00/08 Safe & happy locals

    Renovation Time

    Before you commence any sort of renovation, it is really important to find out where asbestos could be located in your home in order to avoid unintended exposure that could prove harmful to the health and safety of you and your family. Approvals, removal and disposal also need to be considered before your renovation kicks off, so let the research begin!

    Where can I find asbestos?

    There are some standard guidelines that can help you determine whether your house would be likely to contain some building products that have asbestos fibres in them. These guidelines are based on the years asbestos products were manufactured and the age of your home. So, as a general rule, if your house was built:

    • before the mid-1980s – it’s highly likely that it has asbestos-containing products
    • between the mid-1980s and 1990 – it is likely that it has asbestos-containing products
    • after 1990 – it is unlikely that it has any asbestos-containing products.

    With this info in mind, please remember that there is always a chance that asbestos-containing products could have been used in your home if it was built prior to December 2003 – the time that the total ban on manufacture, reuse, use, import, transport, storage or sale of all forms of asbestos came into effect.

    Asbestos: A Guide for Householders and the General Public
    Australian Department of Health & Ageing

    Building products that contain asbestos can be found in many locations around your home. By far the most common asbestos-containing materials that you will find in your homes are of the non-friable variety – those that are bonded into solid panels.

    These products are likely to be used for:

    • roofing
    • exterior and interior wall cladding
    • eaves
    • fences
    • shingles & siding (villaboard and similar)
    • thermal board around fireplaces
    • water and flue pipes
    • backing of electrical boards.

    Asbestos: A Guide for Householders and the General Public
    Australian Department of Health & Ageing

    Have a look at a great diagram on the Asbestos Awareness website to see all the places you are likely to find asbestos in your home.

    The only way to know for sure whether a building product contains asbestos fibres is to get it tested by an accredited testing facility. For information about how to find one of these facilities near you, have a look at the Find a Professional section.

    Do I need approval?

    No you don’t. If you want to remove a small sheet of asbestos as part of a minor renovation, or because it is damaged, then you do not need approval. But remember, we strongly encourage you to use a licensed contractor for any asbestos removal, and if the quantity is greater than 10 square metres in area, then you MUST use a licensed contractor.

    If you intend to remove asbestos cladding to replace it with an alternate cladding, without modifying the structure of the dwelling, then you do not need approval.

    Even though you don’t need approval from your local council to conduct these works, you will need to engage a licensed contractor to do the removal work as the quantity will exceed 10 square metres (unless you have a seriously tiny house!).

    As a matter of courtesy, we recommend you talk to your neighbours before you start these works. If not, there is a good chance we will get a phone call from worried neighbours, and as a result you will get a visit from us.

    Please note, though, that you will need formal approval from your local council or a private certifier to remove asbestos cladding if:

    • you intend to replace the asbestos cladding with any other facade other than replacement cladding, such as brick veneer etc, or
    • you intend to modify the structure of your home.

    For more information about these requirements, give your local council a call.

    No you don’t. If you want to remove asbestos roofing, you do not need approval from your local council. However, for this type of work we strongly encourage you to use a licensed contractor – removing the asbestos is hazard enough without adding working up high on a roof to the mix! And remember, if the quantity is greater than 10 square metres in area, then you MUST use a licensed contractor.

    If the fence is a typical 1.8 metre compliant fence then you do not need any formal approval to remove/replace it. If the fence is a structure that would have required approval to build – that is, it is not a standard height etc – then you do need approval to remove/replace it.

    Keep in mind that matters involving boundary fences sometimes tend to create an amount of angst between neighbours, so it’s a great idea to discuss any removal or replacement of fences with your neighbours prior to commencement.

    The answer is yes! You WILL need approval to demolish the entire structure, whether it contains asbestos or not. The application can be made in any of the following ways, depending on the work you are doing:

    • Complying Development Certificate – This type of application is for developments that meet certain conditions (which are quite restrictive) and results in quicker approval and limited involvement from your local council post approval.
    • Demolition Application – This type of application can be made if you are proposing demolition alone, with no construction component. These applications can be made via your local council, or a private certifier.
    • Development Application – This type of application can be made if you are proposing a demolition and construction project that does not meet Complying Development Conditions. These applications can be made via your local council, or a private certifier.

    For more information about the specifics of each of the above application options, or to get the approvals process rolling, contact your local council.

    The answer is yes! You WILL need approval to demolish the entire structure, whether it contains asbestos or not. The application can be made in any of the following ways, depending on the work you are doing:

    • Complying Development Certificate – This type of application is for developments that meet certain conditions (which are quite restrictive). A lot of applications involving the demolition of a garage alone, and erection of a replacement structure, fall into this category.
    • Demolition Application – This type of application can be made if you are proposing demolition alone, with no construction component. These applications can be made via your local council, or a private certifier.
    • Development Application – This type of application can be made if you are proposing a demolition and construction project that does not meet Complying Development Conditions. These applications can be made via your local council, or a private certifier.

