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Buying a House With Asbestos Artex

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by

7th Dec 2021 (Last updated on 14th Dec 2021) 5 minute read

If you’re buying a house that has asbestos, you should proceed with caution and ensure the right steps are carried out to officially detect it. Your mortgage lender may even suggest carrying out a specialist survey to uncover which materials contain the mineral.

Asbestos is most commonly found in properties built before 1999 - it can be detected in textured wall coatings, heating appliances, insulation board tiles and more. Whilst you may require a specialist survey to understand how to remedy the issue, a homebuyers survey (RICS Home Survey Level 2) should highlight any signs of asbestos in the home and advise you on the next steps you need to know before finalising the sale.

Our team at Compare My Move work alongside a number of professional property and finance experts to create insightful guides that will help you through the buying and selling process. In this article, we explore the process of testing Artex and the complications that can come with buying a house with asbestos.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is Asbestos?
  2. Does Artex Contain Asbestos?
  3. Testing Artex For Asbestos
  4. What To Do If Asbestos is Found in the Property
  5. Selling a House With Asbestos
  6. Learn More About Surveying

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous and naturally occurring mineral that has been previously added to a variety of building materials. Whilst the mineral is no longer used, it can still be found in residential properties mixed with other materials such as corrugated roofing and textured wall coatings like Artex.

Asbestos was originally used in construction as it is highly resistant to fire, heat, chemicals and electrical damage. It was also an affordable option at the time. However, it was soon discovered that asbestos fibres are also lethal when inhaled, resulting in serious health conditions such as lung cancer. Mesothelioma is actually a specific type of cancer that is caused by inhaling these specific fibres.

Despite the use of blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos being prohibited in the UK in 1985, the use of white asbestos (chrysotile) was only banned in UK construction in 1999. This means that whilst there will be no detection of the substance in modern properties, homes built before 2000 may have a slight chance of still containing asbestos.

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Does Artex Contain Asbestos?

Artex is one of the terms used for a textured coating application that is typically applied to walls and ceilings in properties. It has a stippled, swirled or geometric pattern and was typically applied by decorators and plasterers. It was particularly popular in the UK during the 1980s.

Between the 1950s and 80s, Artex often contained asbestos. Artex was most commonly mixed with white asbestos (chrysotile) to help thicken the product. Whilst the amount present was fairly low, it is still considered a health hazard, especially when broken or sanded down.

When Did Asbestos Stop Being Used in Artex?

Artex was mixed with white asbestos in the UK until 1984. The mineral was then fully banned in the UK in August 1999.

If your property was built after 2000 it will likely not contain asbestos. However, homes built prior to this date should be tested. Whilst the product is considered low risk in general, it can be extremely hazardous if broken down and inhaled. Sanding or drilling materials containing asbestos can release fibres and cause serious health risks.

Testing Artex For Asbestos

If you suspect the Artex (or any other type of material) in your property contains asbestos, do not attempt to test or handle it yourself. Any work on the material must be carried out by an experienced, licensed and appropriately tried contractor.

You can have the material officially sampled and tested to identify the presence of asbestos. However, this should only be completed by a qualified specialist surveyor. If not conducted properly, you have a higher risk of being provided with false results from the lab when sampling.

Whilst Artex typically contains low concentrations of asbestos, it can still be harmful to your health when damaged or disturbed. Whilst your homebuyers report (Home Survey Level 2) or building survey (Home Survey Level 3) can highlight the presence of asbestos, you will require a highly-trained asbestos surveyor to confirm your suspicions and treat the problem.

Depending on how extensive the search is, sampling and testing for asbestos can cost anywhere between £100-1000 in the UK.

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What To Do If Asbestos is Found in the Property

If your home survey uncovers the presence of asbestos, your first course of action should be to contact an expert for further help. If the material has been undisturbed it won’t pose an immediate threat to your health, but your chosen expert should be able to evaluate the risk further. They should also be able to calculate the potential costs of removing the materials.

Whilst home surveys can highlight the presence of hazardous materials, property surveyors are not fully-trained asbestos surveyors. A specialist survey will go into further detail about the materials in question and assess the potential risks of the level of asbestos uncovered.

Whilst it is possible to remove some asbestos-containing materials yourself at home, it is not advised and you would still be recommended to hire a trained, accredited and licenced operator. A specialist will have a much safer method of removing and disposing of the hazardous materials, however, it can be an expensive procedure. Costs will vary but, on average, you can expect to pay at least £1,500 (plus VAT) to remove up to 20 sqm of Artex.

Selling a House With Asbestos

Legally, there is nothing stopping homeowners from selling a house with asbestos. However, there will be a number of additional factors to consider.

The current condition of the asbestos found will likely be the main variable that impacts the buyer’s decision to continue with the sale. It’s also important to note that the presence of asbestos may impact the property’s value, thus lowering the asking price.

Do You Have to Declare Asbestos When Selling a House in the UK?

As of 2013 and the update of the Property Misdescriptions Act, sellers are legally obligated to disclose whether there is asbestos in the property. It is not illegal to sell a house with asbestos, but the seller must disclose this information during the sale.

If you fail to abide by this law, you could risk invalidating the transaction and potentially be prosecuted. If the seller is unaware of asbestos being in the home, then there will likely be no repercussions.

Learn More About Surveying

This has been part of our surveying guide. In our next article, we take a look at woodworm when buying a house. To learn more, read woodworm found in house survey.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.