Did you know that in the UK, some types of asbestos can be legally removed by individuals and businesses that do not have an asbestos removal licence?
Yes, and that fact raised my eyebrow too.
It’s true and unsurprisingly, this confuses many people, including tradespeople.
The end result is some DIYers or untrained tradespeople will risk their health by handling this material in an unsafe manner.
The page you are reading is all about asbestos removal in the UK. The team here at Job Prices want to provide you with all the facts, rules, regulations and even a detailed price guide for removing this nasty material from your property.
We want this guide to be the “go to” resource for anyone that needs information about asbestos removal and pricing.
That’s a tall order, but we think you’ll find this resource very insightful.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there are three types of removal work:
Non-licensed and Non-notifiable – this is work with certain types of asbestos and very few fibres will be released and while the work must meet health and safety requirements, it can be carried out by unlicensed persons who adhere to strict regulations and have completed specific training.
Non-licensed but Notifiable – this work is again with specific types asbestos but is where harmful fibres may be released by, for example; breaking cement/asbestos sheets into smaller pieces. This work should be notified to the relevant authorities (more about that later).
Fully Licensed Work – All medium and high-risk asbestos work must be carried out by fully licensed asbestos firms. This includes almost all work indoors or in poorly ventilated areas.
Note: While some work can be completed by those without a license, this doesn’t mean the work is unsafe. In fact, the UK has one of the strictest asbestos regulations in the world, for both licensed and unlicensed persons and companies.
So even if you think the type of material you have in your home is “low risk”, do yourself a favour and don’t try to remove it yourself.
Without adequate training and knowledge of the removal process, you’ll be putting yourself and family at risk.
What You Can Expect From This Page
The content on this page is 100% unbiased, we are not affiliated with any asbestos firms and don’t sell any type of asbestos service ourselves.
We will provide you with some example prices that we received from an asbestos removal firm and we’ll share knowledge with you about what is and what isn’t licensable work.
We will also provide links to reliable sources such the Health and Safety Executive so you can double check what we claim is based on fact and not rumour.
A recent survey by the Health and Safety Executive in the UK revealed that on average, tradespeople come into contact with asbestos around 100 times per year.
A separate survey by BBC London revealed that 94% of hospitals in the capital contain asbestos. They also discovered that between 2011 and 2017 over one thousand people died from historic asbestos exposure, including seven nurses and doctors.
Despite asbestos being completely banned in 1999, there are still millions of homes riddled with this material.
Each year over 2500 people die in the UK from asbestos-related diseases including Mesothelioma and other cancers.
Unfortunately, most of these cancers are discovered at the advanced stage of growth and treatment is often limited to palliative care rather than a cure.
According to the NHS (National Health Service), approximately 50% of those diagnosed with Mesothelioma will live at least one year after diagnosis.
Only 10% of patients are expected to live five years after diagnosis.
The Silent Killer
Asbestos is often referred to as the silent killer because it can take several decades from initial exposure until severe life changing symptoms first appear.
Early symptoms are also very similar to less dangerous conditions, so early diagnosis is rare.
How Common is it to Find Asbestos in Homes?
A report from the Guardian Newspaper in 2011 revealed that 50% of domestic properties have had asbestos containing products in them at some point.
During the late 1970’s certain types of asbestos were banned from being used in the UK.
From the 1980’s and through to the 1990’s more and more regulations were enforced regarding asbestos, its installation, maintenance and removal.
Finally, in 1999 all asbestos products were banned but we still have a legacy of decades of asbestos installations to contend with.
This will be a threat to the lives of tradespeople for generations to come.
Here are the most common places to find asbestos in homes constructed prior to 1999.
This list is not exhaustive.
- insulation around boiler housing and nearby cupboards
- floor tiles
- wall panels (often near cookers, boilers and chimneys)
- insulation and pipe lagging
- soffit boards
- gutters and pipework
- garage roofs sheets (corrugated)
- integrated garage and carport ceilings (as a fireproofer)
- textured coatings and paints
Asbestos Survey and Sampling Cost
If you suspect asbestos is present in your home but aren’t sure, the first step is to arrange a house survey.
Once the locations of any suspected asbestos products are located, samples can be taken and sent off for a detailed analysis.
The cost of a house survey will vary and depends on the size of the property, several hundred pounds would be a good starting point.
Sampling and analysis are important as you need to know what type of asbestos product is present and how likely it is to create harmful dust.
Some asbestos products are relatively safe if left undisturbed while others shed fibres over time and need to be either encapsulated or removed.
