What To Do When You Discover Asbestos In Your Building

Dangerous asbestos roof - Medical studies have shown that the asbestos particles can cause cancer - toned image

Before 1985, dangerous asbestos fibres were often used in a range of Australian construction materials. In those days, the naturally occurring mineral fibre – with its versatility, tensile strength, and insulating qualities – was thought to be God’s gift to the construction industry.

We now know that exposure to asbestos can be detrimental to your health. If you suspect that a building where you live, work or frequent contains asbestos, immediate action is required.

Step One: Evacuate

Exposure to asbestos poses significant potential health risks and can be life-threatening. If you are concerned that you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor. If you suspect that the material is present in your home or building, and you are not qualified to work with it, your immediate priority should be to secure the site and evacuate. You should then call in the professionals and have the site surveyed. They will test for Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) and advise how to proceed.

Keep out sign Asbestor

Step Two: Identify & Assess

If you have reason to believe that ACMs are present in your building, contract an accredited Building Consultant to conduct an Asbestos Identification Inspection. In some cases, the presence of asbestos can be presumed prima facie but ordinarily, the inspector will take samples for analysis, to ascertain the presence of ACMs. Once the samples have been tested, an Asbestos Register (of both the analysed and ‘presumed’ ACMs) is compiled. This must be displayed prominently on the property to give clear warning to occupants, visitors and tradesmen where any asbestos is located.


Step Three: Remove

Removing asbestos is a dangerous task that should be carried out by licensed professionals. DIY asbestos removal is not recommended but, if you decide to tackle the asbestos yourself, first consult the official code of practice for asbestos removal, authorised by Work Safe Australia.

In older homes, three types of asbestos are commonly found: cladding, fencing and roofing. Many ACMs are bonded or encapsulated and, in this state, are not hazardous. But problems occur when the ACMs are demolished, drilled, cut, moved or otherwise disrupted, releasing the toxic asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. When removing asbestos, use tools and techniques that are least likely to disrupt the asbestos fibres.

Protective clothing is an imperative for asbestos removal. Porous materials, like shoelaces and fabric, should be avoided because they absorb the asbestos fibres and transport them beyond the worksite. Recommended safety gear includes:

  • Respirator
  • Asbestos-proof coveralls
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Steel-capped gumboots

Bauer Elementary

Step Four: Disposal

Once the Asbestos has been removed from your home or building, you are left with the question of disposal. Where large quantities of asbestos must be disposed of, a skip bin may be your best option. Not all skip bin companies accept ACMs so discuss this upfront when enquiring.

If you prefer to dispose of the ACMs at a tip or waste disposal site, ensure that your chosen facility accepts asbestos. To find an asbestos disposal facility near you, search the National Waste Management Database.

Every site will have a list of strict rules around asbestos disposal. In most cases, the ACMs must be double-wrapped in black plastic, and packages must be thoroughly sealed with tape and labelled ‘ASBESTOS’.

Asbestos detection, removal and disposal are time-consuming and costly, but essential. This once-popular building material has left behind a deadly legacy that must be dealt with swiftly and cautiously, in all cases.

Have you had a brush with asbestos in your home or workplace? Share your insights and experiences in the comments section below.

Author Bio:

Jerry Tyrrell has over 40 years of experience in the building, architectural, timber pest inspections and asbestos testing & identification and founded Tyrrells Property Inspections more than 30 years ago. Since then Jerry has supervised the inspection of, or directly inspected, almost 80,000 buildings. He has hands-on experience in most building trades, and has designed, built, supervised and project managed building projects from $5,000 to $8m.

How Much Does Doors Plus Zone Living Cost?

Doors Plus Zone Living

Doors Plus Zone Living (here) looks like a good solution for open plan living here in Australia. It allows you to still keep the open feel of a single large room, but with the economy of multiple zones for cooling or heating.

We have two areas in our house that we was to section off from the other areas of the house for both cooling reasons as well as sound isolation and privacy.

The first of these areas is our family / rumpus / play room at the back of the house.

Family Room Zone Living

Internal Glass DoorThis area looks pretty easy to separate off from the rest of the house. The door frame is already there, so you should only need the doors and hardware. Those building supplies would cost about $340 from Bunnings for a pair of doors with safety glass.

To use Zone Living in this space would cost about $1600!

I had also looked at using Door Plus’ Zone Living as an option for our office. Since there is no wall there at the moment there would be a lot more involved in this area to put a door in.


One of the features that they claim for Zone Living is:

… assists in shielding noise travelling throughout the home, eliminating one of the major concerns created by open plan living.

Since I record audio in my office, having some sound shielding for the room would be highly beneficial. When I was in their show room though I had a look at some Zone Living examples and wasn’t too impressed.

Gaps in Zone Living Doors

The gap that you see in the door is present in all examples at the show room. That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in it’s ability to provide any noise isolation for the office.

Besides not providing good seals between rooms the cost was also rather high at about $1300!

Even though it will be a bit more work to put in the doors and wall myself, we will NOT be getting Doors Plus Zone Living.

Free Coupons for your Renovation Projects

This last week I have been chatting a bit with Ethan over at One Project Closer. I’ve been following their web-site since 2008, shortly after they started the site. The site is written by two different couples who own three houses between them and are kept busy with the upkeep and renovations on those sites.

While chatting with Ethan he reminded me about a few coupon pages that they have. The pages are for Home Depot, Lowes and Sears and they are regularly updated with the most recent coupons.

There are some pretty decent coupons on there including some 10% off coupons, free shipping or delivery coupons, and many more.

My only complaint is that the coupons are only for Home Depot, Lowes and Sears in the USA. We have Home Depot and Sears in Canada, but the coupons aren’t valid here. Lowes should be coming soon to Western Canada, which is exciting, and if I’m lucky some of the coupons for Lowes will work when they open.

How To Find Environmentally Friendly / Sustainable Timber and Wood

I think that it would surprise a lot of people to find out that timber can be one of your most environmentally friendly options when it comes to construction materials.

Sustainably harvested timber, when compared to other building materials, has a very small carbon footprint. When done sustainably the tree farms are also a natural part of the carbon cycle, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. It also takes a lot less energy to create building material from timber than it does from other manufactured building products.

I say “can be” because it depends on where the timber comes from and how the trees are harvested and the forests managed. There were many times driving through Australia that we would see tree farms along the sides of the road. These forests are managed to provide a renewable source of timber. I can also remember as a child driving through the Canadian Rocky Mountains and seeing huge swaths of land completely clear cut of all the trees. I can’t say if there was going to be replanting, but from a child’s perspective it appeared awfully bleak.

Forestry management has obviously improved a lot in the last 25 years since I remember seeing those clear cut forests (that makes me feel really old) . Now if someone is going to school for forestry (Natural Resource Management, which I had looked at doing before joining YWAM as a full-time volunteer missionary) chances are pretty good they are looking at studying forestry management and sustainable practices.

Here is a list of organizations that certify if timber has been harvested in a sustainable way:

By purchasing timber that has been certified you are helping to ensure that you are using a sustainable product that will not have a negative impact on the environment.

It is still estimated that about 30% or hardwood products imported into the US are from suspicious or illegal sources. In some countries it is estimated that up to 90% of logging is done illegally. These methods are not sustainable and contribute to the deforestation of areas like the Amazon basin and Indonesia.

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