Would you buy a house with asbestos and lead piping?!

(55 Posts)
aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 09:13:56

Just got the survey back (finally, but that's a different story!)

The surveyor had led me to believe there were no major problems. There does seem to be a long list of things which require action however.

It says this about asbestos:

"The property is thought likely to contain several asbestos containing materials used in it’s construction, including the external chimney flue terminal, panel boarding to the conservatory, textured ceiling coatings and others.
There is no way to know from visual inspection alone whether certain materials in this property do or do not contain potentially hazardous asbestos fibres.

However, so long as the suspected materials remain undisturbed and encapsulated by painting over or similar there is minimal risk to health. Asbestos is only harmful when fibres become airborne and there is the risk of inhalation which may then cause asbestosis and related respiratory problems. You should therefore ensure that any workers at the property are aware of the risks associated with disturbing suspected asbestos materials either by drilling, sanding, cutting, breaking or removing etc. and are adequately protected with appropriate respiratory masks during the works.

Controlled sampling and laboratory testing is the only way to determine whether certain materials such as the conservatory panels and textured ceiling coatings in the property pose a risk to health and it is therefore strongly recommended that you arrange for sampling in various locations and lab testing using polarised light microscopy by accredited specialists prior to any potentially disruptive work being carried out that disturbs these materials. Although a serious matter it is a relatively easy and inexpensive process and is the only way to correctly identify whether there is a risk or not. Further professional advice may be sought once the lab test results are known. Alternatively you may of course simply assume that the materials do contain asbestos from the start and treat them accordingly."

aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 09:15:29

It says this about lead:

"The incoming water service is, in so far as we could establish during our inspection, located within a cupboard beside the kitchen sink, where there is a defective shut off valve. It is not known what material or in what size the incoming service is, but it looks like lead tubing which is obscured behind the kitchen cupboard. We recommend enquiries be made with the vendor and the water supply company to ascertain what is known of the age and type of mains supply pipe.

If it turns out to be lead, replacement is strongly advised and until it is replaced it is advisable to run the taps for a short time in the morning before filling kettles etc. to reduce exposure to and consumption of water in contact with lead. *This applies particularly where children live in the property.*"

tilder Wed 21-Nov-12 09:19:56

Depends on the price of the house. We were advised of possible asbestos and had samples taken, didn't cost a huge amount from memory. We then got quotes for removal and knocked that off the offer we made.

It is all fixable but depends on whether the house is worth it to you. Would you be able to move in as it is or would you need to rent or have a caravan while the work is done?

iseenodust Wed 21-Nov-12 09:24:42

No I wouldn't with asbestos. It can be very expensive to remove, sounds like it's in a few different parts of the house and you will owrry every time you want to put up shelves. Our current house had lead pipes and we replaced them fairly easily but it is probable the pipes bringing water to our boundary are lead. As this is very hard water area decided could live with that.

mummytime Wed 21-Nov-12 09:29:17

The Asbestos bit is a coverall, as lots of materials did contain Asbestos prior to about 1980s. You could get the chimney flue looked at, the rest is probably a standard bit of cut and pace for all property over about 10-20 years old. Almost all Artex ceilings for example contain Asbestos, this is fine as long as you don't sand them down. Even a smooth ceiling might have been Artex with a skim of plaster on top, so this phrase will appear in most reports. Another source of Asbestos is some concrete tiles or concrete 'board', this is fine unless you drill into it or otherwise break it.

The lead pipe is more of an issue, and I would talk to the water board and a plumber about the cost of replacing it.

Get some quotes for what work you feel would be necessary and see if you can argue the price down to cover/more than cover it.

stella1w Wed 21-Nov-12 09:30:27

No to asbestos. Who wd buy the house later on?

musicalendorphins Wed 21-Nov-12 09:32:27


aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 09:32:31

We're in a tricky situation as the surveyor basically buggered off after taking our money (I suspect he's having a personal crisis of some sort).

This survey was meant to arrive on October 2nd but only just came today (after threatening legal action!) Our vendors have been waiting all this time. The surveyor led us to believe no significant problems, and so the vendors are expecting us to sign right now I think.

This makes me nervous about haggling. I worry we may well lose it.

aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 09:34:55

We would have to remove it I think.

We're in such a bad position, suddenly. We let our sale go through just last week, under the impression there was nothing major int he report.

