Last Updated Apr 3, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
Asbestos can be found in many Australian homes. It is a dangerous substance and should not be cut into or altered in any way. Asbestos fibres can be inhaled and they can have severe consequences. How much does asbestos removal cost? It depends on the amount of asbestos that needs to be removed and if large amounts of asbestos need to be removed, it can be an expensive process. Removing asbestos can be a home improvement and should be considered for your family's health.
The history of asbestos goes back as far as 2500 BC when it was used as an embalming substance for Pharaohs and in cooking pots. When asbestos was discovered as a building product, it was considered a miracle product. It was used for house cladding, internal cladding, roofs, pipes and as insulation. Thousands of "fibro" homes were built using asbestos cladding because it was inexpensive and a good insulator.
By 1911, health concerns were raised about asbestos in Australia, but authorities suggested better ventilation systems for workers in asbestos mines. It wasn't until 1961 that more serious concerns were addressed and in 1970 building unions demanded the ban of asbestos. Asbestos began to be phased out, but it wasn't until 2003 that a full ban on the use of asbestos was put in place.
Because asbestos wasn't banned altogether until 2003, many homes still have asbestos in them. Fibro homes are also still standing and continue to be sold. Many of them have asbestos cladding, asbestos interior walls and even asbestos roofing. While the dangers of asbestos are well known, up to 650 Australians die each year because of asbestos related illnesses.
According to the Department of Health, if a house was built before the mid 1980s, there is a good chance it has asbestos in it. If it was built after 1990, it may not contain asbestos, but many houses were built before 1985 and may contain asbestos.
There are two types of asbestos. Bonded asbestos is asbestos that has been bonded, such as exterior and interior cladding. If left alone, bonded asbestos is not a health hazard, but if it is cut into, it can be a health hazard because it doesn't take much asbestos to cause respiratory problems that can get worse over time.
Friable asbestos is loose asbestos and it can be a major health concern because it can easily get into the air. Loose fill insulation used to be used in ceilings and can be a major health concern. It has been removed from most buildings, but may still exist in some buildings. Other types of friable asbestos include:
You never know if asbestos is present, but if a home was built before 1990, it may have friable or bonded asbestos. It was used extensively until its health hazards were understood and can be present in older homes.
Rather than take a chance and remove floor tiles or hot water pipes, it's a good idea to have them tested before you remove them. Bonded asbestos can easily be released into the air if it is tampered with and it only takes a small amount to cause serious respiratory problems. Friable asbestos is more easily released into the atmosphere and can linger or fall to the ground, where it can be released again. Even bonded asbestos can be a health hazard if it is damaged, weathered or deteriorated. Damage to bonded asbestos can make it friable asbestos and even brushing against it can release asbestos fibres.
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Asbestos removal is measured by the square metre. It can cost anywhere from $25m2 to $50m2 and the cost will depend on the complexity of the job. Some factors to consider include:
Some approximate costs for asbestos removal may be:
These are approximate prices based on averages and if you need more asbestos removed, it may cost less because small amounts of asbestos cost more due to travel time, setup time and tipping costs. Since asbestos removal companies charge by the square metre, one job may be more expensive than another and these prices may not include tipping charges. On average, the tip will charge $450 and travel time may also be included in the price.
Asbestos removal services must have valid licences for their state. Hiring an unlicensed contractor is against the law because asbestos removal services must be trained and able to remove asbestos without releasing any asbestos into the atmosphere. After the asbestos is removed, it may be sealed in plastic before it is transported to the tip.
You can get quotes from asbestos removal services, but don't choose the lowest quote. Asbestos is not to be taken lightly and you want to know that a removal service will:
You may find a lower quote, but don't accept a lower quote unless the company can demonstrate its competence and provide you with references. A company that has been in business for a long time is probably a company that knows what they are doing, but you also want to check their safety record. Insurance is another important consideration because an uninsured asbestos removal service may not take their responsibilities as highly as a company that carries insurance. Their insurance will protect you in case of a mishap.
You may also want to have your property inspected after asbestos is removed. An inspection service may cost $1000 to $1500, but if you've had a large amount of asbestos removed, the inspection can assure you there is no loose asbestos on your property or inside your home.
It's worth mentioning again that asbestos removal is not something to take lightly. Even small amounts of asbestos can be dangerous, so take every precaution and hire only the best asbestos removal company in your area. Having an inspection after the asbestos is removed will give you the peace of mind you need to know your family is not in danger of asbestos exposure. You want to be absolutely certain that asbestos is not present in the air and cost should be a secondary consideration.
*Costs and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.