If you are thinking about building, renovating or undertaking repairs to your home, you need to be aware of asbestos.
As a general rule, if your home was built:
- before the mid-1980s – it is highly likely that it has asbestos-containing products
- between the mid1980s and 1990 – it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products
- after 1990 – it is unlikely that it has asbestos-containing products.
If you know or suspect material in your home was installed before 1990, it is safest to assume it does contain asbestos. If you need to be certain, have it tested.
You can't tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. Only scientific testing of a sample can confirm this.
An asbestos sample must be tested by an asbestos laboratory approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
A competent person should collect the sample for you. People that can do this are professional occupational hygienists, licensed asbestos removalists or a NATA accredited asbestos laboratory.
Find and identify
It is important that you know where asbestos can be found in your home, particularly the different types of asbestos cement sheeting and friable asbestos products.
It is not always possible to find out whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it.
Another good practice is to bring in a professional. Householders are strongly advised to engage experienced and licensed professionals to undertake home renovations where asbestos is likely to be present and to undertake any necessary asbestos removal.
If you decide to undertake home renovations where asbestos is (or may be) present, here are some points to be aware of.
If you've identified asbestos in your home, inform any tradesperson who comes to do work on your house. Even if you only suspect it is present, you should let them know.
To make sure no asbestos fibres are being released into the air, keep asbestos containing materials in good condition and replace any damaged or friable asbestos with new materials that don't contain asbestos.
Plan ahead for any work you need to do and make sure you get the right advice. It is safest to engage a licensed asbestos removalist when undertaking major home renovations or demolitions where asbestos may be present.
Remove and dispose
As a householder, you may carry out minor repairs on asbestos cement materials, as long as the recommended safety precautions for these activities are followed. However, some jobs are best left to the experts. If you are considering a renovation that involves disturbing large amounts of asbestos cement materials, removing friable asbestos products, or demolition of all or part of your property, don’t do this work yourself. Engage a licensed asbestos removalist who knows how to manage this work safely, and without risk to you or your neighbours. If you do want to remove a small amount of asbestos yourself, follow the advice provided on our .
Reviewed 24 August 2021