    For more information about the specifics of each of the above application options, or to get the approval process rolling, contact your local council.

    Removal Info

    We always recommend that you use a licensed contractor to remove any amount of asbestos; however, the true answer is – it depends on the quantity!

    Less than 10 square metres
    While Council’s recommendation is that you should never remove asbestos-containing materials without the help of a licensed contractor, the reality is that people do it, and if the area of asbestos sheeting is less than 10 square metres, then technically you are allowed to do so. This allowance is in place so the owner of a property is able to conduct minor repairs and renovations to sections of their property that are unlikely to affect the broader community. There are many safety precautions you need to follow to ensure the removal work is conducted in a way that minimises exposure to asbestos fibres. For more information about how to protect yourself, have a look at "What gear do I need to remove it?" here under the Removal Info section (second question below). And while we offer this information, we must reiterate that we strongly encourage you to always use a licensed contractor for your asbestos removal needs. Visit the Find a Professional section to find a licensed contractor near you.

    More than 10 square metres
    If the area of asbestos that you need to remove is greater than 10 square metres, then the answer is no – you are not allowed to remove it yourself! For such quantities you must get a licensed contractor to do the work. That’s the rules! For information about how you can find a licensed contractor near you, visit the Find a Professional section.

    No you are not! The removal of friable asbestos cannot be conducted safely without the use of specially designed equipment that only licensed professionals have available. It is not possible for a homeowner to remove any quantity of friable asbestos in a safe manner (not even quantities less than 10 square metres), so you simply must get some help! For advice on how to locate a licensed professional near you, visit the Find a Professional section.

    If you have less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos that you want to remove yourself, you will need the right gear to ensure you and your family are safe during the removal process. Here is a list of the main things you will need to get your hands on, all of which should be available at your local hardware store:

    • breathable, disposable coveralls
    • P2 mask with respirator (P2 refers to the Australian standard and is required as a minimum for asbestos removal)
    • disposable boot covers
    • black plastic, at least 2mm thick (enough plastic to wrap up the quantity of asbestos removed)
    • disposable safety gloves
    • dust-wipe rags
    • 1L water spray bottle with trigger
    • asbestos warning sticker – to stick on the asbestos pile once it’s all wrapped up
    • fibre-bonding or dust-binding solutions, or similar sealant – 500ml, and spray bottle to put it in.

    For more information about the protective gear you must wear to safely conduct the removal of small amounts of asbestos in your home, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Health website, or have a look at Workcover NSW’s ‘Working with Asbestos Guide’.

    The simple answer is no, you cannot! It is illegal to reuse asbestos-containing products in any way. Once removed, asbestos-containing products must be disposed of at a licensed waste disposal facility. For more information about disposal, visit the Disposal Info section.

    The safest way to remove any quantity of asbestos is to get an appropriately licensed professional to come and do the work for you. Pretty simple!

    However, if you have under 10 square metres of asbestos sheeting and you make the decision to do the removal work yourself, then you must wear the right protective gear and then get familiar with a long list of DON’Ts!

    Don’t drill it, don’t cut it, don’t drop it, don’t sand it, don’t saw it, don’t break it up, don’t scrape it, don’t scrub it, don’t dismantle it or waterblast it. Phew, that’s quite a list!

    There is a lot more info about this on the Asbestos Awareness website, and it is also worth looking at the Workcover NSW ‘Working with Asbestos Guide’ to make sure you have all the information you need before you get going.

    And remember, if the quantity of asbestos you have to remove is greater than 10 square metres, then you have to get a licensed asbestos removal contractor to do the work for you – that’s the safest way, and that’s the rules!

    Disposal Info

    If you need to remove more than 10 square metres of asbestos, the licensed contractor you get to do the work should take care of the disposal for you. But if you have removed a small amount of asbestos-containing material on your own (less than 10 square metres) you will need to figure out how to lawfully dispose of it. Here is some information that might help.

    Definitely not! We know that this option is tempting from a convenience point of view, but did you know that most councils in Sydney now have their rubbish bins tipped into a sorting facility where, at times, workers manually sort through your rubbish? Adding asbestos to your garbage bins puts many unsuspecting people’s lives at risk, so please don’t do it!

    From a legal point of view, placement of asbestos in your household garbage bin is an offence. By doing so, you are breaking the law; specifically the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005.

    Definitely not! It is never OK to place pieces of asbestos in any public place, including out on the footpath as part of a Council Clean Up. In doing this you are placing Council staff and innocent people passing by at risk, as well as facing a hefty fine yourself!

    If you have a small quantity of asbestos to dispose of, you are allowed to transport it to a licensed facility. It should be wrapped in thick builder’s plastic, separate from other wastes, and should only be moved in a covered, leak-proof vehicle.