If I'd seen this report even a week ago, I might have let the sale go (the flat was really easy to sell) and rent for another year before trying to buy again. There's nothing else on the market I want, unless we move towns.

I'm so pissed off with the surveyor.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 09:36:07

You can get an asbestos company in to take samples and they should be back to you within a week with a positive/negative and cost of removal if present. It can cost £1,000's to remove safely so you need to know where you stand on this before you sign anything unless you're sure you have the money for expensive removal. You don't want to be worrying about asbestos any time you do DIY.

aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 09:36:31

We're renting atm, so no worries about somewhere to actually live btw!

laptopcomputer Wed 21-Nov-12 09:36:35

I would be more inclined to get quotes for lead piping and negotiate based on that. Nearly every house built prior to mid 20 th C has asbestos. That's a standard paragraph.

lalalonglegs Wed 21-Nov-12 09:37:33

Yes, if the price was right. It's reasonably easy to remedy the pipes and the asbestos if you are going to be doing works anyway (and, from the sound of it, this house hasn't had a major refurb in a while). If you like the place just the way it is then it is going to be messy removing and replacing.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 09:38:29

Phone your council now and get a recommendation for an asbestos company in your area to make sure it's done properly. You should be able to get someone in ASAP for about £250 roughly with VAT and that will include taking and number of samples too. The samples get sent off to a lab and then they can let you know with a phone all followed by a proper report.

wonkylegs Wed 21-Nov-12 09:39:31

As someone else says any property built prior to the 80's has the possibility of asbestos. It was very common and most people don't even realise that it was in anything from kitchen floor tiles to ceilings and wall panels.
Asbestos was used in all sorts of materials prior to then, it is not always expensive to remove (depends on type) and you can quite happily and safely coexist if undisturbed. Also often building professionals are ultra careful and highlight any possibility of asbestos as we are required to - this doesn't means it's necessarily there just that it possibly is and care should be taken - especially highlighted at the moment as the HSE is running an asbestos aware course at the moment.
I would get a quote to see how expensive it would be to test and ultimately remove from these areas as necessary and use this to negotiate.
Lead piping - again warrants a bit of further investigation & a quote for replacement.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 09:40:23

The OP needs to make sure they have enough money for asbestos removal as its an expensive business to do properly and safely. If it needs to be done in several rooms too, it gets more costly as each room has to be closed off while its being done.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 09:44:07

OP would need Asbestos refurbishment/demolition survey report done. They go over the whole house and take 5 samples or so (more if needed) and then the OP can have peace of mind. There are different levels of asbestos, some of it can be nasty stuff. I imagine it would be about £250 for asbestos refurbishment/demolition report approx with about 5 samples. Extra samples on top will cost more per sample. Between £20 and £25.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Wed 21-Nov-12 09:50:08

On the asbestos: it's a cover-all. Many of the people saying "No, I wouldn't" are probably sitting in a house which has some, unless it's brand new.

However, there are some materials containing asbestos that are very obvious and potentially disruptive to works (someone else mentioned artex) and you probably need to follow up with the surveyor to find out if they specifically spotted any - though it doesn't sound like it. If they can't cite anything in particular, then it's hard to know what to have tested. Maybe worth asking asbestos removal companies if they have a battery of standard tests they do on likely places/materials?

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 10:03:14

mulled I don't agree it's a cover-all. If they see something and they suspect it, they will write it in their report.

The 'standard battery of tests' with taking sample across a whole house is called an Asbestos Refurbishment/Demolition Survey report. This will let the OP know exactly where they stand, especially if they will be doing work on the property.

If the OP wants someone to come in from an asbestos company to simply see if they too suspect it, that will cost less, probably around £50 to call someone out.

aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 10:05:59

The lead piping freaks me out less than the asbestos, as I know where it is and we can simply get it replaced.

The asbestos freaks me out. My impulse is to remove it, but that's risky to do.

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 10:25:52

I would have it removed, I wouldn't want to live in a property knowing there is asbestos present. After its been removed, you can have air quality tests done, but apparently it isn't needed if it is some of the low percentage asbestos containing material if that makes sense. An asbestos removal company would be able to advise you.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Wed 21-Nov-12 10:26:45

Sorry, by saying "it's a cover-all" I didn't mean to imply you should assume there probably isn't any; just the opposite. I would always assume an older house had non-compliant older materials in it, whether or not the survey said so. I'm just saying that if they had noticed a particular area of concern they would probably have specified it (as they did with the lead pipe), so any tests you do will need to be general ones.

