Buying a House with Asbestos? Know Your Risks First!

Asbestos in homes is a critical concern, especially in Melbourne, where many houses built before 1985 contain this hazardous material. Understanding how to recognize asbestos, the importance of professional inspection, and the necessary steps to take if you discover it in your home is crucial for ensuring your family’s and the environment’s safety.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of finding asbestos in Melbourne homes and provide valuable insights on how to handle asbestos safely and responsibly.

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Key Takeaways

  • Recognize potential asbestos in your Melbourne home and take steps to identify it.
  • Engage a professional inspector for the safe management and removal of asbestos materials.
  • Follow legal regulations, engage licensed professionals, and adhere to safety practices when disposing of asbestos waste.

Recognizing Asbestos in Your Melbourne Home

Asbestos, one of the naturally occurring silicate minerals, was widely used in Australian homes built before 1985 due to its fireproof, waterproof, and superior insulating properties. However, when asbestos-containing materials are damaged, disturbed, or in disrepair, they can release airborne asbestos fibres, leading to serious health risks. Hence, homeowners must be adept at detecting asbestos in their homes and familiarizing themselves with its common hiding spots.

Asbestos can be found in diverse parts of a home, including:

  • External cladding
  • Wall linings
  • Eaves
  • Roofs
  • Fences

Therefore, it is crucial to stay alert during home renovations or demolitions. Before you start any work on your property, assume that asbestos is present and take the necessary precautions to identify and manage it accordingly.

Visual Indicators of Asbestos

While it is sometimes possible to visually identify asbestos, determining if a material contains asbestos simply by visual inspection is not always feasible. Asbestos insulation, for example, is generally greyish-brown or silver-gold in colour and can release asbestos dust into the air when disturbed. Asbestos plaster, on the other hand, can have a “popcorn” texture or be a lumpy white/grey concrete-like substance when sprayed onto surfaces and may contain up to 5% chrysotile asbestos.

The most reliable method for identifying asbestos in an old house, especially during home renovations, is to send samples to a lab for testing. This ensures accurate identification and helps you take the necessary precautions to protect your family and the environment from potential asbestos exposure.

Common Locations for Asbestos in Homes

In addition to external cladding, wall linings, eaves, roofs, and fences, asbestos fibres can commonly be found in:

  • Roofing and gutters
  • Gables
  • Downpipes
  • Walls and ceilings
  • Vinyl, carpet, and tile underlay
  • Lining behind wall tiles
  • Fibro sheeting in walls and ceilings
  • Water drainage and flue pipes
  • Roofing shingles
  • Various building materials, such as paint, insulation, and floor tiles

Loose-fill asbestos was also commonly used as insulation in the walls and roofs of homes in the 1960s and 1970s.

Knowing these common locations in domestic premises enables homeowners to act appropriately and prevent asbestos exposure, a precursor to asbestos-related diseases. When planning any renovation or demolition work, it’s imperative to be conscious of these areas and engage a professional asbestos inspector to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

The Importance of Professional Asbestos Inspection

Professional asbestos inspection is vital for several reasons:

  • Asbestos inspectors possess the technical knowledge and expertise, safety and health competence, attention to detail, and analytical skills necessary to identify and evaluate the presence of asbestos in your home.
  • They have access to proper equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), sampling equipment, microscopes, air monitoring equipment, and moisture meters.
  • They adhere to legal mandates and regulations regarding asbestos inspection and removal.

Hiring a professional asbestos inspector ensures that your home is thoroughly inspected and any asbestos-containing materials are properly identified and handled.

By conducting a comprehensive inspection, professional asbestos inspectors can ensure adherence to the requirements outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017. This entails keeping an asbestos register onsite and following the proper protocols for removing and disposing of asbestos materials. Abiding by these regulations guarantees the safety of workers and the public when interacting with asbestos.

Expertise and Equipment

Expert inspectors are instrumental in accurately identifying and assessing asbestos-containing materials in your home. They have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to handle asbestos safely. The specific requirements may differ, yet typically, they have a minimum of two years of experience in asbestos removal work and have completed the appropriate level of training for the work being supervised.

In addition to their expertise, inspectors utilize a range of equipment, such as:

  • air purifying respirators
  • high-pressure water sprayers
  • compressed air sprayers
  • brooms and small brushes
  • various power tools

This equipment, coupled with their knowledge and experience, ensures that asbestos materials are thoroughly assessed and managed to minimize the risk of exposure.