    For more information about transporting asbestos, have a look at the NSW Environment Protection Authority website.

    The only way to lawfully dispose of asbestos is to transport it to a waste management facility that is licensed to accept it. Not all disposal facilities in Sydney are allowed to receive asbestos, so just to save you calling them all, below is a list of the ones who will take it for you. Always contact the facility beforehand to find out if there are any special requirements for delivering asbestos to the site. They will all want it wrapped and labelled, but some will only accept it at certain times of the day and some will need you to give some notice. So make a call beforehand, just to minimise frustration!

    Belrose Belrose Waste Management Centre, Crozier Road, Belrose, Ph 1300 651 116.
    Blacktown Blacktown Waste Services, 920 Richmond Road, Marsden Park, Ph (02) 9835 4544.
    Blaxland Blaxland Waste Management Facility, Attunga Road, Blaxland, Ph (02) 4782 1104.
    Eastern Creek Eastern Creek Waste Management Centre, Wallgrove Road, Eastern Creek, Ph 1300 651 116.
    Horsley Park Horsley Park Waste Management Facility, 716-56 Wallgrove Road, Horsley Park, Ph (02) 9620 1944.
    Kemps Creek SITA Environmental Solutions, 1725 Elizabeth Drive, Kemps Creek, Ph (02) 9756 6899.
    Lucas Heights Lucas Heights Waste Management Centre, New Illawarra Road, Lucas Heights, Ph 1300 651 116.
    St Peters Alexandria Landfill, 10 Albert Street, St Peters, Ph (02) 9519 5333.
    Terrey Hills Kimbriki Recycling and Waste Disposal Centre, Kimbriki Road, Terrey Hills, Ph (02) 9486 3542.

    Wetherill Park – SITA Environmental Solutions, 20 Davis Street, Wetherill Park, Ph 13 13 35
    (small, hand-unloadable quantities only).

    Just in case you have paid our site a visit and are not from Sydney, here are some links to lists of facilities that can take asbestos in other areas of NSW.

    North Coast NSW – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/ncasbestos.htm
    Hunter – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/hunasbestos.htm
    Illawarra and South Coast – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/illasbestos.htm
    North West NSW – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/nwasbestos.htm
    Central West – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/cwasbestos.htm
    South West – www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/swasbestos.htm
    Snowy Mountains - www.epa.nsw.gov.au/waste/asbestos/smasbestos.htm

    NSW Environment Protection Authority, 2014

    You can try calling some asbestos removal/disposal companies operating in the area where you live. They are sometimes happy to swing by (when they are on their way to the tip with another load of asbestos) and add your small quantity to the pile. They will usually charge a small amount for this service, but it is often less than the minimum charge applied by disposal facilities and spares you the concerns associated with transporting the material.

    You can also hire an ‘Asbestos Only’ skip bin, however, for the small amount you are allowed to remove (under 10 square metres), this may be an expensive way to go!

    In the past, it was not uncommon for asbestos waste to be buried in backyards throughout Sydney. If you happen to find the odd piece, wet it down (from a distance) and, wearing gloves, place it in a sturdy plastic bag and tie it off. Place it in a second plastic bag and tie it off again. Place the bag in a sealed bucket or container out of harm’s way. It is illegal to place this waste in your garbage bin.

    It will need to be disposed of in the manner addressed in the questions above. That is, at a disposal facility licensed to accept it or by paying a licensed contractor to take it away for you.

    If you are a resident of Cumberland Council, you can contact us and we will collect the material as part of our free asbestos collection service. To find out if your local council offers a similar service, you will need to give them a call!

    Sorry, this is not something we can help you with. You will need to contact an appropriately licensed professional to undertake the removal of this asbestos. Council staff are not trained in asbestos removal, nor can we be responsible for the removal of asbestos from private properties. We offer a small-scale ‘collection’ service (only once material has been removed from a structure), but this is only for non-friable quantities under 10 square metres and does not include contaminated soil.

    Definitely not! If you end up removing a small amount of asbestos as part of a minor renovation, you cannot add the material to a skip bin you have hired for the remaining construction and demolition waste. There are lots of reasons why not! Here are a few:

    • The skip may be taken to a facility not licensed to receive asbestos.
    • By adding asbestos, all waste in the skip will be classified as special/hazardous waste, and therefore you will be charged as if the whole load is asbestos (you don’t want to pay for heavy construction demolition waste at the asbestos gate fees – they are much more expensive than tipping clean construction and demolition waste).
    • The potential to recycle the remaining construction and demolition waste is eliminated by adding asbestos to the skip – the entire load is contaminated and no recycling will occur.
    • By placing asbestos in a skip bin, you are placing staff who are involved in the collection and processing of the waste within the skip at risk.

