Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
When homeowners realize they have asbestos in their home, they are often hesitant to have it removed. While it's true asbestos removal can come at a high cost, having asbestos in the home is dangerous and it should be removed. How much does asbestos removal cost per square metre and why is it a home improvement worth investing in?
In many cases, homeowners may not know if asbestos is present in their home. It probably is present in older homes because it was used extensively until the hazards of asbestos were discovered. Many homes built in the 1950s have asbestos external cladding, internal cladding and even asbestos roofs. When the dangers were discovered, asbestos was phased out, but it was a slow process and homes built before 1990 also contain asbestos.
There is no single answer to how much asbestos removal costs per square metre. The answer depends on where the asbestos is and how hard it is to remove. Asbestos can be anywhere, from fencing to roofing and internal walls. You can find asbestos on external cladding, eaves and elsewhere around a house.
How much asbestos removal costs per square metre depends on where it is found. These are the costs of having asbestos removed from some typical places around the house:
The cost of asbestos removal goes down for bigger jobs. For example, removing roofing might cost:
The reason for the price difference is because of the time it takes to do a small job versus the time it takes to do a larger job. A small job will take longer because of travel and setup time, while a large job does not require extra travel time or setup time. A large job can be done more quickly than a small job. The same is true for external or internal cladding. While a small external cladding job might cost $80 to $110m2, a large job might cost $45 to $80m2.
Also note that some asbestos removal costs are by the metre. Eaves and fences are metre rates, while larger jobs like roofs, external and internal cladding are by the square metre. Square metre rates don't apply to fencing or eaves because the best calculation is done by linear metres.
The linear or square metre rate cannot give you an accurate price for asbestos removal. Prices vary depending on the size and complexity of a job. However, some average costs for asbestos removal may be:
These are a few typical costs and they can vary. You can calculate the square metres of material that needs to be removed, but use both the high and low costs when you do your calculations. Your cost may be somewhere in the middle or at the low or high end of the scale. Knowing both will give you a better idea of the potential cost of asbestos removal. If your roof is being removed, the cost will be higher for a steeply pitched roof or a second storey roof.
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You may not know if asbestos is present in your home. Asbestos is studied in a laboratory and they charge anywhere from $25 to $200 per sample, but asbestos inspection companies usually get discount rates. An asbestos inspector will take samples from your home and send them to a lab for analysis. They charge different rates for faster service:
In general, inspectors will take at least five samples and the cost may be $950 for a report after the samples have been analyzed. If you insist on same day service, the cost will be higher.
These are per sample rates. If an inspector takes a few samples from your home, the costs will be higher. Different asbestos inspection services will charge different rates, but many will charge more for faster service.
According to the Australian Government Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, only hire inspectors who are:
Asbestos comes in two forms. Some is in solid sheets (non-friable) and won't be a hazard unless the sheets are cut, drilled or otherwise disturbed. Friable asbestos is easily disturbed and an asbestos inspector will take precautions to make sure no asbestos is released into the air.
An alternative to asbestos removal is asbestos encapsulation. This should only be done if an asbestos inspector determines it is a viable alternative. Asbestos encapsulation costs between $13 and $15 per square metre and ensures the asbestos won't break apart in the future.
While asbestos removal can come at a relatively high cost, not having it removed can pose greater dangers. It can cause various cancers and respiratory disorders. According to statistics, 13 people die of asbestos related diseases every week even today. That's 672 per year and asbestos has been phased out, but many homes still have asbestos in them.
Asbestos can cause a variety of cancers and respiratory problems are not uncommon. The chance of having an asbestos related disease increases due to:
Since many homes built before 1989 contain asbestos and many fibro houses still exist in Australia, it's not worth taking a chance with asbestos. This can be especially true if you have children, who will be exposed to asbestos throughout their young lives. It's worth having asbestos removed or encapsulated to save your family from being another asbestos statistic.
If you're unsure about the amount of asbestos in your home, remember that homes built before 1989 will have some asbestos in them and older homes may have asbestos cladding and roofing. Old vinyl floors also contained asbestos and many other products were made from asbestos. If you have an older home, have it inspected by an asbestos inspection company and if asbestos is found, have it removed or, if the inspector says it can be encapsulated, have it encapsulated. Don't let your family be exposed to asbestos. It's just not worth the risk.
*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.
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