Do you need a refurbishment and demolition survey?

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There is a lot to consider when you're responsible for looking after a property, and one of the most important things is health and safety. You will be aware that you have a legal duty to follow asbestos rules and regulations, but if you're not familiar with them, it can feel like a daunting prospect. We are here to help -  in this blog, we will explain what a refurbishment and demolition survey is, and by the end of it you will have a clear idea of whether you need one for your next project.  

Identifying who is responsible  

It is a legal requirement to manage the risk of asbestos in non-domestic properties.

The person responsible for making sure this happens is known as the duty holder. This is either the owner of the premises or the organisation/person contractually responsible for maintenance and repair of the building.  

Non-domestic property refers to commercial, industrial, and public buildings, such as shops, factories, offices, schools, and so on. But it can also refer to the communal areas of residential properties, like the common areas in flats.

Unless you know there is no asbestos present, then you should assume that the building contains asbestos, and take all the necessary precautions.  

Knowing when you need a survey

If you are considering a major refurbishment or a demolition, you need to arrange for an inspection from a trained asbestos surveyor before you start work.

This is known as a refurbishment and demolition survey - sometimes referred to as a type three survey. The aim is to find, identify, and describe any asbestos in the building to protect the people who will be working on the premises, such as tradespeople.

When asbestos fibres are disturbed, they are released into the air and unknowingly breathed in by the people nearby. These fibres can cause fatal diseases, such as pleurisy, lung cancer, and mesothelioma - a tumour caused by breathing in asbestos.       

It's easy to imagine how fibres might be released when a building is demolished, but significant refurbishment in properties with asbestos can be just as dangerous.

Significant refurbishment refers to such things as: 

  • removing walls, doors, windows, etc.
  • loft conversion
  • installing new equipment
  • electrical re-wiring

If you are unsure whether your planned refurbishment counts as 'significant', call the experts. We specialise in asbestos surveys in Kent, London, and the South East, and we are happy to discuss your project and guide you through the process.    

The purpose of a demolition survey  

The duty holder not only has a legal obligation to conduct a survey, but they also have a responsibility towards the people using the property, and a moral duty to protect anyone working on the building, including all tradespeople and contractors.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), describes the survey as a way of ensuring:

1. that nobody will be hard harmed while working on the building

2. such work will be done by the right contractor, in the right way

 The survey reports on the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACM) in the property. It doesn't include information on the condition of any asbestos found because the purpose of the report is to identify it for removal before any work begins.

According to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, all asbestos must be removed before a refurbishment or demolition.   

What to expect during the survey

A refurbishment and demolition survey is more intrusive than any other type of asbestos survey. In order to locate and identify asbestos, the investigation has to be thorough.

You can expect the survey to cause some damage, as the surveyor may need to lift carpets and floor tiles, get behind facings, such as walls and ceilings, and even access voids like lift shafts. For this reason, there should be no one in the building when the survey takes place, and only when it is certified 'fit for reoccupation' can you return.  

This is different from an asbestos management survey, which takes place in occupied premises and assesses surface level asbestos only.

The responsibilities of homeowners

Private homeowners don't have a legal duty to check to see if asbestos is present before they start work refurbishing or demolishing a property. But, if it was built before 1999 and you have been told that your property contains asbestos or you suspect it has, then check with the experts before you go any further, for the safety of everyone.

Twenty tradespeople a week die of an asbestos-related disease, so it just isn't worth putting yourself or anybody else at unnecessary risk. Refurbishment and demolition surveys must be carried out by trained surveyors, like Asbestos Gone.

We are trained to undertake surveys and licensed to remove asbestos. Never attempt to remove asbestos yourself - leave it to the professionals.

Looking for more help

Breaches of UK asbestos regulations are regularly featured in the media. Duty holders of non-domestic buildings - large and small - have a legal responsibility to protect the people who work in and use these buildings. But more than that, duty holders and homeowners have a moral obligation to safeguard the lives of tradespeople and contractors involved in any refurbishment or demolition work at the property. 

Remember - always assume that the building contains asbestos unless you know it does not.

If you are a duty holder or homeowner and you are in any doubt about whether you need a refurbishment and demolition survey, contact the experts for advice. We have over ten years’ of experience handling asbestos surveys in Kent, London, and the South East. Our telephone lines are open 24 hours a day, for round-the-clock peace of mind. Contact us today for help and guidance on asbestos management.