Expect to pay between £150-200 +VAT for collection and analysis.
Self Sampling Kits
You can purchase self-sampling kits online, these come complete with mask, gloves, overalls and instructions.
These cost around £50 +VAT and you can get the results in around two days time.
Bradley Enviro has a price list and more information about their asbestos self-sampling kits which you can find here.
They have also published a very helpful YouTube video explaining how to safely remove a small sample here.
Personally, I would not recommend self-sampling indoors as there’s a risk some fibres could be released in the home. However, they are handy for low-risk external situations, such as soffits, gutters or roof sheets.
Asbestos Removal Cost – 5 Examples
Asbestos removal isn’t the only option available to you.
Many professionals believe that sealing and encapsulation are cheaper and safer options.
More about that later.
First, we want to provide you with some asbestos removal example prices.
Obviously, there are many different products that contain asbestos and some are easier to remove than others.
We have researched the going rate for asbestos removal in the UK and have discovered the following suggested prices.
Disclaimer: these figures were supplied to us by third parties but are not an offer of work, a formal quotation or a contract from us to you.
We urge you to get your own prices as asbestos removal prices vary so much and depend on specific circumstances.
1) Removal and disposal of asbestos roofline soffits to a detached bungalow, approximately 20 square metres of AIB soffit boards, includes a scaffold setup – £2250 +VAT
2) Asbestos Artex ceiling in two rooms to be removed and disposed of, includes air quality testing – £1750 +VAT (this works out at roughly £140 per sq metre of Artex inc VAT)
3) Single garage corrugated roof sheets and side panels removed and disposed of – £1250 +VAT
4) Removal and disposal of small 1 metre long section of asbestos ventilation pipe on roof – £250 +VAT
5) Cost for removal and disposal of 18 metres of asbestos guttering and 8 metres of rainwater pipes – £550+VAT (Asbestos guttering is held in place with clips, not screws/nails etc so it’s very easy to remove)
About These Prices
The five prices shown above were sourced in 2016 and were for a property we worked on in Basingstoke.
We asked the two asbestos firms to quote each item separately but they did both offer us a significant discount for having most of the work done together at the same time.
We chose not to remove the Artex ceiling as it could be covered and encapsulated easily and safely.
Keep reading as we have more information about asbestos sealing and encapsulation.
Other Prices For Comparison
We’ve done a bit of digging around the web and have found some chatter and price lists about asbestos removal prices.
If you are looking for a rough price guide, then explore these sites below.
We are not affiliated with any of these companies and cannot vouch for their work practices or the reliability of their price guides.
Absolute Asbestos Solutions currently have a price list for the most types of asbestos removal. Check it out here.
This website has prices that we feel are fairly accurate.
There are also various forums where homeowners discuss prices they have received. The Money Saving Expert is a wealth of such knowledge.
The Guardian Newspaper featured an article in 2011 where a homeowner was quoted £10,000 to remove Asbestos Artex from 13 ceilings in one house.
Discover How Much Others Have Been Quoted
This is your opportunity to let other visitors to this site know how much you’ve been quoted for asbestos removal in the UK.
If enough people share their figures, we should all get a good picture of how much this type of works currently costs.
|Thomas||Redhill, Surrey||I used a company based in Guildford called [redacted] to remove the corrugated panels in a single garage and also a small amount of roofline boards that had been dumped in the rear garden of a property I recently purchased. They were the cheapest while the highest quote I was given was from [redacted] who tried to charge £1450. (August 2017)||£750.00|
|Natalie Westbrook||Northampton||Your websote is very very informative and you've certainly made a good attempt at explaining the ridiculously complicated asbestos removal rules and regulations. Unfortunately our new home has asbestos ceiling artex, a flue and flat roof panels. We had to instruct a company to remove it all at a cost of over £5000. (July 2017)||£5000.00|
|Kelly||Bridlington||soffit boards on roof of my bungalow. best price received so far is £1200 whoh seems v high as scaffold is already up! (June 2017)||£1200.00|
|Carl Jones||Blackpool||garage roof, ive had three prices so far, the highest £1300 and the lowest £900 (May 2017)||£900.00 and £1300.00|
Want to add your own data? You can do so here (it’s free and no email is required).
What is the Most Expensive Type of Asbestos to Remove?
Pipe lagging is very difficult to fully remove and this type of material contains the most dangerous forms of asbestos:
Also, pipe lagging is rarely found in just one room. If you discover it, then chances are it’s in several locations around the home, including difficult-to-reach lofts and cavities.
