The Hopps Partnership


Asbestos, an introduction

Asbestos was one of the most widely used materials in construction and was added to plastics, cement, decorative finishes, asphalt and insulation right up until the end of last century. Asbestos has excellent insulating properties, is fire proof and as such over 3000 product from 1940 onwards contained it. However, when inhaled, small particles of asbestos are very dangerous to health and as such, asbestos is now the single highest cause of work related deaths in the world and figures suggest that there are nearly 2000 related deaths a year.

Many construction materials contain asbestos that when intact are not a risk, however if the material is broken up or is loose then fibres can be breathed in. Therefore if you suspect that a material contains asbestos, you are best advised to leave the area alone and contact a specialist. the image at the head of this blog shows common areas in a house where asbestos could be located, the red numbers must not be removed by a regular builder, the amber may require specialist contractor.

Today, asbestos is governed by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 which places a duty on responsible persons such as those who own/maintain non-domestic property.

We will take a look at some of the materials that are still present in property that contain asbestos and what to do if you suspect its presence.

Materials that contain asbestos


Asbestos roofs:

Perhaps the most easily recognised form of asbestos, this was a commonly used external form of roofing and is generally hardwearing. However, over time this roof does degrade and can release fibres if broken up. A normal trained builder can remove this material as long as they undertake the work safely and a useful method statement for this work can be found here:

There are other roof coverings with asbestos such as asbestos felt which is very hard to distinguish from modern roofing felts and a useful guide can be found here:

Asbestos wall cladding:

Similar to asbestos roof covering, often with a profiled shape which must be dealt with in the same way as the above.

Pipe lagging:

Pipes in roofs and other voids were often insulated with a coating of asbestos. This is a very dangerous form if it has become friable (loose and dusty) and great care should be taken not to disturb these areas. This must not be removed by a regular builder, a specialist licenced contractor is required.


Asbestos insulation board:

This is a material that looks very much like plasterboard and can be seen in the below photo:

Asbestos loose fill insulation:

This is a material that looks very much like plasterboard and can be seen in the below photo:

Decorative coatings:

A common form of material containing asbestos is Artex, a branded product that created a textured finish, often on ceilings. This contains a small amount of asbestos and a regular trained builder can remove this, a useful guide can be found here:

There are many more forms of material that contain asbestos and a simple guide can be found here:

If you own a domestic property and are planning on undertaking refurbishment, it is recommended that you have a specialist asbestos survey undertaken. This will guide your builder on areas that require care in removal. If you own a non-domestic property such as an office, you will be required to undertake a survey and locate existing materials containing asbestos and keep a register and will have further duties in line with the regulations.

If in doubt, we can recommend companies that can undertake specialist asbestos surveys, feel free to give us a call.

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