Asbestos blog

In the era of do-it-yourself home renovations, many homeowners are knocking down ceilings and walls, and tearing out floor tiles and old pipes. But in their efforts to upgrade and beautify their older homes, they might unknowingly be contaminating the air they breathe with toxic asbestos fibers.

Three of the six types of asbestos – chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos) – were widely used across the UK, until amosite and crocidolite were banned in 1985, with chrysotile following suit in 1999. Although now outlawed, asbestos remains in thousands of buildings throughout the country.

Thanks to its almost universal usage and the wide array of products that contain it, asbestos could potentially turn up anywhere in residential properties built before 1999. That said, some of the most common places asbestos is found in the home include:

  • Roofs, either corrugated roofing or felt lining
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Artex
  • Airing cupboards
  • Around boilers
  • Behind fuse boxes
  • Pipe lagging
  • Soffits
  • Around water tanks
  • Behind fireplaces
  • Guttering
  • Panelling

Why was asbestos used so frequently by builders?

Put simply, asbestos is a brilliant building material, albeit a deadly one. It’s fire resistant, tough, can absorb soundwaves, provide insulation, was widely available before the ban, and it cost builders next to nothing to buy, all of which made it very attractive to the construction industry. 

It is estimated that asbestos has been used in 3,000+ different products over the years, including things like adhesives, cements, textiles, flooring, roofing felts, and insulation products. 

Asbestos didn’t stop with the construction industry, either. It has also been used in things such as talcum powder and cigarette filters in days gone by. Frightening stuff. 

Is it illegal to sell a property with asbestos?

Absolutely not, although you will have to disclose its presence if you are already aware of it. The Property Misdescriptions Act of 2013 states that it is an offence to withhold such information, and failing to abide by the law could invalidate the sale and result in prosecution.

What about if I’m unaware of asbestos, but a survey says it’s present?

If a buyer’s survey uncovers asbestos and you were previously unaware of it, there are no repercussions. There are no laws stating that you need to be aware of asbestos in your property before a sale.

Surveyors often encounter asbestos whilst conducting surveys for buyers and it can negatively affect the sale, so it’s a good idea to have your own survey done before going to market. This will ensure you know exactly where you stand and prevent any unwanted surprises further down the road.

Does asbestos affect property prices?

It can, but the extent to which the presence of asbestos will affect property value will also depend upon a number of factors, such as how much is present, where it is, and what state it’s in. 

As removal of asbestos is so expensive, property prices are often adjusted to reflect the cost of the work involved to be rid of it. 

Can asbestos stop a property sale altogether?

Potentially, yes, but there are a number of variables to be taken into consideration, so it’s impossible to give a definitive answer. Things like the current condition of the asbestos and the buyer’s attitude towards finding the mineral in the home will all have an effect on whether or not the sale will proceed.

From a legal standpoint, however, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing stopping you selling a property containing asbestos. 


As we’ve covered above, asbestos is remarkably common in UK homes, but it only becomes dangerous if disturbed or damaged. As it is the fibres that are hazardous when breathed in, asbestos in a solid and stable state is relatively safe, but any disturbance or damage, such as drilling a hole for example, could result in dust being released and inhaled, which is obviously to be avoided.

Therefore, finding out that your prospective property purchase has asbestos present isn’t automatically the end of the world, but it is something to be aware of. You should use the results of your survey to negotiate a price drop to cover the cost of removal, but pulling out blindly without full consideration isn’t advisable.

It’s also important to remember that if the asbestos is in good condition, it could be years before it needs to be addressed. That said, when it does need to be removed, it will cost you a pretty penny to do so

Get your free home buyers/sellers guide

Join our newsletter and receive your free home buyer or sellers guide. Our guides give you lots of tips and tricks to help you with your journey. Just enter your details below to receive your copy now.