Renovating bathrooms that have Asbestos

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Is asbestos used in bathrooms?

When we provide our bathroom renovation quotations for properties in Sydney we will inspect as much as we can on the site to assess what will be required. Of course one of the difficult things to be able to do is see inside the walls or ceiling sometimes. In a lot of cases it would mean cutting holes or getting access another way.

So we always warn home owners there could be underlying issues that can’t be seen and may require a variation to the scope of work. It is literally impossible to cover every possible detail when we can’t see every aspect that may effect a renovation project.

One example of this is for homes built before 1990 they have have used Asbestos which was used in a lot of construction projects before that time. It is more prevalent in buildings before the mid 1980’s because it was a material that was very strong, fire proof, it didn’t corrode and was great for insulating. 

When it comes to bathroom renovations Asbestos was used in fibro cement sheeting for walls, ceilings, floors and sometimes as wall insulation. Of course all of this is hidden behind the waterproofing layer and the tiling, so it isn’t discovered until a room is demolished.

There are various well-know products that were used during those times. One of the main ones was a wet-area fibrous asbestos cement sheet. This moulded product was used in place of ceramic tiles in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries. Most often these sheets were attached to walls and used as splash backs especially in shower recesses in bathrooms. You can sometimes see them because there is a stainless steel strip between the sheets or they have floral, geometric or speckled patterns or even  pastel shades of pink, blue, grey and green either matte or glossy. The other common product were wet-area sheeting products with recessed edges, which were plastered over and tiled.

Day to day if the Asbestos is kept as it is, it won’t pose a health risk to people living in the dwelling. Although if it is disturbed because of age, drilling, cutting or some other action that breaks the surfaces then it can lead to exposure and serious health issues. 

If you have an older property it is best to get it inspected before any renovation work begins. You can even check with the Government Departments on the of items that used to be sold which include;

  • Hardiflex 1981
  • Hardiplank 1981
  • Villaboard 1981
  • Versilux 1982
  • Harditherm 1984
  • Compressed 1984
  • Drain Pipe 1984
  • Super Six 1985
  • Highline 1985
  • Shadowline 1985
  • Coverline 1985
  • Roofing Accessories 1985
  • Pressure Pipe 1987
  • Tilux 1987
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Can the Asbestos be removed safely before renovating?

In Sydney there are strict rules about removing and disposing of asbestos. In the case that we discover there is this dangerous material on a site, we have to stop work immediately until it is deemed safe. This is such dangerous material that you have to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent inhalation of asbestos fibres and there are restrictions on how much asbestos can be removed in a certain timeframe from any one place to protect neighbouring homes and people from exposure.

There are also lots of rules that regulate how it can be removed and transported. If you’re a homeowner you are entitled to remove asbestos products yourself. Although there are limitations to this as in they must not be friable, the area of product must not exceed 10m2 and it should take no longer than one hour in any 1-week period to remove them. Although think about the risks you are taking.

You must also dispose of them in thick, double-wrapped, labelled plastic bags at an approved waste disposal facility. Most people can’t really adhere to all the regulations so that is why it makes more sense to avoid the risk and hire an approved asbestos removal company to avoid putting yourself at risk of hefty fines or even legal liability.

Once that is completed and the site is safe, renovation work can commence.

Learn more about dealing with Asbestos in NSW from the Government here when it comes to renovating.

What happens if you breath in asbestos?

When our team are renovating we will also wear a dust mask which is great for blocking typical work site dust. Sometimes property owners will help us clean the debris and wear one too.

 
However, it is not enough to stop asbestos particles. Wearing a simple mask from the local hardware store or supermarket isn’t going to give you the protection you need from the dangerous particles that float in the air.
 

If by chance you breathe Asbestos fibers, you may increase the risk of several serious diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos exposure may increase your risk for cancers of the digestive system, including colon cancer.

It’s really that simple & it is why there is such heavy Government regulation around dealing with this material and the most common issues that have to be dealt with in Sydney are related to renovating old properties.


Keep in mind this toxic mineral dust can remain in the air for hours, placing anyone nearby in danger of inhaling or ingesting it. In an environment with little disturbances, it may take 48 to 72 hours for Asbestos fibers to settle. If the dust is disturbed, it can easily become airborne again because it is so light.

How much does it cost to remove Asbestos in a bathroom

There are lots of Asbestos removal companies in Sydney that you can contact to get a quotation. The cost will vary based on the size of the bathroom. So for example Aztech Services estimate that the cost to remove Asbestos from a small bathroom is between $1,500 and $3,000 ex gst. Unfortunately this estimate isn’t very accurate because just what is a ‘small bathroom’ vs a larger one?

It isn’t just about the removal cost either. There is the option to have air monitoring which is strongly recommended but must be conducted by an independant Hygienist. This can cost around $500.00+GST/day.

You can also get an independent clearance inspection which is a requirement by law that has to be conducted by an independent Hygienist and costs approximately $350.00+GST.

 

Free site inspection, consultation & quote

It’s really easy to find out the cost to renovate. We offer an obligation free site inspection, consultation & written price quote so that you can work out all the costs before you commit to renovating.

Bathroom renovation before and after examples

We explain some of the renovation work we have completed for different projects in Sydney.

The cost of converting a 3 way bathroom to a property will vary depending on the scope of work required. If the existing plumbing can be used & there are no other major structural work required then it may cost between $10,000 and $25,000 depending on the tiles & products chosen.

If new plumbing has to be installed, new walls, structural engineering checks or other renovation work variations then the cost could be from $10,000 to $80,000 depending on the site, building type & how extensive the required work is.

Passion Built can visit your home to give you an assessment and written quotation.

If you are thinking about converting a 3 way bathroom you may require planning permission depending on the type of building it is, if walls or structural elements are getting changed or if you live in a heritage listed area.

In most cases if you are working within the existing building then you may not require additional approvals, although it is always wise to double check.

Converting a 3 way bathroom can be worth doing if it means you improve the overall practicality of the property. You might have a four bedroom house that only has one bathroom, so converting the existing space into separate rooms means you can create an ensuite, master bathroom or even combined bathroom & laundry which is extremely valuable to potential buyers.

The extra flexibility makes it a more liveable space & can add value when it comes time to sell.

Some properties have an old laundry that can be added to the bathroom to create more space to suit a floor plan conversion.

Absolutely, Passion Built specialises in helping people convert or renovate existing bathrooms or laundries in Sydney to have a different layout.

Converting an existing bathroom can be very straight forward sometimes because the room is already treated as a ‘wet area’ in the property.