Poor asbestos surveys can lead to unexpected costs

 We have found that significant quantities of unanticipated asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are discovered in as many as one in ten building projects involving properties constructed before the year 2000.

There can be a number of reasons for this: The scope of any asbestos removal work may have been based on a poor survey which either failed to identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs) or underestimated the quantity involved. Asbestos is often found hidden behind other ACMs or deep within the fabric of the building well beyond the reach of even an intrusive survey. For instance, the removal of asbestos insulating board (AIB) often reveals another layer behind or more commonly contaminated debris in the void or even redundant pipework lagged with asbestos insulation. Remember, the survey team are not able to remove asbestos panels to assess the void behind. At a recent refurbishment of a 1930s building, asbestos was found on pipework hidden not only beneath the screed but also covered by blockwork from a previous refurb in the late 1970s which only came to light once the strip-out had commenced.

Whatever the reasons, finding unexpected asbestos material is a nightmare scenario for the quantity surveyor, cost consultant and project manager. Initially there are the additional costs of remediating it to contend with. A typical scenario, removal of let’s say 50 square metres of asbestos-containing ceiling panels found above a solid plaster ceiling removed during strip-out will probably set you back £10k. The safe decontamination of 100 sq metres of asbestos-lagged pipework located behind panelling could cost in the region of £25k.

However, these fees are likely to be dwarfed by the costs incurred by the delay caused to the project’s programme. The disruption caused by even a modest amount of additional removal can have an inordinate impact on the project as a whole.

Global Environmental has the skills and resources to help schools discharge their duties under the Control of Asbestos Regulations and the Construction, Design and Management Regulations. They will arrange a survey of your school to identify any asbestos containing material, assess the condition and risk and recommend a course of action.

To make an appointment call 01279 213600

Paul Phillips, Operations Manager, Global Environmental


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