Selling a house with asbestos.
Asbestos, widely regarded as a construction evil of the 20th century, was around far longer than most people realise. Asbestos, an excellent insulator, fire-resistant and conductor of electricity, Was used by both the Roman and Persian Empires,
Asbestos is a cost-effective material used to provide safe and relatively cheap insulation in buildings for several decades. When a link between asbestos and a degenerative respiratory condition was established, the substance became synonymous with ill health and life-threatening diseases.
Asbestos creates dust — both during the manufacturing process and when it’s disturbed. In this dust are tiny and very sharp shards. Then they get into the lungs and cut and scar tissue relatively easily. And when that happens, diseases such as tuberculosis and fibrosis become more likely.
Following hundreds of thousands of asbestos-related deaths worldwide, the substance was banned from construction during the 1970s and 1980s. But the sale of buildings containing asbestos remained legal. And to this day, you can still sell a house with asbestos. But whether you inherited the property or bought it several years ago, there are a few things you need to know.
Do I have to disclose the presence of asbestos when selling a house?
It would help if you informed potential house buyers that your property contains asbestos. Of course, you may not know that the substance is present. But even the most basic of surveys will detect it.
If your home was built before 1978, there’s an excellent chance that it contains asbestos. Any surveyor or mortgage provider knows this, and they will look for the material before a house sale goes through.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that failing to detect the presence of asbestos could result in criminal proceedings against the surveyor. So if there’s even the slightest possibility your home contains the material, expect surveyors to move heaven and earth to find it.
But a surveyor is only expected to detect asbestos by reasonable means. Asbestos used as insulation in a loft is easy to identify, for example. But authorities wouldn’t necessarily expect surveyors to find asbestos inside solid walls or in hidden areas.
Can I sell a house with asbestos?
Surveyors are rarely asbestos experts. They know what to look for, but they aren’t usually qualified to assess the risk and manage the removal process. So if asbestos is in your home, you’ll have to enlist the services of a competent professional.
One of the issues an asbestos expert will look for is the state of the asbestos. If it’s in a bad way, it poses a severe health risk. But if it’s intact, it won’t be regarded as a threat. Even if the asbestos is in good condition, you must still disclose its presence to anyone who wants to buy your home.
Sell the house fast or deal with the issue first?
The decision on whether to purchase a home with undamaged asbestos is entirely down to the buyer. If they want to proceed, that’s up to them — although they may expect a reduction in the sale price. If your home contains damaged asbestos, you’ll probably need to address the problem yourself. If you want to sell your house fast, however, you can. But you’ll be forced to accept a substantially reduced final sale price.
The removal of asbestos is a highly skilled and painstaking process. It requires special equipment, sophisticated precautionary measures and specialist knowledge. Expect to pay between £50 and £100 a square metre for the removal of the substance. Even in an average-sized home, the final bill could be well more than £2,000.