist firms able to deal with asbestos.  They should have no problem giving you a general estimate, or even coming out to inspect a house you are thinking of buying and giving you an estimate of the cost of dealing with it.

The advice I was given was: if it's in situe and covered over and you are not interfering with it, it can safely be left.  If it's not covered over, it can safely be covered over and left.  Otherwise, have it removed.  The problems come when interfering with it: drilling holes, exposed dust, crumbling edges, and so on.  I could have had the boarding in my house covered over, but it wasn't expensive to remove and as I'm renting it out and so had less control over it's future condition, I had it taken out.

I was also told that it is possible to remove asbestos oneself: damp it down to minimise dust, wear a good facemask, double wrap it and dispose of it to a proper waste disposal centre that accepts asbestos.  I didn't do this because I could afford the reasonable cost of professionals and didn't think the risk was worth it to me.

The roofer told me that no roofer ever has had asbestosis: he thought that the combination of being outside in the open air and being above the asbestos rather than below it and having the dust coming down made the difference, but that is of course only anecdotal.


kiwias

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2016, 02:54:26 AM »
Just like here in NZ - anything built between the 40's and the 80's usually has asbestos in it.

The messy situation here is that the government says that non-fibrous asbestos (eg eternite eaves or fibrolite cladding) is safe provided that you do not drill/sand/cut or otherwise disturb it, but it seems that ALL of the insurance companies have a blanket asbestos exclusion in their home insurance policies...

Asbestos insulation batts in the ceiling cavity (did they used to do that? I've never heard of that here in NZ) would be fibrous asbestos and super hazardous!


On the subject of covering over asbestos rather than removing it (re: former player's comment), that is what they were doing after the earthquake in some houses in Christchuch with damaged ceilings with textured asbestos coatings - constructing a new ceiling just below the damaged ceiling. The problem with this is that say 20 years down the line when the house has changed hands a few times, the new owners will have no idea that there is asbestos concealed in the ceiling, and some poor SOB will put a drill or wall board saw through it so that they can install a new light, ceiling fan or air conditioning vent etc...

Fresh Bread

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2016, 04:37:39 AM »

Asbestos insulation batts in the ceiling cavity (did they used to do that? I've never heard of that here in NZ) would be fibrous asbestos and super hazardous!


I am on a waiting list for a free inspection for Mr Fluffy insulation. It was a firm/ type of insulation used in certain suburbs in Sydney and Canberra but I haven't heard if this is a thing in Melbourne where the OP is. Anyway if it is found under this inspection program, in brief the gov will demolish the house and pay us out.

Agree with FP - it pops up a lot but if you don't disturb it there's no need to worry. You just need to know where it is so you don't!

Anatidae V

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2016, 05:16:07 AM »
I asked this question a while ago. I'm still concerned because I just don't want to deal with it, but the other responses may help you.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/real-estate-and-landlording/asbestos-in-housing/msg842740/#msg842740

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2016, 05:20:40 AM »
I am on a waiting list for a free inspection for Mr Fluffy insulation. It was a firm/ type of insulation used in certain suburbs in Sydney and Canberra but I haven't heard if this is a thing in Melbourne where the OP is.

Yeah I don't think so. I thought it was only Canberra that was affected by Mr Fluffy.

On the subject of covering over asbestos rather than removing it (re: former player's comment), that is what they were doing after the earthquake in some houses in Christchuch with damaged ceilings with textured asbestos coatings - constructing a new ceiling just below the damaged ceiling. The problem with this is that say 20 years down the line when the house has changed hands a few times, the new owners will have no idea that there is asbestos concealed in the ceiling, and some poor SOB will put a drill or wall board saw through it so that they can install a new light, ceiling fan or air conditioning vent etc...

Can I just say how surprised I am that that's even allowed in Christchurch. I would have expected it to be mandatory for all of the asbestos to be removed, after the 2011 quakes.

Yeah I've heard that it's not too bad when left in place, although one plan of mine for anything I do end up buying would be to do a few energy efficiency modifications (including upgrading insulation). The presence of asbestos may or may not be an issue there.

I asked this question a while ago. I'm still concerned because I just don't want to deal with it, but the other responses may help you.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/real-estate-and-landlording/asbestos-in-housing/msg842740/#msg842740

Thanks for the link :)
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 05:26:50 AM by alsoknownasDean »

kiwias

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2016, 07:08:53 AM »
Can I just say how surprised I am that that's even allowed in Christchurch. I would have expected it to be mandatory for all of the asbestos to be removed, after the 2011 quakes.

It's because the gov and the insurers have gone for the cheap and nasty patch up job - cheaper to use the new ceiling to "encapsulate" the damaged asbestos ceiling than it is to get asbestos removalists to safely remove the old ceiling first. Of course you are taking what was an easily recognised hazard out in the open and turning it into a hidden "land mine" waiting to bite someone in the future...

Something that makes you think is that, over a number of years (started before the 2011 earthquake), the gov has been removing ALL asbestos from school buildings, no ifs, not butts, if it is asbestos, it is removed.


Anyway if it is found under this inspection program, in brief the gov will demolish the house and pay us out.

