Keeping NBC tenants safe from asbestos – A Case Study

Discover below how we ensured Northampton Borough Council tenants were safe from disturbing asbestos.

Case Study - Northampton Borough Council

After successfully being awarded a three year contract with Northampton Borough Council, we were tasked to undertake between 250 and 300 individual Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys for the council each month. The properties to be surveyed range from small one bedroom flats to large houses of up to six bedrooms, of various ages and types of construction.

The Council requires these surveys for its Decent Homes programme, which it will use to improve the accommodation standards of council-owned properties throughout Northampton. Before any ‘intrusive works’ can be carried out on a property constructed before the year 2000, the law requires such a survey to determine if asbestos is present.

If asbestos was found which required licensed contractor removal, we undertook a 4-stage clearance (Certificate for Reoccupation), air monitoring, and provided consultancy services. These services were also provided in fast response to an asbestos breach or other incidents requiring expert management.


Our asbestos surveys

When asbestos surveys are completed in occupied or tenanted properties, they were tailored to match the scope to the proposed works in individual properties. Work typically included new kitchens, bathrooms, central heating and electrical rewiring. 80% of the surveys were required for occupied homes in the Decent Homes programme, with a target response turnaround time of 10 days.

When Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys were completed on void properties (those that were unoccupied and tenantless), the scope was increased to a full access refurbishment survey appropriate to a complete property refurbishment. 15% of the surveys completed were for these void properties with a target response turnaround time of 72 hours.

In addition, surveys were sometimes required for properties where the heating and/or hot water systems had failed and emergency work was required to repair or replace those systems. Such surveys were specific in scope to the heating work required. The remaining 5% of the surveys completed were for emergency heating work, requiring response turnaround within 24 hours.

Asbestos consultancy throughout

Acorn Analytical Services managed the entire process, from receiving an address from the Council to delivering the completed asbestos survey report.

We liaised with the council daily, both verbally and with written reports. We developed a protocol for the delivery of key performance indicators (KPIs) to the Council, the first such system the Northampton Borough Council had used for this kind of contract. This in turn reduced the Council’s turn-around time for reports.

A dedicated client liaison administrator contacted tenants to schedule the surveys, a process involving up to 6 phone calls (including 2 out of normal working hours) and sending up to 4 letters. The appointments are confirmed in writing or via SMS text message.

As part of this project, we opened a local office in Northampton, employing local people and drawing on their area knowledge heavily.


Asbestos surveys delivered on time

Acorn Analytical Services hit every target set by the Northampton Borough Council, allowing them to hit their internal targets for the project, and those set by the national government.

Despite substantial difficulties with tenants not being present at the property for scheduled survey appointments, all surveys have so far been completed in the time frame specified. In response to this difficulty, we instituted a SMS text message appointment reminder system, which has better than halved the incidence of missed appointments.


Since working with Acorn they have exceeded the council’s expectations with their high standards and innovative working methods.
Case Study - Northampton Borough Council
– Fiona Price (Asbestos Officer)