Fixer-Upper Asbestos Facts

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 14 March 2018 11:19

Asbestos is the four-letter word of DIY-ers across the nation. What many individuals think will be a fast and cheap flip often turns into a hazmat nightmare. Although many home inspections can detect products containing asbestos, sometimes these building materials aren’t found until demo day comes and it’s much too late.

What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a fire-retardent material and thermal and acoustic insulator that was extremely popular in home construction products from the 1940s through the 1970s. What was not known at the times was that asbestos fibers can lead to respiratory issues including lung disease. According to Darren Miller, attorney and founder of D. Miller Law, asbestos is only dangerous when it’s fibers are present in the air. Therefore, a house made with asbestos materials is only dangerous if those materials are disrupted- which is often the case during a renovation. 

Asbestos was mainly used for insulation on basement boilers and pipes. However, it can also be found in other materials, including: blown-in attic insulation, vinyl floor tiles, linoleum, window caulking and glazing, roofing materials, HVAC duct insulation, siding material, plaster, fiber cement siding, corrugated heavy duty panels, and some forms of paint.

Proper Precautions
According to This Old House, asbestos material that has been damaged, easily crumbles, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded will release fibers and create a health hazard. If asbestos material is damaged or could potentially be disturbed, professional assistance is required. 

Consider contacting an industrial hygiene firm first to inspect the affected area. An assessment will include a visual exam and collection and analysis of samples. If asbestos is present, a written evaluation that includes location and extent of damage as well as suggestions for correction or prevention should be provided. In addition, ask the firm to come back after the asbestos has been removed to inspect the area and ensure its safety. 

According to, the cost of an industrial hygiene firm, or inspector, to do a pre-and post inspection usually ranges from $600-$1,000.

Professional Repair or Removal
The next step is to contact an asbestos abatement contractor to develop a clean-up or repair plan. 

Asbestos repair will require sealing or covering the asbestos material, locking in the fibers and making itsafe to be around. Although cheaper initially, repairing asbestos can make later removal more difficult, and in turn, more expensive. 

Asbestos removal should only be performed by contractors licensed by the state to do so. These contractors should have the proper gear required to safely handle this type of material. Some of the gear contractors must purchase and use during extraction include: respirators, eyewear, coveralls, rubber boots, gloves, and a HEPA vacuum. Add in the cost of plastic and tape to partition areas of the home, as well as transport and disposal of the asbestos material, and this can quickly become a costly project. 

According to, the labor costs for the removal of asbestos range from $200-$700 per hour, a total estimated cost of $1,000.

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James Stevenson

Hi, My name is James and I've been involved in the property and real estate industry for 10 years now. I hope people will like to read about my thoughts and experiences in the industry and please contact me if you want to discuss my articles further!

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