Re: Mr Fluffy, consider yourself lucky - here the gov't would probably condemn your house and say "sorry mate, your problem".

deborah

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 02:05:09 AM »
The government spent many years saying "it's not a problem" (there's a Mr Fluffy house at the bottom of our street), but they finally relented and bought out all the Canberra houses a couple of years ago, and the government is gradually demolishing them.

The houses were originally "cleaned" a number of years ago (I think they thought they took all the asbestos out of the ceilings), but the first couple that were demolished showed how invasive the loose fill was - it had penetrated just about everywhere even though the ceiling was clean. When the government took over the buildings, all the soft furnishings had to be left (sofas...).

I recently bought a house that turned out to have asbestos, some of it in the sheets covering a workshop that I knew about in advance, some of it in boarding under two windows that I didn't.  It turned out not to be too expensive to have local professionals deal with it.  If there are a lot of houses in your area with asbestos, there will also be specialist firms able to deal with asbestos.  They should have no problem giving you a general estimate, or even coming out to inspect a house you are thinking of buying and giving you an estimate of the cost of dealing with it.

The advice I was given was: if it's in situe and covered over and you are not interfering with it, it can safely be left.  If it's not covered over, it can safely be covered over and left.  Otherwise, have it removed.  The problems come when interfering with it: drilling holes, exposed dust, crumbling edges, and so on.  I could have had the boarding in my house covered over, but it wasn't expensive to remove and as I'm renting it out and so had less control over it's future condition, I had it taken out.

I was also told that it is possible to remove asbestos oneself: damp it down to minimise dust, wear a good facemask, double wrap it and dispose of it to a proper waste disposal centre that accepts asbestos.  I didn't do this because I could afford the reasonable cost of professionals and didn't think the risk was worth it to me.

The roofer told me that no roofer ever has had asbestosis: he thought that the combination of being outside in the open air and being above the asbestos rather than below it and having the dust coming down made the difference, but that is of course only anecdotal.


There are a number of cases where kids playing outside in towns where asbestos was mined got asbestosis. Of course, there are problems about just who is going to pay, since the children didn't work in the mines. And the whole Hardy saga didn't really even provide for the workers.

The advice sounds just like what I've seen, but here, any tradie must wear appropriate gear - and I'm pretty sure you can't DYI, so I think the rules vary from state to state. I certainly wouldn't touch it.

Anatidae V

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 02:14:09 AM »
For interest, "appropriate gear" at my work for asbestos removal is a full plastic suit, booties, a P3 mask (i think that's what it's called, highest rated, covers everything and goggles as well I think), gloves. Everything is constantly wetted down, there's a specific procedure for getting dressed and undressed. The asbestos is double-bagged. That is for proper removal - we tend to do open areas rather than inside buildings. I have never had to do it and never intend to, but it's an intense setup.

Utilities are starting to find it in places they swore it was normal concrete and no asbestos was mixed in, or there's a random piece tucked in a corner that was never recorded.

Primm

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 02:51:34 AM »
You can DIY in Queensland if it's under 10 square metres, or more if it's your own house and you get a certificate (for about $300). You still need to follow all the regulations around proper removal, protective gear, notifying neighbours, proper disposal etc.

Other states don't let you though from what I've heard.

deborah

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 03:38:01 AM »
The first time I went skiing, someone wore an asbestos suit, which got torn in a few places, and there were small bits of the grey stuff going all over the place. No-one even thought about the kinds of problems then.

With the Mr Fluffy removals on everyone's minds, there have been pictures in the news of people in their kit.

Astatine

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Re: Asbestos
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 03:40:27 AM »
You might find these websites useful:

http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/
https://www.asbestossafety.gov.au/asbestos-information

I haven't read either of them, but they were the sorts of websites I read before I bought my place 6 years ago.

Where I live, it's very common to have asbestos cement (or whatever it's called) used as the eaves and wet areas (bathroom, kitchen, laundry). Generally it's considered to be ok if it's in good condition and you don't disturb it by drilling it. Removal of asbestos sheeting where I live isn't too expensive. Maybe $2k or so to remove sheeting from a bathroom but I don't know if that's the same all over Australia.

I've had asbestos sheeting removed from my eaves when I had all the eaves, fascias and guttering replaced a few years ago. I would have been happy to have left it but the wooden fascias were rotting and it was starting to fall down (I had one piece held in place by gaffer tape for a while). So it was easiest to remove and replace the whole lot. The builder I hired to do the work subcontracted with a licensed asbestos removalist and after it was all done, I got a certificate from them saying it had been removed and disposed of in accordance with whatever the local requirements are.

I almost definitely also have asbestos sheeting in the laundry, kitchen and bathroom. I'm just leaving it there as it's in good condition. The bathroom is starting to deteriorate though so next year sometime we'll probably pay a builder to gut it and rebuild it, and pay for asbestos removal. A while ago I wanted to get a fan and heater installed in the bathroom ceiling but I asked several electricians and none of them would consider doing it when I said it was quite probably asbestos sheeting*.

*Don't know for sure it is, but my next door neighbour's property (built at the same time by the same builder) has tested positive for asbestos sheeting, so I'm just assuming it is. Have also had a few builders/tradies informally confirm my suspicions (as in, they couldn't say for sure without testing but they all reckon it looks like asbestos sheeting and sounds like it if you tap on it with your knuckle).
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 03:45:26 AM by Astatine »