Legal Requirements and Compliance

Asbestos inspectors are pivotal in ensuring adherence to work health and safety laws and maintaining proper documentation. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures and regulations clearly outline the legal requirements for asbestos inspection in Melbourne. It is essential to adhere to these laws and regulations to fulfil your legal obligations regarding asbestos management and removal.

Some documentation necessary for asbestos inspection in Melbourne may include an asbestos register, a management plan, and an asbestos clearance certificate. By engaging a professional asbestos inspector, you can ensure that all legal requirements and compliance measures are met, protecting the health and safety of everyone involved.

Steps to Take if You Discover Asbestos in Your Home

If you stumble upon asbestos in your home, you must handle it as if it contains asbestos until proven otherwise. Refrain from touching or disturbing the material and contact a licensed asbestos removalist for proper removal. The obligations of a homeowner after identifying asbestos include:

  • Promptly taking action to guarantee safety
  • Contacting a certified asbestos removal specialist
  • Adhering to guidelines for handling and removal
  • Informing contractors
  • Maintaining records

Adopting these measures safeguards your family and the environment while reducing the risk of asbestos exposure. It is crucial to be proactive in managing the presence of asbestos in your home and seek professional help when necessary.

Don’t Disturb the Material

Disturbing asbestos can release hazardous fibres, increasing the potential for health risks. When asbestos materials are damaged, disturbed, or removed improperly, they can release microscopic airborne asbestos fibres, which can be inhaled. These asbestos fibres can remain suspended in the air and pose serious health risks to those exposed.

To reduce the risk of asbestos exposure, one must avoid disturbing materials containing asbestos. Instead, contact a licensed asbestos removalist who can safely handle removing asbestos and dispose of the asbestos-containing materials, ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Contact a Licensed Asbestos Removalist

Engaging a licensed asbestos removalist becomes indispensable when discovering asbestos in your Melbourne home. Licensed removalists possess the requisite training and expertise to handle and remove asbestos safely. They adhere to rigorous guidelines and regulations established by authorities such as WorkSafe to guarantee the suitable containment and disposal of asbestos, reducing the risk of exposure and contamination.

When selecting a licensed asbestos removalist, check their license and certification credentials. Engaging a licensed professional ensures that the asbestos removal process is conducted safely and effectively, protecting your family and the environment.

Informing Tenants and Neighbors

Keeping tenants and neighbours in the loop about the presence of asbestos in your home is critical to avert accidental exposure and foster awareness. By sharing information on the asbestos removal process, including the timeline and any safety measures implemented, you can help keep those around you safe and informed.

When informing tenants and neighbours about asbestos removal, it is important to provide the following information:

  • The presence of asbestos
  • Health risks associated with exposure
  • Safety precautions that will be taken during the removal process
  • The work schedule and how it may impact daily activities
  • Contact information for addressing concerns or questions

Communication is key in ensuring the safety of everyone in the vicinity of the asbestos removal process.

Asbestos-Related Health Risks and Prevention

Exposure to asbestos can lead to grave health hazards like mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Australia has been reported to have the second-highest rate of mesothelioma deaths globally, making prevention crucial. Preventative measures to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure include:

  • wearing appropriate protective clothing and respirators when working with asbestos
  • having a professional inspect your home for asbestos
  • avoiding disturbing asbestos-containing materials

Comprehending the potential health risks linked with asbestos exposure and adopting preventative measures can shield you, your family, and the environment from the perils of asbestos.

Diseases Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can lead to various diseases, such as:

  • Asbestosis a chronic condition characterized by scarring and inflammation in the lungs
  • Mesothelioma a rare and serious disease that affects the lining of the cavities, such as the chest and abdomen
  • Lung cancer

These diseases can have severe health implications and can be life-threatening.

Understanding these diseases and their symptoms is key to taking suitable precautions and seeking medical help when necessary. Early detection and treatment can improve outcomes for those affected by asbestos-related diseases.

Preventative Measures

Preventative measures to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure include conducting regular home inspections, maintaining proper maintenance practices, and following safe removal procedures. It is recommended that a house in Melbourne be inspected for asbestos at least once every five years.