Asbestos pipe lagging removal is at the upper end of the cost scale and certainly in the thousands and not the hundreds.
Other types of asbestos that are costly to remove are; sprayed asbestos, loose material and any type of asbestos in enclosed small areas.
Also, damaged and degraded insulation boards tend to leech friable material that makes them especially hazardous to work with.
What is the Cheapest Type of Asbestos to Remove?
Based on our experience, the cheapest form of asbestos to remove is one that’s encased in cement and is located outdoors in an easy-to-reach location.
Garage roof sheets are removed by unwinding screws and lifting the material without breaking it. Asbestos guttering is very similar and is also at the lower end of the price scale.
Asbestos soffit boards are usually pinched into place with timber blocks, which when removed, allows for quick removal that doesn’t involve breaking the material.
Must I Use a Licensed Remover?
All high-risk work with asbestos (for example; where it’s prolonged, will create lots of dust or most work indoors) must be carried out by a licensed asbestos firm.
Not all work is licensable though and some tasks can be done by non-licensed businesses and individuals.
This is referred to as “non-licensed work with asbestos” and the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has a webpage with some examples of maintenance and removal work that be done by unlicensed asbestos firms and individuals:
Of interest is their section regarding roof sheets and how they can be removed by non-licensed traders and firms:
asbestos cement products, (eg roof sheeting and rainwater goods) provided the material is carefully handled/removed without breaking up; this includes work with asbestos cement which is weathered but not otherwise substantially damaged
So This Type of Asbestos is Safe?
This is where confusion creeps in.
Just because some types of asbestos can be removed via the non-licensed rules, this doesn’t mean that this material is safe.
No asbestos is ever safe but there are some situations when the release of harmful fibres is so low (outdoors, asbestos embedded within cement sheets etc) that it can be removed by a non-licensed person who has undergone training and adheres to strict regulations.
That does not mean it’s safe.
Neither does it mean you or your DIYer best friend should do this work either.
If you keep reading, you’ll discover that even “non-licensable” work is well regulated, that procedures must be adhered to and requires training.
The incorrect removal or handling of any type of asbestos can release harmful dust.
It’s also worth noting that if any company you employ to remove asbestos under the “non-licensed” rules intends to break up the asbestos into smaller pieces, it will create dust and the project now becomes “notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos”.
As the name suggests, you would need to notify the authorities of your intended work and they may send someone to check your safety equipment and air quality readings.
Anyone you employ to carry out non-licensable work on asbestos would still need to meet certain health and safety requirements such as:
- completed an asbestos awareness and training course.
- have air quality testing equipment.
- keep records of test results.
- be insured for this type of work.
- have completed a risk assessment and is wearing appropriate clothing and masks that fit the wearer (ie have been face-fit tested).
- employers will need to inform the HSE and the local authority if their employees are working on non-licensable asbestos.
- medical health checks may also be required every three years if exclusions do not apply.
- records of all asbestos work should also be kept for 40 years.
Also, anyone transporting asbestos will need a Hazardous Waste Carriers Licence and appropriate vehicle warning signage in place.
As you can see, even non-licensed asbestos work is very well regulated in the UK.
This is worth repeating again as I know there are many roofers and other tradespeople who think they can do this work without any training: Just because some types of asbestos can be removed without a licence, this doesn’t mean it’s safe for a DIYer or untrained person to do so.
Examples of Legal Unlicenseable Asbestos Removal Firms
Hazmove is a company that specialises in the removal of “non-licensable” asbestos, specifically roof sheets from garages and sheds, i.e asbestos that is contained in cement and is located outdoors. You can explore their website here (we are not affiliated with them but we do know one person who used their services).
GL Consultancy has a team of specialists that remove “non-licensable” asbestos, check out their website here (we have never used their services or know of anyone that has).
Rhodar Asbestos Removal Specialists are fully licensed but they have more information about the different types of removal including non-licensable work. See their website here (we are not affiliated with this company either).
How to Save Money Without Compromising Your Health
We do not recommend the DIY removal of asbestos under any circumstances.
However, we do suggest that you educate yourself on the differences between licensable and non-licensable work.
If your project falls into the non-licensable work category then we suggest you get in touch with a firm that specialises in this type of removal. In our opinion, you are likely to save money as many fully licensed asbestos removers often charge the full price, regardless of the classification.
