Can You Sell a House with Asbestos?

Asbestos has already been blacklisted in several countries around the world for the dangerous health risks it poses. In Australia, there has been a complete ban on the usage of asbestos since the early 2000s.

But did you know that there are still quite a few homes and buildings that have asbestos?

Before we can talk about asbestos in homes and how it will affect the selling and buying of such properties, let’s have a quick look at asbestos and how it was a mainstay in the construction industry for decades.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material and isn’t man-made, much to many people’s surprise. Asbestos isn’t also one particular material, but rather an umbrella term that covers 6 fibrous minerals: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.

Why was asbestos used so frequently?

Asbestos was a widely used material for many years; in fact, its usage wasn’t limited to the building industry.

An estimated 3000+ products were made of asbestos or contain asbestos materials. In terms of building and construction products, the types of products being made included items like adhesives, textiles, flooring, cements, and insulation products. Asbestos was so common that it was also found in talcum powder and cigarette filters.

The reason for its widespread use is the fact that it DOES have its benefits: it’s fire resistant, can absorb soundwaves, is hardy and provides insulation. On top of this, asbestos is very cheap and naturally abundant.

Why was asbestos banned?

You’d think that after knowing how useful asbestos is, it would be a top-notch material used for practically anything.

And for a time, it WAS a commonly used material around the world. So common that it was discovered to be a handy material for other products too. Not everything is forever, and asbestos certainly saw its slow demise in the last couple of decades. Asbestos has been mined for thousands of years and its popularity during the 20th century made it available in most parts of the world.

The health risks it poses was already observed by the Romans (yes, THOSE Romans from centuries ago), calling it a “sickness in the lungs”. Yet despite this observation, people continued to mine and make use of asbestos. During the 1920s and 1930s, there were so many asbestos-related illnesses and eventual deaths, but this did not stop us from using asbestos.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that doctors and scientists started comprehensively observing, studying and testing asbestos and its effects on humans. The results were nothing short of astounding – asbestos causes numerous lung diseases, including cancer. It is also responsible for asbestosis, a disease that causes scarring in the lungs. Those who are diagnosed with asbestosis are expected to live for only 6 months to a year after diagnosis.

Asbestos in itself may sound like a miracle material and truly, it is. However, asbestos is made of fine, fibre-like material that is invisible to the naked eye. Inhaling this substance has been proven to be detrimental to one’s health, even deadly.

Asbestos has seen a near worldwide ban in the 1990s, with asbestos being banned in Australia around the turn of century. While studies have shown and proven that asbestos poses more risks than benefits, there are still a few countries in the world that use asbestos.

While asbestos has been banned in Australia for nearly three decades now, there are still some buildings and homes that contain asbestos. These are structures that were built before the ban was put in place.

Where can I find asbestos in my home?

Unsurprisingly, asbestos can be found in any part of your home if it was built before the 1990s. This may include your roof, flooring, guttering, panelling, ceiling tiles, pipe lagging, around boilers, soffits, around water tanks or pipes, and behind fireplaces.

Can I sell my home if it has asbestos?

To make sure if your house truly contains asbestos, don’t try looking for it yourself.

Asbestos isn’t deadly or doesn’t cause any harm when left alone and is in good condition. When it is “disturbed” or moved by unknowing individuals, asbestos can release tiny fibres that aren’t easily visible. You run the risk of inadvertently inhaling a dangerous material.

When it has been proven that your home contains asbestos, you might be wondering if it is even ok to sell your home at this point. Here are common questions from homeowners:

Am I doing something illegal if I sell my home?

Of course not, you are perfectly free to sell your home. However, you must disclose any flaws or issues the house may have, including the fact that it has asbestos. If you fail to let a potential buyer know of this, the sale can be forfeited or cancelled.

What if I didn’t know that the house contains asbestos and survey claims otherwise?

There are no laws stating that you MUST be aware of asbestos in your home, however, this unwelcome discovery could negatively affect the sale of your home. Your potential buyer might have to rethink and negotiate the price offered, since they’d have to pay extra to have the asbestos removed in the future. A worst case scenario would be that they back out from the sale.

To avoid something like this from happening, it is best to have your house surveyed first before you put it up for sale. This way you know exactly how much you want to sell it, you know the home’s true condition, and there won’t be any unsavoury surprises down the road!

Can asbestos stop a sale?

This is a bit complicated to answer as there are a number of factors that may affect the sale. For example, the condition of the asbestos and how willing the potential buyer is to spend on having it removed can be enough to make or break a sale.

Just remember that from a legal point of view, nothing is stopping you from selling. Not even asbestos.

How much does asbestos affect property prices?

It varies, but it can play a role in fluctuating prices. There are things such as how much is present in the home, where it is, and the condition of the asbestos.

Having it removed professionally can be costly if there is a lot of it and most homeowners adjust their prices so that the added cost of asbestos removal is factored in.

You might want to consider having the asbestos removed first before selling the property but then again this depends on several factors. For some homeowners, it seems that it is a wiser decision to have asbestos removed first before selling, rather than having to adjust their selling price.

Removal of asbestos might be an additional cost, but it could end up saving you time and money in the future if you are selling your home. You don’t have to worry about negotiating the house price and you can disclose the fact that you’ve already taken care of the issue.

As a buyer, shouldn’t I not buy a home with asbestos?

This is a question that, when it all boils down to it, is up to the buyer. There are many homes that still have asbestos to this day, and many are bought and sold on a regular basis. Do keep in mind that asbestos becomes hazardous when it is disturbed or disrupted so as long as the asbestos in the home is still intact and in good condition, there isn’t any real reason why you can’t go for that mid-century cottage you’ve been eyeing.

Thankfully there are reputable companies that can take out all the asbestos in your home. These are professionally trained individuals that are well-aware of the risks of handling asbestos. For peace of mind, try to set aside a budget for asbestos removal services when you do get to buy your dream home.

Do you need asbestos removed from your property?

If you have asbestos present in your home or you suspect that it could be present, it’s best to have a professional come and check it out. At Asbestos Australia, that’s something we can help you with.

We can inspect properties, including residential, commercial and industrial properties in Victoria, Melbourne, Sydney, New South Wales, Adelaide, and South Australia. And if asbestos is present, we can also remove it for you.

We’re a Licensed Class A & B Unrestricted asbestos removal team – this means that no matter the type of asbestos or the amount, we can remove it legally and safely.

Talk to one of our experienced team members today by calling us on 03 9704 2952.

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers

Tommy Clappers is the Owner and Founder of Asbestos Australia Removalist specialising as a Class A & B Licensed Company with highly trained ticketed staff with over 25+ years in the industry in Friable & Non-Friable Commercial, Industrial & Domestic. He's well-skilled in all types of Asbestos Removal and Hazardous Materials. He's an expert in Encapsulation, Soil Remediation and Industrial Cleaning. He prides himself on creating safer environments for his team and his client's safety and ensuring every removal is safe and clean. He currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Posted By: Tommy Clappers

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