DIYs: Asbestos safety

For DIY renovators

If you’re planning home renovations, it’s important to first know whether asbestos may be present and how to deal with it safely.

As a general guide, if your house was built:

  • before the mid-1980s: it’s highly likely it contains some asbestos products
  • between the mid-1980s and 1990: it’s likely it would contain asbestos
  • after 1990: it’s unlikely it would contain asbestos

It’s not mandatory for building inspection reports to identify asbestos. The seller is not obliged to tell you if the house contains asbestos, either.

The dangers of asbestos

Even limited or short-term exposure to asbestos fibres can be dangerous.

Disturbing any amount of asbestos can release fibres into the air. These could be inhaled or swallowed, which may lead to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma in later years.

Even people who haven’t worked with asbestos could get an asbestos disease.

We’re now seeing people who have never worked with asbestos — but were exposed to it through activities such as home renovations — suffer from these diseases.

Getting an asbestos survey

If you’re unsure whether your home contains asbestos, an asbestos survey will help you learn its location and condition, and give guidance on how to manage the risk.

It’s important that a survey be conducted before you start work to avoid disturbing any asbestos containing material.

It’s recommended that you engage an experienced asbestos assessor to conduct an asbestos survey to identify any potential asbestos materials.

For detail on getting a survey done, see the information sheet in our Resources tab below.

Find an experienced asbestos assessor in Tasmania

Where you'll find asbestos in the home

Asbestos has been used in over 3,000 products, including those used in home areas commonly renovated or repaired:

  • bathrooms
  • kitchens
  • under vinyl floors, behind tiles and in carpet underlay
  • carports, sheds and outbuildings
  • guttering, downpipes and roof sheeting

Removing asbestos

If asbestos is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed, it can be left in place and monitored over time.

However, if asbestos is in poor condition or is likely to be damaged or disturbed during renovations, it should be removed.

Removal requirements depend on the type and amount of asbestos containing material present.

Find a licensed asbestos removalist in Tasmania

National Asbestos Exposure Register

The Australian Government has a register to record the details of people who think they may have been exposed to asbestos.

If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos either during the course of your employment, at home or in the community, you can submit your details on the register.