If your project falls into the licensable work category then you really don’t have much choice; by law, you must have the work carried out by a fully licensed contractor. We suggest you get a minimum of three quotes as, based on our experience, the prices can vary from company to company.
The following image was taken from HSE’s guidance helpsheet:
Below you can find a decision flowchart.
This was taken from the HSE website in June 2016:
What About Encapsulation and Sealing?
Asbestos only poses a threat if fibres are released and there are occasions when it’s safer and cheaper to “seal in” the existing asbestos rather than trying to remove it and dispose of it.
Whether this type of work is carried out by a licensed or unlicensed firm will depend on the type of asbestos, its condition, location and how likely fibres are to be released.
Here are some examples of sealing and encapsulation:
Ceilings – asbestos can be found in some ceilings and rather than trying to remove it, a separate ceiling can be hung directly below it. This is an effective way to box in the harmful material. There is some disagreement about this type of work as while any harmful fibres will be sealed in, they can still be released during future work such as drilling a hole for a new light fitting. It’s therefore important that any new homeowners are informed about the presence of asbestos, which could make the property less desirable.
Corrugated Garage Roof Sheets – there are several coatings and sealants that can be spray applied to the surface and underside of asbestos containing cement roof sheets. This will effectively seal in the fibres preventing their release.
Asbestos Soffits – these can be painted with a masonry-type paint to seal in fibres and prevent their release. If you want a low cost roofline, then both the timber fascias and asbestos soffits can be capped with plastic boards, this would seal in any asbestos effectively.
Marcus Lockett, from SPI Performance Coatings wrote the following in a publication last year:
While many people’s instinct might be to remove asbestos, it’s worth remembering that it’s not necessarily the safest or most cost effective solution. Providing the asbestos is deemed to be in good condition, taking the route of asbestos encapsulation is a highly effective, more affordable way of managing asbestos, not to mention, less hazardous and more efficient.
Sealing and encapsulation is an affordable and safe way to manage asbestos.
However – Here’s an Opposing View:
The removal and disposal of asbestos deals with the problem permanently.
Sealing and encapsulation methods do not.
By leaving the harmful material in place, you are effectively kicking the can down the street for the next 20 years or so.
Sealants won’t last forever and need to re-applied so they remain effective.
Also, any boxing-in of internal asbestos also hides the material from view, it can still pose a threat to those who do not know or forget that it’s there. Painters, decorators, plumbers and electricians all carry out work that could disturb hidden encapsulated asbestos.
One must also try to predict what asbestos regulations will look like in the future.
It’s safe to assume that the rules will be much tighter than they are now.
Will there one day be a database of dwellings that contain asbestos?
Will it be mandatory to declare asbestos when selling a home?
Will it cost more to remove and dispose of asbestos in the future?
How will all of the above affect the value and desirability of a home?
Careful consideration must, therefore, be given before deciding whether to remove or encapsulate asbestos.
Did You Know?
After the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, over 400,000 people in New York were exposed to previously sealed asbestos fibres.
We aren’t suggesting that this type of incident will happen to you but an unexpected wall, ceiling or roof collapse or storm damage could potentially release previously sealed or encapsulated asbestos fibres.
Can My Local Council Help With Removal?
Your local council may be able to help you with the cost of asbestos removal if you live in a council house or shared ownership home.
Also, many councils offer an asbestos disposal service to everyone living in their catchment area, some will even collect it for you.
However – There’s a Catch:
Every single council that we have contacted told us that they only collect and dispose of asbestos if it hasn’t been removed by a commercial firm or tradesperson.
In other words; if you risk your health by removing the asbestos, then they’ll come and collect it, either for free or at a discount.
Although it’s not the intention of any council to encourage DIY asbestos removals, that is the consequence of this policy. Either pay through the nose for a professional company to remove it or DIY and get the council to dispose of it.
Bedford Council currently has the following statement on their website:
The Council provides a collection service for small quantities of asbestos, normally sheets of asbestos cement, which have not been removed by a commercial contractor
The City of York Council are even more direct:
The service is only available to residents who have removed the materials from their property themselves. If a builder has removed the asbestos, then they are responsible
So, if for whatever reason, you find yourself with a quantity of asbestos that has been removed from your property, you should first call the local council as they may collect and dispose of it for far less than a commercial company would charge.
Examples of non-licensable but notifiable work can be found here.
Below is a selection of photos taken from the Beware Asbestos website, which is well worth exploring.
This page was created in Spring 2017. Regulations, policies and prices may have changed since then. If in doubt, be safe and get independent advice from an asbestos expert.