Will my surveyor check for asbestos in the artex?
Mandy from Blackpool
Surveying Process questions and answers
I recently viewed a house that had Artex on a lot of the walls, the owner had lived there for 18 years and it was already there when he moved in. I know if Artex is over 20 years old there’s a possibility of asbestos, could you tell me when a search is done would this be automatically checked or would we have to pay for a separate asbestos survey for this to be checked? Many thanks, Mandy
Artex is a generic trade name (there are others which include: Wondertex, Suretex, Newtex, Pebblecoat and Marblecoat) and this in particular has over the years come to be used to describe all thick plaster-like paints that were used to create decorative mostly textured type effects and is commonly found on ceilings, although it is often present on walls too. Within the construction trades and often within survey reports these coatings are referred to as textured type coatings and the non-asbestos versions are still used in modern properties.
Up until 1984 the manufacturers (or even those installers using the material themselves) may have added small amounts (3-5%) of Chrysotile (‘white asbestos’) to the paints/coatings. The Asbestos fibres gave the material additional strength and consistency along with making it much easier to apply. It’s worth noting that there may well be instances, for example contractors using up old stocks or supplies, that some Asbestos may be present beyond 1985 say, even possibly into the early 1990’s (albeit the risk is less as time passed).
There are no overwhelming safety reasons to remove Artex because, if undamaged and/or undisturbed, the risk of Asbestos related diseases being contracted is low, however the risk increases should the material be worked, sanded, cut, damaged or is otherwise disturbed to release fibres and/or dust particles in to the air. As such if it is your intention to cause such disturbance, then it is best advice to instruct a Licensed Asbestos Contractor to undertake the works.
More information is available on the HPA website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos where you can find a wealth of further information.
So to the question, would a buyer have to commission a separate inspection and pay for that, the answer is yes. A Homebuyer Report and/or Building Survey Report is not a specialist Asbestos report. The Surveyor may well make comment, based upon their experience and/or general knowledge about the potential risk and/or likelihood of a particular item containing Asbestos, but as no testing is carried out to be certain whether a product contains Asbestos or not would likely require sampling and/or testing, which is carried out by specialist contractors and may involve lab testing of the particular product.
You can find information on Asbestos contractors by visiting the guidance section on our website at www.castle-surveyors.co.uk and clicking on the ARCA graphic or by visiting their website at http://www.arca.org.uk/
To find out more about asbestos in buildings, our article, 'Asbestos Surveys' includes a range of advice and information for if you are concerned about asbestos in the property you are buying.