Asbestos missed in Homebuyers report?

by Readers Question

9:55 AM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Asbestos missed in Homebuyers report?

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Asbestos missed in Homebuyers report?

My friends recently purchased a property and were looking to extend living accommodation into the garage.

However, a builder has reported that asbestos is in the garage and subsequently the quote received is quite a lot more than anticipated when the property was purchased.

The Homebuyers report didn’t flag up any evidence of asbestos to the garage and I was enquiring as to whether there is any form of action that can be taken in this situation to reclaim any of the additional cost for removing the asbestos or whether they are stuck paying the full bill?

Many thanks

Chris

Editor Note:

I have added a pic below of the loose description of a Homebuyer report below.



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:12 AM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Chris,

In the past I have always found Homebuyers reports to be very comprehensive and have certainly seen details of asbestos included so I am surprised this was omitted.

I would go back to the surveyors head office and ask if spotting asbestos is normally included and then take it further possibly as a PI insurance claim after further investigation with RICS >> http://www.rics.org/uk/regulation1/

Alan Bromley

12:36 PM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

I bought a house in 2015 and had a full survey done. There was no indication that asbestos-cement sheeting had been used extensively to clad stud walls and ceilings all over the house so there was no come-back with the surveyor. After paying through the nose to have some of it removed I then found a building company that had an asbestos skip back at the yard and they removed a lot more at a considerably lower cost.

The point I'm getting at is that if it's bonded cement sheeting, be careful who you choose to remove it. You don't need a company with an asbestos licence for something that only has 5-10% asbestos in it; in fact, you can even do it yourself with some sensible precautions as it's only potentially dangerous if you break it or saw it up. Look at the HSE web site for advice.

If it's on the garage roof that would have been obvious and should have been pointed out to you. If it's not obvious then go about removing it but please don't fall for the 'smoke and mirrors' company I paid initially. A full body suit and respirator really isn't necessary for asbesos-cement sheeting!

Simon Bentley

14:28 PM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Additionally its also worth noting that asbestos,at least the type commonly found in garage roofs etc, cannot be "diagnosed" by inspection. Builders etc will often err on the side of caution but there is plenty of modern fibre cement panels around in the existing building stock of the none asbestos type which uses cellulose in place of asbestos. Asbestos was phased out from the 1980s onward and in essence completely outlawed in 1999.

Depending upon when the garage was constructed it may be worth trying to establish the manufacturer (assuming its of the prefab type) who may be able to state what style of sheet they used when - or it may be worth getting the suspect material tested, which could easily save the cost of the test if it proves negative, though if positive of course its an extra cost and thus the test is a bit of a gamble,

I myself have such a garage roof and am intent on getting the panels tested before I decide what to do - as we are going to convert the rear part (its a very very long garage) into a "summer room".

Graeme

14:44 PM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

In 2002 we bought a ground floor flat in a large 1880's house converted into flats in 1930's. Communal central heating and hot water system installed at that time and still in use 70 years later! We commissioned a Homebuyers Report -- the resulting report was, to all intents and purposes, fine.
The property needed general refurbishment including rewiring which we decided to do before moving in. We contracted out the whole job to one company. Thank goodness we did. On the first day, as the old electrics were removed, the floor boards were lifted up to put the new cables in etc. and it was found that all of the communal central heating pipes were covered with asbestos cement as lagging. Much of it was in poor condition and had cracked/fallen off and been swept up into the corners out of the way!! Contractors downed tools and walked out. Our 6 week refurbishment programme became 4 months by the time licensed asbestos contractors lifted all our floors and totally cleared the voids and relagged the pipes with modern day lagging. Our refurbishment costs increased by nearly £15K (then!)
This was completely missed by the surveyor. There was not even a suggestion in the report that due to the age of the building, the date of conversion, and the existence of a communal CH system, that asbestos may be a possibility and that we should investigate further. We looked into the possibilities of taking legal action but were advised that it was only 50/50 chance of success. At that time the small claims court limit was very low,so not worth the bother, whereas today it is £10K so would have been! In the end, our freeholders contributed a reasonable sum towards the costs, but we had to swallow the rest.
15 years on, we still live in the property - very happily - and the communal CH /HW system is still going strong at 80+ years old albeit with 2 modern gas fired boilers now!
Good luck with your asbestos claim.

Gary Nock

22:33 PM, 20th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Homebuyers is a very basic report and just basically says what the property is worth. A full survey would have been required to identify asbestos and even then a specialist asbestos may be needed.

David Price

10:05 AM, 25th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Chris

To put the matter into context the Description of the RICS Homebuyer Service states that the surveyor does not carry out an asbestos survey and does not act as an asbestos surveyor. Presumably when you commissioned the Homebuyer Report you signed terms and conditions which incorporated the Description of the RICS Homebuyer Service. I trust that this helps.

David Price

David Price

10:22 AM, 25th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Chris

To put the matter into context, the Description of the RICS Homebuyer Service states that the surveyor does not carry out an asbestos survey and does not act as an asbestos surveyor. Presumably when you commissioned the Homebuyer Report, you signed terms and conditions which incorporated the Description of the Homebuyer Service. I trust that this helps.

David Price

Ray Doyle

10:26 AM, 25th March 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "20/03/2017 - 10:12":

Hi,
I have to deal with situations like this all the time as I run my own Asbestos company.
And the answer is yes it should have been spotted, I cannot see the picture but if it is in the garage ceiling or walls it is a standard area of concern and you should have had a comment from the surveyor telling you to have a asbestos survey or a sample taken of the area. It is a legal requirement that anyone who may come across Asbestos as part of there work must have Uptodate Asbestos awareness training.UKATA complete this training annually and are one of the leading providers of asbestos training.
I would suggest you contact the company involved and tell them you are unhappy with the fact this was missed and request a copy of the surveyors last asbestos awareness training certificate.
You may be surprised to know how little Surveyors no about Asbestos and how few have upto date training.

Ray Doyle

11:05 AM, 25th March 2017
About 2 years ago

The survey report is meant to detect a list of defects that may effect the value of the property they should and most do point out the need for a Asbestos survey in the same way they would point out the need for electrics inspection or wall ties.
As I say the Asbestos awareness training would supply them with this basic knowledge if taken with a suitable qualified contractor.
I have had clients claim on occasions for having asbestos artex and
Asbestos insulation board in garages missed. You are not paying for a asbestos surveyor you are paying for the advice of a surveyor to point out areas where you need further expertise.

David Price

12:01 PM, 25th March 2017
About 2 years ago

I am sorry but allegations of professional negligence are being made against the surveyor concerned without establishing the full facts of the case. All we know is that asbestos was found in the garage. The focus of the RICS HomeBuyer Service is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of the property. The inspection is not exhaustive and no tests are undertaken. There is therefore a risk that certain defects may not be found that would have been uncovered if testing and/or a more substantial inspection had been undertaken. I am sure it is agreed that wild speculation does not help to sort out disputes.. The best advice to be given to Chris’s friends is to talk to the surveyor. He will have a complaint handling procedure in place and I am sure that the matter will be sorted out amicably on a professional basis.

David Price

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