During maintenance and removal, homeowners can reduce the risk of asbestos exposure by following safety measures such as wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, dampening the area before work, and disposing of asbestos waste appropriately. By implementing these measures, you can minimize the risk of asbestos exposure and protect your family’s health.

Choosing a Reliable Asbestos Removalist in Melbourne

asbestos removal workers on site removing asbestos materials.

Choosing a trustworthy asbestos removalist in Melbourne is vital to safely and correctly handling asbestos materials in your home. To choose a reliable removalist, check their licensing, certification, experience, and reputation. A dependable asbestos removalist should possess at least two years of experience in asbestos removal work and have completed the appropriate level of training for the work being supervised.

Opting for a reliable asbestos removalist guarantees the safe and compliant eradication of asbestos-containing materials from your home, shielding your family and the environment from potential asbestos exposure.

Licensing and Certification

Before hiring an asbestos removalist, ensure they are licensed and certified to handle asbestos removal. In Melbourne, asbestos removalists must apply for a license through the application process on the WorkSafe website and submit proof of experience and copies of training certificates in asbestos removal.

To verify the license and certification credentials of an asbestos removalist in Melbourne, visit the Victorian Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency website or the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority for information on licensed asbestos removalists and safe asbestos removal practices. This will help you ensure the removalist you choose is qualified and authorized to handle asbestos removal in your home.

Experience and Reputation

When choosing an asbestos removalist, look for a company with the following qualities:

  • A strong reputation
  • Experience in handling asbestos-related projects
  • Listed as a licensed asbestos removalist in your area
  • Accreditations and certifications
  • Positive reviews and testimonials from previous clients
  • A proven track record

Considering these factors will help you find a reliable and trustworthy asbestos removalist.

By selecting a reputable and experienced asbestos removalist, you can ensure the safe and proper removal of asbestos from your home, minimizing the risk of exposure and potential health risks.

Asbestos Disposal and Regulations

Correct asbestos disposal and adherence to regulations play a vital role in safeguarding public health and the environment. The legal requirements for asbestos disposal in Melbourne are strictly enforced, and asbestos waste can only be disposed of at facilities licensed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Disposing of asbestos waste in regular waste bins or landfill sites is prohibited, and a licensed asbestos removalist must be hired for larger projects. By following proper asbestos disposal regulations, you can minimize the risk of asbestos exposure and protect the health and safety of your family and the environment.

Legal Requirements for Asbestos Disposal

Legal requirements for asbestos disposal depend on the location, so staying informed about local regulations is important. In Melbourne, asbestos waste must be disposed of at facilities licensed by the EPA, and disposing of asbestos waste in regular waste bins or landfill sites is prohibited.

Homeowners are responsible for asbestos disposal in Melbourne, and hiring professionals who are licensed and experienced in asbestos removal is recommended to ensure safe and proper disposal. By adhering to these legal requirements, you can help protect public health and the environment from the dangers of asbestos.

Safe Disposal Practices

Safe disposal practices for asbestos involve:

  • Using approved facilities
  • Adhering to proper containment and transportation procedures
  • Utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Dampening the asbestos material
  • Securing the work area
  • Correctly discarding asbestos waste

When transporting asbestos for disposal, follow these guidelines:

  • Contain the asbestos waste in a polythene-lined drum or bin
  • Securely fix the drum or bin lid
  • Keep the material wet until it is packaged
  • Contact your local council to be aware of their requirements and to locate the nearest lawful waste disposal facility.

By following these safe disposal practices, you can minimize the risk of asbestos exposure and protect your family’s health.

The Risks and Ideas To Buy A Home With Asbestos In It

Normally, you won’t be able to make out if any house contains asbestos or not by just looking at it unless you’ve got extensive experience in the building industry or occupational hygiene services.

The best way to find if it is present in your home is to conduct an asbestos inspection on your property.

An asbestos inspection doesn’t just let you know about the presence of asbestos in your property but also gives you an idea of whether it is friable asbestos or non-friable asbestos. And accordingly, you should weigh your decision to buy this property or not.

Our advice is as follows:

Buy only if the property is free of asbestos completely

If you love the place and want to own it by all means, then you have to ensure the removal of every trace of asbestos from it. And this task isn’t possible if you try to do it yourself or get it done through an amateur. You must hire an experienced and licensed company offering asbestos removal in Australia.

This is because there are safety concerns and government rules and regulations in place.

