The construction industry has witnessed numerous innovations and materials over the years. Two such materials, Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos, have been in recent headline news due to their implications on health and safety, especially in educational institutions.

What Type of Asbestos Survey Do I need?


A common question we get asked is, “Could we drop off a sample to you?” This blog will explain the circumstances in which the sampling and surveying of asbestos would be required, along with the different types of asbestos surveys we offer.

First of all, we do not recommend that anybody take asbestos samples without being fully trained, experienced and competent in doing so. Asbestos can cause severe illnesses and should be treated as a hazardous substance which causes cancer.

In addition to the dangers posed by sampling and disturbing an asbestos product, the material should only be transported in specialist containers which must be clearly marked and defined as potential asbestos.  Your insurance company should be notified that the vehicle will be carrying hazardous materials and you will need to apply for a upper tier hazardous waste licence from the environment agency. If you are found to be carrying hazardous materials without noting the above, it is likely to result in prosecution. 

Why is it usually insufficient to sample asbestos?

Essentially, it all comes down to exactly why you need the material testing. For example, if you’re conducting some refurbishment works, you will likely need an intrusive survey commonly known as a Refurbishment and Demolition survey or R&D. Now, the title of this survey can be slightly misleading as there is a district difference between the type of inspection needed for refurbishment schemes and for demolition schemes.  On that basis, we offer them as separate inspections ie Refurbishment Surveys and Demolition Surveys as the latter is more intrusive and fully destructive.

We do often receive requests from people who may be about to bring down a wall or ceiling that potentially contains asbestos cement, but the appropriate course of action here is to stop and get the correct survey done first. This will include taking samples and having them processed with a UKAS-accredited laboratory before any work takes place.

The truth is that sampling alone will not always be sufficient or legally compliant. However, this isn’t always the case, and there is the odd occasion where this will be sufficient. For example if you do wish to opt for a sample exercise rather than a survey, it is important to remember that the technician is only present to test the material which you are concerned about. They will not be looking for additional materials within the building, they will not ‘have a quick look while they are there’ and they will not be providing advice on other aspects of the building safety.

The few cases in which samples are sufficient to be legally compliant are:

  • If a thorough survey has already been conducted and something has since been discovered that was inaccessible before, such as a new hole that has been dug that has uncovered some material.
  • Within non-regulated buildings such as private homes. Often, this is just for peace of mind and not due to legalities. Perhaps a home buyer is concerned about the safety of textured coatings, corrugated garage roofs, etc.

For Commercial Asbestos Sample Testing Click Here.

When will I require a Demolition and Refurbishment Survey?

You need this type of survey whenever the scheme of improvement work is likely to disturb the fabric of a building in buildings built prior to the year 2000.  This can include anything from requiring a rewire, right through to total refurbishment.

To remain compliant with your refurbishment works, there is no such tick-off list available. Moreover, the survey needs to be tailored to the planned work that you have specified. Finally, for total transparency, these surveys can be intrusive as the primary goal is to locate and document any asbestos-containing materials in the area which may be hidden and disturbed as part of the building work.

Demolition surveys are considerably more intrusive; the spaces that have been surveyed will likely be inaccessible before demolition due to the level damage and  intrusive work required in order to identify any hidden asbestos-containing materials.

For asbestos demolition surveys Click Here.

When would a management survey be required?

An asbestos management survey is required on all non-domestic buildings built before the year 2000. It is the building blocks to form an asbestos management plan (AMP) as required under regulation 4: the duty to manage. (control of asbestos regulations).

If no asbestos-containing materials are found, this survey report will need to be kept safe to prove this should the health & safety executive wish to check. However, if asbestos-containing materials are found, then an asbestos management plan will be required to outline how the asbestos is to be managed for the safety of everyone in the building.

The management survey will highlight any asbestos containing materials which are likely to be disturbed during normal occupation or day to day activiates within the building.  The report which follows will contain photographs of both positive and negative ACM’s, floor plans showing sample locations, risk assessments of materials found, quantities of materials found and recommendations on how to deal with the materials found.  These types of surveys are non-intrusive and will document and identify the procedures for managing asbestos.

When do I need an asbestos management plan?

Once the asbestos survey confirms the presence of asbestos containing materials, there is a legal requirement on the duty holder to manage asbestos within the premises.  This is where an asbestos management plan is created and will outline how the risk associated with associated with ACM’s are managed.  The plan will specify when surveys are to be conducted, what may trigger a survey and what the scope will be for them. It will also set standard operating procedures for managing known asbestos-containing spaces.

Remember, a survey, regardless of how often one is conducted, will not be enough for you to be legally compliant. In fact, UK discount store ‘Poundland’ found this out the hard way when they were fined over £550,000 for not fulfilling their duties required under asbestos management.

If you have a non-domestic building that was built prior to the year 2000, then you have a legal obligation to manage the asbestos risk that may lie within it. While there are fewer legalities to a home built before 2000, you should still ensure that your family and contractors are not being put at risk by asbestos within your home.

As always, the best way to get accurate information specific to you and your building is to seek help from true industry experts like Fibre Safe. You can contact us online or by calling us on 0800 458 4136. For Commercial Asbestos Management Surveys Click Here. For Domestic Asbestos Management Surveys Click Here.


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