Do I need a refurbishment and demolition survey?

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Demolition work is fraught with danger from falling debris to excessive noise and exposure to harmful materials, like silica dust and asbestos. However, it is possible to mitigate these risks by identifying potential hazards before the work begins. In this blog we look at the refurbishment and demolition survey, which is designed to check for asbestos before a planned demolition.

What is a refurbishment and demolition survey?

A refurbishment and demolition survey is a type of asbestos survey that aims to locate and identify the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) before a building is demolished.

It's also used to check for asbestos before any major refurbishment work, but in this blog, we're largely concerned with the demolition side of things.

The Health and Safety Executive state that the survey is designed to ensure that:

  1. nobody is harmed during the demolition
  2. the right people are carrying out the work safely

Asbestos poses a significant threat when it is disturbed, because it breaks up into smaller pieces that can be inhaled. This can cause life-threatening illnesses that affect the lungs such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The purpose of the survey (sometimes known as R & D) is to identify asbestos before the work begins so the right measures can be put in place to protect everyone involved. For that reason, this is a much more intrusive inspection than an asbestos management survey.

What are the different types of asbestos survey?

The refurbishment and demolition survey shouldn't be confused with an asbestos management survey – though similar in purpose, they are different in practice.

  1. Asbestos management survey

This type of survey is required for commercial buildings in the UK at risk of containing asbestos (usually because they were built before it was banned in 1999). Its aim is to produce a register that shows the location of asbestos and its condition. This forms part of the duty holder's plan to manage and control the risk of asbestos over time.

The duty holder is the building owner or the person responsible for looking after it.

  1. Refurbishment and demolition survey

This survey is designed specifically to find any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) before any major refurbishment or demolition work begins on a property. Unlike a management survey, it doesn't report on the condition of the asbestos. Its aim is to locate and identify ALL materials in the building or within a particular area.

Both surveys may require samples to be taken, but only the refurbishment and demolition survey will involve destruction of the property to locate ACMs for testing.

What to expect from an asbestos demolition survey

Pre-demolition surveys go beyond the face of the building to look for asbestos in places that might be concealing this hazardous material. Besides the areas normally covered by a management survey, you can expect a demolition survey to include:

  • suspended ceilings
  • partition walls
  • cavity walls
  • apertures (doors, windows)
  • floors
  • ducts and lift shafts
  • roof voids
  • cladding

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you some idea of how far this survey goes.

Accessing hard-to-reach areas often involves some destruction of the property, and this has the potential to disturb any asbestos present. For that reason, the building must be vacated while the survey takes place until it is certified fit for reoccupation.

Asbestos cannot be confirmed by sight alone, so you can expect the surveyor to take away samples of material that will be tested independently by an accredited laboratory.

What's more, the survey will also test areas where the building plan shows there used to be asbestos present. If a significant amount of debris is still detected on fixtures left behind, then they may need to be removed before the demolition takes place.

What happens after the R & D survey?

After the survey has taken place there will be a short wait for the results of the tests to come back. If asbestos is confirmed, then the next step is to either remove it or to put the right precautions in place to protect everyone involved in the demolition.

It's not always possible to remove asbestos safely, and this is where you need the advice of a reliable team of industry experts who can guide you through the demolition process while ensuring the risk to people nearby is mitigated.

Remember that the aim of the refurbishment and demolition survey is to identify asbestos so that the subsequent work is carried out by the "right contractor, in the right way".

At Asbestos Gone, we have over ten years' experience in asbestos removal and surveys in the South-East of England, covering London, Kent, Essex and the surrounding areas. We also offer services in soft strip demolition, which we'll look at next.

What is soft strip demolition and do I need it?

Before a building can be demolished, the non-structural elements need to be removed from both the inside and outside – this is referred to as soft-strip demolition.

Our skilled operatives, at Asbestos Gone, are trained in the removal of asbestos-related fixtures and fittings, plus:

  • plant and air conditioning units
  • metal studding
  • internal and stud walls
  • ceiling (including dismantling)
  • other temporary structures

We are confident that you won't find a better, more competitively-priced service anywhere else.

Asbestos demolition surveys – the key takeaway

Organising a refurbishment and demolition survey should be one of the first things you do before you start work. This survey will identify all traces of asbestos in the building so the right precautions can be taken to protect everyone involved.

When it comes to asbestos, it's not worth taking any risks, which is why you should always follow the HSE's guidelines and use an experienced, trained surveyor.

With Asbestos Gone, you're in safe hands – we understand the demolition process from start to finish and our priority is to keep you safe. For further advice or to organise a refurbishment and demolition survey, contact our friendly team today by phone, email, or use the chat function on our website.