Moredofbumsnet Wed 21-Nov-12 13:16:40

We had artex ceilings plastered over in our house for about £200 max per room. We had asbestos board removed in another property we owned and it cost about £500 for a piece the height and depth of a kitchen work surface. We didn't get either tested as the artex was ugly and the asbestos board was really obviously asbestos. You can get a free quote for removal without paying to get it tested and a quote for plastering the ceilings. Removing artex ceilings rather than just plastering over is really costly.

hanahsaunt Wed 21-Nov-12 13:37:44

How old is the property? We had a house surveyed and it came back with a note of the asbestos lagging the central heating system (which was ancient and needed replaced) and lead piping. Advised that the property would be uninhabitable whilst the asbestos works were being carried out and that we would be looking in the region of £50k just for that before we even started on the lead (and the subsiding sewage pipes in the garden and the rotten roof and, and, and ...). House was valued at £0 - land deemed worthless given level of potential contamination (and the dead bodies in the garden which would need relocated). We pulled out ...

poppyboo Wed 21-Nov-12 14:09:23

Dead bodies?! shock

marshmallowpies Wed 21-Nov-12 14:20:39

Snap - the house I'm buying has come back with the same 2 issues. My initial reaction was 'ok, not that surprising with a house of this age' and assume we'd proceed as planned - now wondering if we should get quotes for removal first.

At the very least it's made me realise we mustn't do any DIY before the asbestos is sorted. I wouldn't be overly worried about asbestos that is contained - it's just an issue of not disturbing it until you can get it professionally dealt with.

My current house is from the 1900s and no asbestos was mentioned on my survey - not surprising given the age - but neither was lead piping - presumably a Victorian era house would have lead piping?

Pendeen Wed 21-Nov-12 17:12:06

The second paragraph should be enough.

Millions of houses contain asbestos (to a greater or lesser extent). To remove all asbestos would be economic and environmental madness not least because of where would it all go (including all the contaminated equipment, clothing etc. that would be needed to remove it)?

As far as lead pipes - again very common in older properties and - check with the local water company by all means but - not a problem in most cases.

This leaflet gives useful basic advice and reassurance.

aufaniae Wed 21-Nov-12 23:53:46

Well we found a local asbestos testing company who seem to have a good rep. Will be booking a survey with them tomorrow.

TheoriginalMrsDarcy Thu 22-Nov-12 00:31:46

Hi, we recently had a survey done on a property and pulled out because our survey returned back advising potential asbestos. We insisted and requested a reputable company do an asbestos check on the house and also insisted the cost be bourne by the sellers. It was in the region of £100 for the test. Apparently the company drilled small holes in various parts of the house and took samples. Anyway, it transpired asbestos was located everywhere, throughout the house (ceilings only). A quote by a reputable accreddited company was obtained for its removal, replastering and professional disposal plus a further test once the work was carried out. The quotation cost came to around £7000. The sellers refused to re-negotiate and so we pulled out.

Asides from that, my DH has worked with people who has had Methsothilioma and in his opinion, if only one particle was to get into your lungs, there's a chance you could get cancer. Yes, it might not be immediately, maybe some 20-30 years later but would you take the risk? And if you have children, would you risk their health?

Also, what if it gets onto your carpets? Would you change them? New carpets is an added cost for you. I'd ask for a reduction in price to reflect the cost to be done,(obtain at least three quotes) plus an extra % for any unexpected works to be done.

fussychica Thu 22-Nov-12 15:12:44

If you've got artex you've almost certainly got asbestos. Even if you have smooth ceilings the last owner may have already plastered over it and you or your surveyor wouldn't know it was there. Same goes for Marley tiled flooring which maybe under any current flooring.

Pendeen Fri 23-Nov-12 17:29:50


The "one particle can kill" scare was discredited many years ago and, as I have said above, asbestos is still to befound in millions of buildings including houses, schools, hospitals, shops, pubs and so on. It will be there probably for as long as the building exists so it's rather unreasonable to expect to avoid all contact with buildings containing asbestos (not contact with asbestos - two different things entirely and should not happen at all).

Having said that if it's your home then of course you are entitled to not buy a house containing asbestos although I can quite understand the seller's refusal to drop the price by £7,000 for unnecessary work.

