Asbestos is a carcinogen that was used extensively in building materials prior to the 1970s. It’s commonly found as duct and pipe insulation, vermiculite attic insulation, ceiling and wall acoustical tiles, cement asbestos siding, and floor tiles (and floor tile adhesives).
Don’t let that frighten you, though. If the asbestos-containing materials in your home are undamaged, leave them alone. It’s more dangerous to disturb them, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In most states, you must disclose the presence of asbestos to buyers of your home.
However, if you plan to do remodeling that will disrupt the materials, removing them is the best option.
Asbestos Removal Basics
It’s a two-step process. First, have the material tested to make sure it contains asbestos. Then, have it professionally removed. Here’s what you need to know:
- Contact your regional asbestos program as well as your state asbestos administrative department or your Occupational Safety and Health Administration regional office to find out about local requirements and regulations.
- Seek out accredited asbestos inspectors and contractors who are licensed and trained in safe asbestos testing and removal.
- To avoid conflict of interest, have suspect materials tested by one company and abatement or removal done by another company.
- Be prepared--in some cases, you and your family may have to temporarily relocate while the work is being completed.
Hiring a Corrective-Action Contractor
It’s okay to hire roofing, flooring, and siding contractors who may be exempt from state asbestos removal licensing requirements, as long as they’re trained in asbestos removal. The EPA offers suggestions on what to do if you hire a corrective-action contractor.
Before work begins, you’ll want a written contract that clearly states all federal, state, and local regulations that the contractor must follow, such as cleanup of your premises and disposal of the materials.
When the job ends, get written proof from the contractor that all procedures were followed correctly. Have a follow-up check from a licensed asbestos inspector.
Asbestos Removal Costs
An initial asbestos inspection costs $400 to $800. A follow-up inspection when the project ends adds $200 to $400. For lab work, a sample analysis averages $25 to $75.
Asbestos removal costs vary depending on the extent of the work to be done. Many contractors have a minimum fee of $1,500 to $3,000, no matter how small the job is.
Complete removal in a 1,500-square-foot home with asbestos everywhere—walls, floors, ceilings, attic, roof, pipes—could be as high as $20,000 to $30,000.