Do I Need an Asbestos Survey to Sell a Commercial Property?

Do I need an asbestos survey to sell a commercial property?The owner of any commercial property must have an asbestos report in order to prove that the property is safe for occupation. This is essential if the building was constructed prior to 2000. The best way in which to get an asbestos report is to have a professional team conduct an asbestos survey. Legislation is quite clear – the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that any person who owns, occupies or has a repair obligation a non-domestic building has the statutory obligation to ensure that the premises have been correctly surveyed. This also includes having a management plan in place.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It was widely used in the construction industry because of its amazing properties.  Added to thousands of materials, it was best known for its fireproofing properties. Asbestos was also largely used in insulation material. It added strength to building materials. In fact, there are a number of properties that made asbestos the additive of choice for most building materials. Asbestos is resistant to heat, chemicals and fire.  Additionally, it was easy to obtain and use. It was touted as the ‘wonder’ material of the construction industry and widely used for years. It became popular in the UK after the industrial revolution. Many, if not all old buildings contain some form of asbestos. It is found in many fixtures within a building including the following:

  • insulation
  • roof and ceiling tiles
  • pipe lagging
  • guttering
  • soffits and fascias
  • electrical panels
  • cisterns

Why is it dangerous?

Asbestos, however, is friable when old or damaged. This means that it can release its microscopic fibres into the air. As asbestos is extremely strong, does not dissolve, and the human body cannot break it down, it is a serious health hazard. If a person unsuspectingly inhales the asbestos fibres, they can lodge in the lungs. They are sharp and can slice into the lung tissue.

The movement one makes when breathing along with the body trying to expel the asbestos fibre causes it to tear and damage the lungs. As a result of this damage, and the scar tissue from the body trying to heal itself can cause the development of a number of asbestos-related diseases. These include pleural plaques, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The frightening thing is that there is no threshold dose of asbestos below which there is no risk. This means that the inhalation of a single asbestos fibre greatly increases the risk of mesothelioma.

Selling your commercial property? You need an asbestos survey

The control of asbestos regulations is clear on who needs an asbestos survey. The necessity of an asbestos survey extends to property owners wishing to sell their commercial building. The sale is unlikely to go through if there is no evidence of an asbestos survey and management plan for any asbestos-containing materials within the building.

While there is no legal obligation on the seller’s part to provide an asbestos survey and report, it is his legal duty to have an asbestos report and management plan if the building is an old building. Moreover, the person purchasing the building will want all necessary information pertaining to the building he would like to purchase. It is clear then that the seller of an older commercial building should produce all relevant details of the asbestos status of the building.

Moreover, if the person purchasing the building by way of bank finance, the asbestos reports will be necessary to facilitate the sale. Bearing in mind that the owner of the commercial building is legally responsible for managing any asbestos present within the building, it is clear that an asbestos survey, its report and the management plan is in place prior to selling.

Different types of asbestos surveys

Conducting an asbestos survey is not as simple as it may sound. It should be completed by a professional company with experienced and skilled surveyors. There are 2 types of asbestos surveys. These are the management survey and the refurbishment and demolition survey. The management survey is the more popular type of survey as it serves to locate any asbestos-containing materials within a building, the extent thereof and their condition. The management survey is generally one that involves a visual inspection of the building. It takes note of the condition of any asbestos-containing materials, along ith the risk they could pose during normal occupancy of the building. This survey can involve minimal sampling and very little intrusive work.

The refurbishment and demolition survey is a little more involved. It is necessary (and mandatory) before any renovation or destruction work of a building takes place. When a building is in the process of renovation, asbestos-containing materials will get damaged, increasing the probability of asbestos fibres being released into the air and posing a huge threat to those performing the renovation work. This particular survey is detailed and fully comprehensive. It is also fully intrusive so the building that is being surveyed will need to be vacated so that samples can be taken. The samples will provide the means to determine the type, the location as well as the extent of all asbestos-containing materials.

Trust a professional company

We can assist. Our expert team of surveyors have the skill, experience and the knowledge to provide a comprehensive asbestos survey that will meet all requirements. Each of the surveys we provide conforms to the legislation set out by the HSE. Our fully qualified and experienced surveyors can provide a comprehensive and cost effective survey for your building. Additionally, our surveyors can provide additional information on the best course of action. We can give you the certificates you need for your business, and ensure that your building is in compliance with legislation.

In order to sell your commercial building, it is essential to have the required information on hand. This includes a comprehensive asbestos survey and report, along with an appropriate management plan. Let us assist.