Properties built after 2000 are asbestos free.

aufaniae Fri 23-Nov-12 20:03:11

The thing is, this house appealed to us particularly for its potential to extend (replacing the conservatory, which may have asbestos), up into the roof (bringing down a ceiling, which may have asbestos) and knocking two small rooms together (disturbing their ceilings, which is the last place the survey said might have asbestos!)

So it's not a case of just plastering over and making do. It's a very different house to us if we can't do work on it.

aufaniae Fri 23-Nov-12 20:04:16

"Even if you have smooth ceilings the last owner may have already plastered over it and you or your surveyor wouldn't know it was there."

That's quite scary. Something to consider if you're ever doing work with ceilings I guess.

tricot39 Fri 23-Nov-12 22:30:39

you should get the quotes for removal if you want to do work. See the hse for more info. Some of the boarding and insulation can be nasty. The flues etc less so but a future liability. At the moment you are not obliged to remove it but the law could change.
Lead pipes can be sorted in due course and mitigated by running the taps.
Good luck and sorry that the timing is terrible

aufaniae Fri 23-Nov-12 22:52:39

Thanks tricot. The timing is terrible actually. We need to be in a house by Jan 15th to put DS's school choices down. We started the process of putting our own place up for sale in January. I never thought we'd be worrying about missing the deadline!

It's nothing do do with selling either - our place was really easy to sell as it's in inner London. We were let down by the tenant - a supposed old "friend" of DP's who refused to move. And then the surveyor disappeared after taking our money without giving us a survey for 8 weeks. Between the two of them they've cost us nearly 4 months. I'm so angry

ExhaustTed Fri 23-Nov-12 23:10:51

We did buy a house with asbestos and lead pipes, but have removed both as part of a refurb before moving in. We lived for a short while thinking that our mains supply pipe was lead while we waited for the water company to do free deleading and I always drank and cooked with bottled water (when the water company removed the lead in the road it turned out to be not lead after all).
We were advised re lead that the amount of time the water sits in the pipe makes a difference, ie a single person using not much water would be at greater risk than a family constantly using the washing machine over and over and over again, as the water is being pulled through quickly and the pollutants don't have time to leach in, or something like that.

aufaniae Fri 23-Nov-12 23:28:54

ExhausTed, do you mind if I ask how much the asbestos removal cost you?

LoveGigi Sat 24-Nov-12 07:32:23

I'm no expert, but Thames Water told me that there are millions of miles of lead piping in our water system and mostly they are all furred up with lime scale therefore causing limited exposure to lead.

I would however change the pipe work internally to copper, but this shouldn't be too tricky, if the pipe is lead up to the kitchen sink then copper thereafter then it's only the run from the entry point to the home to the kitchen that will be replaced. Thames Water would charge in the region of £500-£600 to replace the street side connection, which, after my conversation with the lady at TW I didn't feel too worried about.

I would still buy that property based on what you've said. IMO, neither issue is a deal breaker, if you otherwise have your heart set on it.

However I wouldn't buy it if you are just settling for this property as there is nothing else available.

Are you able to get some quotes re the plumbing lined up for next week?

Pendeen Sat 24-Nov-12 17:55:11


Ah, if you are planning alterations then that's a different matter entirely and I can understand your reluctance to buy.

ExhaustTed Sat 24-Nov-12 22:17:04

the husband did the asbestos removal with the advice of others. Fully kitted out in breathing gear and disposable outfits etc. it was also before the council started charging for disposal too. Sorry, that's not much help but a disposal company should be able to give you a quote

ExhaustTed Sun 25-Nov-12 06:59:35

(Of course I wouldn't recommend diy asbestos removal unless you are totally equipped and skilled to do so)

sleeplessinsuburbia Sun 25-Nov-12 07:40:53

My DH works with it and wouldn't even consider a house with it unless it was cheap enough to compensate having it replaced. When we rented a house with asbestos he wouldn't even put a nail in the wall as he refused to ever expose our dcs to it. If you don't want to do any renos or it has no damage (at all) should be ok but it will come up again when you go to sell.
I know nothing about lead.

aufaniae Sun 25-Nov-12 09:27:57

sleepless we do want to renovate so I think the only way we can afford it is if the seller will renegotiate. And I have no idea if they will or not. It's pretty nerve-wracking!