If you’re found to be removing asbestos without a licence, you can end up having to pay a hefty fine. In Melbourne and Victoria, here at Asbestos Australia, we remove asbestos completely from the property and won’t leave a single component of this material behind.

Our trained professionals know everything about dealing with it safely and even disposing of it without any issues. We also remove asbestos from both residential homes and commercial properties.

After thoroughly removing this material from your property, you can sign the contract and pay for the house without any worries.

Talk with the current owner about the expenses.

Since you are weighing your possibilities of buying this house, ask if the current owner is ready to pay for removing this material.

If she/he agrees to pay for this step, you can again buy this place.

Ensure that you have the certificate of removal from a licensed company.

Skip the offer if the expense and risks are way too much

Investing in a house with asbestos in more than just a few areas is not a good idea. You may have to opt for an entire property reconstruction to eliminate so much asbestos.

And if the owner does not agree to pay for the expenses, you will incur a huge loss. This is not a wise thing to do! Now, when it comes to answering the question of whether you should buy a house with asbestos, for us, it depends on a few things: will the current owner get rid of the asbestos before purchase? Can you negotiate a new buying price to compensate for the asbestos removal? Is the asbestos or asbestos-containing materials limited to only a small area? If the answer is yes to these questions, then your risk is significantly reduced.

But ultimately, you have to make the final right call for your situation – your wise decision now impacts your health and happiness later.


In conclusion, understanding how to recognize asbestos, the importance of professional inspection, and the necessary steps to take if you discover it in your home is crucial for ensuring your family’s and the environment’s safety. By following the guidelines and recommendations outlined in this blog post, you can protect your loved ones from the potential dangers of asbestos exposure and take appropriate action to manage and remove asbestos-containing materials from your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Was asbestos used in Victorian houses?

Asbestos was commonly used in Victorian houses as a popular building material. It could be found in many places, such as dormer window attic conversions, extensions, bathrooms, laundries, kitchens, underflooring, roofing and electrical power boxes.

What do asbestos ceiling tiles look like?

Asbestos ceiling tiles are usually light-coloured, slightly textured and powdery white, with small dotted indentations. There is no health risk if they remain intact, but deterioration can be dangerous.

How can I visually identify asbestos in my home?

Visually identifying asbestos is not always possible; the most reliable identification method is sending samples to a lab for testing.

What are the common locations for asbestos in homes?

Asbestos can be commonly found in external cladding, wall linings, roofs, fences, roofing and gutters, walls and ceilings, vinyl, carpet, tile underlay, lining behind wall tiles, fibro sheeting, water drainage and flue pipes, roofing shingles, various building materials such as paint, insulation, and floor tiles.

What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure can cause life-threatening illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

How to find asbestos in Melbourne homes?

To find asbestos in Melbourne homes, you should look for potential asbestos-containing materials in common locations like external cladding, wall linings, roofs, fences, and various building materials. If you suspect the presence of asbestos, do not disturb the material. Instead, engage an asbestos professional in Melbourne to inspect and confirm its presence thoroughly. The most reliable method of identifying asbestos is to send samples to a lab for testing.

Is it okay to sell a property that has asbestos?

Yes, it’s perfectly fine and legal to do so. Make sure to disclose to potential buyers that the house contains asbestos (if you are aware of it) as a law requires home sellers to share such information: The Property Misdescriptions Act of 2013. Failure to disclose could result in prosecution and the validity of the sale. 

What if I didn’t know that the property contained asbestos before the sale and it was discovered afterwards?

For such an instance, you won’t be reprimanded for having any knowledge of the presence of asbestos in the property. 

However, this can negatively affect the sale when the buyer’s surveyor discovers asbestos in the home. It is best to survey your property before putting it up for sale by hiring a professional surveyor. 

Can the presence of asbestos put a stop to a sale? 

There is a possibility that, yes, it may not push through due to factors such as the buyer’s preferences.

They may want to buy your home, but because of the asbestos and the extra services it will entail to remove it, they might decide to forego the sale altogether. 

Can asbestos affect my asking price for a property? 

It depends on how much your home contains asbestos, its condition, and how much it will cost for the new owner to have it safely removed by professionals. 

Asbestos removal services come with a cost, as removing the asbestos is a major health risk and requires significant experience to do so properly. However, this cost is far outweighed by the guaranteed safety of your home and its occupants.

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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