When buying a property, it is expected that purchasers will have structural surveys, searches and look at any flood risks.
Buyers will also sometimes have land confirmations and examine land uses and the history of the land, but all too often one of the things that is most commonly overlooked is the presence of asbestos.
Thinking about asbestos prior to a property purchase is essential for two reasons…
Firstly, if you don’t take asbestos into consideration, you are taking a big risk that you may then need to put right. If you buy a property and have a refurbishment survey done which reveals you need to carry out asbestos works, this can be a big problem and by that stage it is now your problem! You may even have to carry out the work – and spend lots of money as a result – before you can even occupy the building.
Secondly, if you find out about the presence of asbestos in a property before you buy it, you may be able to use this knowledge to get some money off the purchase price.
What should you do first?
Before you buy a property make sure you gather as much information as you can and track down any documentation for the property.
Do a desk top study. Is there any information online about the building or its past use? Are there any plans or architectural information relating to the building and any work that has been done on it over the years?
If the seller doesn’t have the information, have an asbestos survey done prior to purchase that will identify what is in the building. Spending a few hundred pounds on an asbestos survey could ultimately save you thousands and give you peace of mind. You needn’t necessarily have to have a full asbestos survey, but if you’re buying a larger property, such as a hotel, you may wish to hire a decent asbestos consultant to do a Due Diligence Survey. This will involve them walking around and making notes and possibly taking some samples. This can show you there may be asbestos and it could potentially be here, here and here etc and what can be done to reduce the risks or remove the material.
If there is asbestos and you haven’t purchased the property yet, you can explain what has been found and the cost estimates and ask the vendor to look again at the price.
Keep in mind – the bigger the property, the bigger the risk of asbestos and the older the building, the greater the risk of asbestos. The costs can increase and the risks can increase and that is a very good reason why you should ask for information before purchasing the property.
Where can you get help?
Remember – start with due diligence, find out information and if it is not forthcoming, get a survey and bring that back to the table to see if you can save money. Depending on what you want to do or what your scheme is, it can help make your decision.