If this house falls through, it means DS won't be able to go to the lovely school I want him to. sad The one where we live now is OK. And it's not worth risking our lives over of course! But the pressure is on!!

sleeplessinsuburbia Mon 26-Nov-12 06:46:39

Well as others have said, asbestos is probably in most houses. If it has no damage you can live in it safely before you renovate. Ring an asbestos removal company ASAP and ask for ball park figures to remove a wall/ ceiling etc. the replacement cost may not be the issue if you're renovating as you'd need new walls anyway. I wouldn't even get it tested, if it gets to that stage I'm sure the removers would be experienced enough to know if its asbestos or not.
An agent tried to tell my DH that an entirely asbestos house was plasterboard so there may be less than you think. Or more...

aufaniae Mon 26-Nov-12 08:09:20

Oh I need to know! I want to get rid of that ceiling for aesthetic reasons anyway! Whether it's asbestos or not makes a difference to how we treat it in the short term. But mmportantly level of asbestos in the house has will have a financial impact in the work we want to do. If we do need to try to renegotiate, I imagine it will help to have facts to back us up.

We've got the asbestos survey booked, should get the results in a couple of days,

aufaniae Mon 26-Nov-12 08:11:40

"An agent tried to tell my DH that an entirely asbestos house was plasterboard"

That's appalling shock he was literally putting your lives at risk to make himself a few quid comission. Supposing you'd believed him, bought the house and started putting up shelves all over the place?! That makes me angry on your behalf!

Did you complain about him?

sleeplessinsuburbia Mon 26-Nov-12 09:43:21

No my husband just repeated its asbestos and the guy twigged that my DH knew his shit so he just said , oh right but most houses have it. It was actually the house we were renting and he was putting it on the market and asked if we were interested. It sold for a lot too!

pootros Sun 16-Feb-14 02:27:43

Aufaniae- what came of your survey?
Did you buy? Am in same situation - about to find a hse quote. Gutted.... Thought we'd found the house...

MissMysticFalls Mon 16-Jun-14 07:18:59

Would love an update from OP and anyone else who was thinking of getting asbestos tests and quotes. Our survey just came back recommending an asbestos survey. I assumed this was something all houses built pre 2000 would need but have no idea about costs of ceiling removal/skimming - lots of artex on walls and ceilings.

We're also asking the vendor via solicitors if they had any asbestos testing done prior to their purchase in late 90s.

peggyundercrackers Mon 16-Jun-14 10:10:33

we bought a house with asbestos in it and wanted it removed. a company came and took a sample and told us what kind of asbestos it was - some asbestos is more dangerous than others. The type we had didnt need to be removed by a specialist company as it wasn't the dangerous type - they said if they removed we would be £180 but a joiner who was working at the house done it for us. the local council came and took it away for us for free - turns out they dump it and bury it underground.

we used a company called aspect for the testing and results came back the same day. man came and took a very small sample in the morning and called by 5pm at night to tell us what it was and we had a written report sent to us within 2 days.

peggyundercrackers Mon 16-Jun-14 10:11:07

just seen a question about the quote for testing, we were £85 + VAT for our test.

peggyundercrackers Mon 16-Jun-14 10:11:44

company who done it was www.aspectcontracts.co.uk/

p.s. sorry for all the small updates.

Trazzletoes Mon 16-Jun-14 10:14:40

We bought our house with artex on various ceilings and also possible asbestos in the chimney . The chimney is bricked up so that doesn't bother us. I've spoken to numerous people and companies about the artex on the ceilings. No one is even slightly bothered about it. We are thinking of having it skimmed but other than the fact that it's hideous, it's not a big deal for us at all.

lljkk Mon 16-Jun-14 10:34:06

Lead pipes are usually only a risk if you live in a soft water area. Calcium in the water in hard water areas prevents lead from leaching into the water. I would happily live, at least for a spell, with lead pipes in a hard water area.

Asbestos I think you need more info about this specific house.

We had lead pipes & lead gloss paint & asbestos to deal with in previous house (well, garage for the asbestos) & all were manageable. Good luck with your decisions.

MissMysticFalls Mon 16-Jun-14 10:41:00

Thanks everyone for your information, that's so helpful. We're probably going to get the tests done before we complete so we can get any work needed/wanted done before we move in (we rent so can stay here until the place is ready).

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