    Skip bins can be hired solely for the purpose of collecting asbestos. You should never mix asbestos with any other waste material.

    Cumberland Council offers a small-scale asbestos collection service (for residents only) with collections scheduled periodically throughout the year. For more information about this service, give us a call on 9840 9840.

    To find out if your council offers a similar service, you might have to drop them a line!

    Maintenance

    If asbestos products are in good condition, then you really have nothing to worry about. However, if they become damaged or they deteriorate, it is essential that they are repaired or removed to ensure the health & safety of your family. There are ways you can maintain them to improve their longevity, or repair them once damaged. The main goal of all maintenance and repair measures is to stop the release of asbestos fibres contained within the product.

    Here are some suggestions:

    • Cracked asbestos – You should seal the crack with a product like PVA glue, polyfiller or paint. If the damage is more significant, the entire sheet should be replaced and the old sheet disposed of correctly.
    • Small hole in asbestos – To encapsulate any asbestos fibres and protect the sheet from further damage, exposed edges should be painted or sealed with a PVA glue solution or similar product.
    • Weathered asbestos - Ordinary paints do not bond well to the surface of weathered asbestos, however, other special sealants/surface coatings can be used to seal the material. We recommend seeking advice from professional painters in this situation.
    • Weathered or hail-damaged asbestos roofing – It’s definitely best to get the professionals in for this one! Asbestos-related risks aside, the dangers of working at height, on a damaged surface, are reason alone to get a licensed expert on board. There are many roof repair companies out there that specialise in installing asbestos roof encapsulation systems, so it might be best to give one of them a call.

    Most of these are short-term solutions only, and ultimately it would be preferable to engage the services of a licensed professional to replace the damaged sheets (with asbestos-free alternatives) and dispose of them lawfully.

    If you are concerned about the state of some asbestos in your Housing NSW property, you should report your concerns to the Housing NSW Contact Centre on 1300 468 7464. The matter will be investigated and any necessary action taken.

    Housing NSW has a ‘Manage Asbestos Policy’, which details the actions you can expect from the department in relation to your concerns.

    For more information about the policy and your rights as a Housing NSW tenant, visit the Housing NSW website.

    As a private tenant, you do have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 in relation to asbestos. Have a look at this fact sheet to learn more.

    If Council receives a call from a concerned neighbour about the state of asbestos on your roof then we will usually pay you a visit to have a look at it. If the roof is visibly damaged to the extent that it is deemed a risk to public health, then we can issue an order to repair/replace the damaged sheet/s. Rest assured, we are not the asbestos police checking out your property on the sly… our investigations are complaint driven and our assessments are based on visual damage only.

    In the interest of your family’s health and safety, it is always encouraged that asbestos-containing products in poor condition be repaired/removed, preferably by an appropriately licensed professional.

    Find a Professional

    The best place to look is the Workcover NSW website, because it contains a list of companies that hold current asbestos removal licences. It is really important that the company you select is appropriately licensed to do the work for you, giving you peace of mind that you can trust them to complete the work for you in accordance with all relevant guidelines and in the safest manner for you, your family and local community.

    If the contractor you have your heart set on was sourced in the Yellow Pages, a general web search or recommended by a friend, we would encourage you to look them up on the Workcover NSW website mentioned above, just to check they are appropriately licensed to do the work for you.

    An occupational hygienist is the professional you need to help you find out exactly where asbestos is in your home. There is a list of NATA-accredited occupational hygienists on the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists website, so you might as well start there!

    If you have a small piece of material that you think contains asbestos, you can send it off to a lab for testing (some will even come and collect it for you!). You can find a testing location near you by visiting the National Association of Testing Authorities website. Under the Test Type Search heading, enter ‘asbestos’ as the keyword and your postcode and/or state to get a list of the labs nearest to you.

    Still need answers?

    If you have another question we haven’t been able to answer here, have a look at the info on offer from these great organisations.

    Asbestos Awareness
    This is a really great site with heaps of general info about asbestos, as well as a great diagram showing you where you are likely to find asbestos in your home.

    Workcover NSW

    Environment Protection Authority NSW
    Disposal info

    Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia

    Department of Health
    This site has a focus on health-related information, but includes a great document titled ‘Asbestos: A guide for householders and the general public’ – well worth a read!

    Housing NSW
    This document outlines who you should call as a Housing NSW tenant to report maintenance issues relating to asbestos.

    Tenants NSW

    This site details your rights as a private tenant in relation to asbestos.

    Dust Diseases Board

    Australian Asbestos Safety & Eradication Agency

    Bernie Banton Foundation

    Here are some actual documents for you too! They are well worth a read!

    Asbestos – A guide for householders and the general public

    Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing, February 2013

    Safely disposing of asbestos waste from your home

    NSW Environment Protection Authority

    Working with Asbestos Guide

    Workcover NSW