The Cost of Removing Asbestos

All you need to know about the removal of asbestos including costs of materials, labour and time frames.

asbestos removal

What the job entails

Asbestos was used extensively during the early part of the 20th century as a construction material before the health risks were known. Today it is well understood that asbestos fibres can cause fatal respiratory diseases and lung cancer, but this was not confirmed until 1999 when asbestos was outlawed in the UK. So if your home was built between 1900 and 1999 it is possible that you have dangerous asbestos materials in your home. Typically asbestos was used in roofing, insulation, walls (in the cement), flooring and guttering. But as long as the asbestos is in good condition and not disturbed, it is not harmful, the danger lies when the material is broken down or disturbed and the fibres are released into the environment which can then get into the respiratory system.

There are a number of different types of asbestos which were used in construction. Amosite (brown asbestos) was used in buildings as thermal insulation, Chrysotile (white asbestos) is commonly used in buildings particularly in roofs (especially popular for garage roofs) and can be identified by the grey/white colouring and strong yet flexible structure.

Blue asbestos or Crocidolite is much rarer in the UK and is a material more often used in special high temperate applications. However, asbestos was often used in varying concentrations as part of other materials such as cement so it can be hard to identify without professional help and all types of asbestos are potentially lethal if you inhale the fibres! So, if your home was built before 2000 and you are concerned that there may be asbestos, you need to hire a professional asbestos surveyor to check your home - do not attempt to remove the asbestos yourself, not only is this incredibly dangerous, it is also against the law!

If a DIY asbestos removal is attempted harmful fibres will almost certainly be released into the air posing potentially lethal dangers to anyone in the vicinity. Only fully trained professionals with the right safety gear should be removing asbestos. The Control of Asbestos Regulations states you should only hire fully qualified tradesmen to BOHS P402 Standard that are HSE Licensed for removing asbestos and have a Hazardous Waste Carriers Licence for the transport of asbestos.

The cost to remove asbestos safely depends on a number of factors, with the amount of asbestos to be removed having the most impact on the price. The actual job will entail first of all having a professional surveyor to accurately assess the quantity and risks. This is mandatory and will typically cost around £200 for an extensive survey to provide detailed information.

The next stage of the job is to either encapsulate the existing asbestos by applying a protective adhesive to all asbestos material so that no harmful dust or fibres can be released into the atmosphere, or full asbestos removal which costs from £50 per square metre. Full asbestos removal is far more expensive than encapsulation, but it does completely remove the threat and can increase the value of your home. In reality, you will struggle to sell any home that has asbestos even if it has been encapsulated for safety, asbestos is not a popular feature with buyers!

Other factors that can affect asbestos removal costs include the location, the size of the project and the required remedial work (to replace the asbestos with a safer material). If areas are more difficult to access this will obviously increase labour costs, plus once the asbestos has been removed it may have left large areas that need replacing, finishing and decorating. Asbestos removal is a dangerous, time consuming job and not cheap, the removal of a typical asbestos garage alone can easily exceed £2000 - but the potential consequences of not removing asbestos are horrendous, you really can’t put a price on your health! Always check with your local council as many have discounted services in place for dealing with asbestos disposal which can help to reduce the overall cost.

Removal Cost of Asbestos

The average material cost of removing asbestos is usually around £50 per sq metre. The average cost of applying protective adhesive to asbestos material is typically around £8-£15 per sq metre. Costs can increase depending on the size of the project, location and remedial work required.

The average asbestos specialist will usually charge around £200 to £300 per day, although labourers will often work in pairs and labour costs will be factored into the overall price. A typical asbestos removal is expected to take around 3 to 5 days to complete but depends on the size of the area.

Below are some estimated costs of hiring a specialist to remove asbestos:

Job Type Avg. Cost Duration
Professional asbestos survey £200 2-3 hours
Applying protective adhesive to asbestos material £8-£15 per sqm 1-2 days
Full asbestos removal £50 per sqm 3-5 days


Cost Breakdown

Individual costs of a Full Asbestos Removal of a Garage - Total Cost: £2500

45%

Materials
£1125

50%

Tradesmen
£1250

5%

Waste Removal
£125

FAQ's

Removing asbestos on your own may seem like a great idea, particularly once you find out how expensive this job can be. However, you must always use an approved and licensed asbestos specialist as asbestos is extremely dangerous and causes the deaths of over 5,000 people in the UK alone every year. If unsure about whether or not a material in your home contain asbestos, do not be tempted to take a sample and have it checked, disturbing asbestos is dangerous so hire a professional to come in and take a small sample safely then get it checked in the lab. If you suspect you may have asbestos in your home do not disturb the material in any way, call an expert and get it checked out!
Apart from the dangers to health, asbestos has incredible properties and was used in thousands of separate products worldwide. The strength and flexibility made it useful for many building materials and the insulation/fire resistance made it very useful for fire proofing and sound proofing.
Asbestos is a highly heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral which is made up of tiny fibres measuring less than 1 micron thick (human hair is around 100 microns thick). These tiny asbestos fibres are small enough to become airborne if disturbed and can penetrate deep into the air sacs within the lungs if they are inhaled. Once in the lungs, they cannot be expelled by coughing or sneezing. Due to the durability of the fibres they remain in the lungs causing damage for decades which can result in diseases including pleural plaques, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos fibre exposure is the single greatest cause of occupational related disease in the UK according to the Health & Safety Executive, accounting for around 5000 deaths each year. There currently is no cure for asbestos related diseases, so asbestos removal, disposal and encapsulation is incredibly important and subject to regulation.