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The process of buying a home comes with a laundry list of tasks and investigations, each vital to ensuring that your prospective property is not only financially secure but also safe for occupation. One of the lesser-known yet critical elements to consider is the practice of asbestos survey.

Understanding the Problem

Despite widespread recognition of its dangers, asbestos remains present in many homes across the globe. It was once a staple of construction materials due to its heat resistance and durability. However, we now know all too well about the health hazards that it presents. When disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne and inhaled, leading to severe health issues, including various forms of cancer.

The Role of Asbestos Surveys

Before purchasing a home, it’s crucial to understand what an asbestos survey is and why it’s a mandatory step in the buying process. An asbestos survey is a detailed assessment of a property’s asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Professional surveyors evaluate the condition of ACMs, their locations within the property, and the risks they pose.

Homebuyers need to commission an asbestos survey not only for their personal safety but also for legal and financial reasons. In many countries, including the UK, it is a legal requirement to carry out an asbestos survey before undertaking any refurbishment or demolition, which includes property purchases.

Choosing the Right Type of Survey

There are two primary types of asbestos surveys identified under the regulation—Management surveys and Refurbishment/Demolition surveys:

  • Management surveys are used to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspected asbestos-containing materials within a building.
  • Refurbishment/Demolition surveys are required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment, or demolition. They are used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned.

Homebuyers should ensure that they commission the correct survey. Failure to do so can result in expensive fines and delays to the property purchase.

The Survey Process

An approved surveyor will conduct a thorough visual inspection of the property. This inspection is the first line of defense in identifying potential ACMs. Any materials suspected of containing asbestos will then be sampled and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The surveyor will provide a detailed report of the location and condition of any ACMs, along with recommendations for their management or removal.

Why It Matters

The cost of an asbestos survey can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the property and the extent of the survey. However, this is a small price to pay when compared to the potential health and financial costs of dealing with asbestos-related issues in the future.


Homebuyers must understand their responsibility in dealing with asbestos when purchasing a property. Not only can an asbestos survey save lives, but it can also save you from legal and financial headaches down the line. When viewing your next potential home, make sure to inquire about the property’s asbestos history and get a professional survey to provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.