Asbestos Survey FAQs

Many buildings in the UK built prior to 2000 still contain asbestos-based materials. Since it’s not always possible to tell by looking (with asbestos resembling sheet concrete to the untrained eye), the only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is through a survey.

These are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive about the process:

What is an asbestos survey?

An asbestos survey is a detailed assessment of a building, property, or other structure designed to identify the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM). It involves examining the condition of the materials for signs of damage and deterioration, as well as taking samples of the material to determine what type of asbestos (if any) is present.

What are the different types of asbestos surveys?

There are four main varieties of asbestos surveys: management surveys, pre-refurbishment surveys, pre-demolition surveys, and re-inspection surveys. This is what each of them means:

  • Management survey: this type of survey establishes whether or not a building contains asbestos as well as the general condition of any ACMs that might be present. The survey can be used as the basis of an effective asbestos management plan.
  • Pre-refurbishment survey: this is conducted when a client is planning to refurbish a property known to have asbestos on the premises. Its purpose is to assess the potential risk involved in such a project.
  • Pre-demolition survey: in the same vein as a pre-refurbishment survey, this type of survey is conducted prior to demolishing a property suspected to contain ACMs. It is more intrusive than a management survey, being designed to identify all instances of asbestos in the building.
  • Re-inspection survey: if a property contains asbestos but it has been determined to be safe, it requires regular re-inspection surveys to keep an eye on the condition of any ACMs. This is to make sure the materials have not deteriorated or become damaged since the last inspection. This is often quicker than the management survey, as the asbestos surveyor already knows where all the ACMs are located.

Why is an asbestos survey important?

Asbestos was widely used in construction well into the 1970s, where it was slowly phased out prior to a complete ban in 2000. While it was being used as a standard building material, few contractors would have kept a detailed list of the properties for which it was used. This means any domestic, commercial, or public sector building built prior to 2000 could potentially contain ACMs.

An asbestos survey lets you know whether or not you have ACMs in your property and, if you do, can recommend the best way to manage the material for your own safety and peace of mind. It can help determine the level of risk and what steps can be taken to remove the affected material. What’s more, it’s the only effective way to identify asbestos, since most ACMs look like concrete, cement, plaster, or drywall.

What happens during an asbestos survey?

An experienced and qualified asbestos surveyor will be appointed to conduct the survey. The initial inspection will involve a walk-through of the premises as the surveyor performs an on-site risk assessment.

The next stage involves looking for suspect ACMs in a methodical and meticulous manner, inspecting every part of the building, and making sure that no area is overlooked. As the survey proceeds, the surveyor will highlight suspect areas on a plan or map of the building while also taking photographs of affected areas. Material samples are collected from suspect areas to be analysed off-site at an accredited laboratory.

What do asbestos surveyors check, and how?

Asbestos surveyors are looking for evidence of ACMs in the building, specifically noting the location and amount of materials as well as the condition they are in. Should the ACM appear damaged or deteriorated, this is of particular concern and will be recorded as such in their report, along with appropriate photographic evidence.

How much does an asbestos survey cost?

The cost of an asbestos survey is typically determined by the length of time it takes to conduct the survey, and this itself depends on several factors. These include the size of the property, the number of rooms in the property, the age and condition of the property, and how easy it is to access the survey area. Furthermore, if the survey is being conducted on commercial premises, the surveyor will need all staff to vacate the area being surveyed. If this is not possible during regular working hours, the survey may need to be booked outside office hours, which could incur additional costs.

How long does an asbestos survey take?

As with the cost of an asbestos survey, the time taken to complete one depends on several factors. These include…


  • type of survey: refurbishment and demolition surveys tend to be more intrusive than asbestos management surveys, and so take longer to complete.
  • size of the property: this is fairly straightforward—the larger the property, the more area to be inspected, and the longer it will take.
  • number of rooms in the property: all interior walls and ceilings need to be checked during an asbestos survey. If a property has more rooms, it will have more walls and take more time to inspect.
  • age and condition of the building: older properties are not just more likely to have used asbestos in their construction; there is also a greater risk that the material has deteriorated and is in danger of releasing asbestos fibres into the air.
  • access to the building: some properties are less accessible than others. If the survey requires additional tools to inspect the affected areas (such as cherry pickers, extendable ladders, or scaffolding), this will increase the amount of time it takes to complete the survey.

Who can carry out asbestos surveys?

All asbestos surveys must be carried out by a suitably trained and qualified asbestos surveyor. This ensures they have the skills and experience to conduct a safe and accurate survey and produce a detailed report on the property.

Asbestos survey FAQs: final thoughts

From our Basildon office, we supply fully-trained and qualified asbestos surveyors to sites across the UK. Whatever type of asbestos survey you require for your property, we can provide a fast and effective solution. Contact Abastra Environmental Ltd today on 01268 411 355 for more information.

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