The UK banned the use of asbestos in 1999. 

We all know about it, and we’ve all heard horror stories. But plenty of people still fail to get a survey done before adapting their home.

Could you say for certain that your home or place of work is 100% asbestos-free? It’s not worth finding out the hard way. 

Read on to find out why an asbestos survey is the only way to go. 

What Is Asbestos?

For all the trouble it causes, it might surprise you to know that asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre.

Asbestos fibres are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals and don’t dissolve in water or evaporate, making them extremely robust. Used in construction and other industries until its ban in the late 90s, asbestos was most commonly used for insulation, flooring and roofing. 

Although asbestos poses little risk when intact, we now know that it can cause serious ill effects to our lungs if we inhale the microscopic fibres released when it gets damaged. 

Asbestos-related lung conditions can take many years to occur after exposure, meaning many people who would have been working in construction or similar industries in the 70s, 80s and 90s may be at risk of developing complications in the here and now.

Asbestos And UK Law

Despite being famous for its life-threatening make-up and outlawed in 1999, there is still no legal requirement for any individual to carry out an asbestos survey before any building work is undertaken to a house. 


Interestingly, there are two types of asbestos – serpentine (white) asbestos and amphibole (brown and blue) asbestos. And the latter has actually been banned since 1985!

Why Do I Need A Survey?

asbestos survey

Quite simply, asbestos could be sitting in your home or outbuildings… It makes sense to get a survey done before you go smashing up parts of the buildings to make way for adaptations.

Did you know that around 20 tradesmen die each week as a direct result of having inhaled asbestos fibres in the past? Although banned over 20 years ago, the natural but deadly material still kills around 5,000 workers each year.

Getting an asbestos survey pencilled in before taking up any building work could keep your contractors – and your family – safe from harm. 

Let’s look at the most common asbestos-related diseases you could prevent by getting a survey done.


Almost always occurring as a result of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma – cancer which affects the lining of the lungs and lower digestive tract – is usually fatal by the time a patient is diagnosed.

Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

This type of lung cancer is hard to spot among other lung cancers, such as that caused by smoking, and as such, it often goes undiagnosed until after it’s too late.


Asbestosis is a serious scarring of the lung tissue that comes about after pretty heavy asbestos exposure over a long period of time. Characterised by shortness of breath that worsens over time, asbestosis can be fatal in severe cases. 

Pleural Thickening

Symptoms of pleural thickening include chest pain and severe shortness of breath that happens as the lining of the lungs thickens and swells. It’s a condition that occurs after moderate to heavy asbestos exposure. 

As you can see, asbestos-related illnesses are no joke. Despite not being used nowadays, the material still exists in plenty of properties throughout the UK. There’s a sense of responsibility and duty that anyone contemplating making changes to their home should shoulder.

But I Don’t Think My Building Has Asbestos!

There’s a good chance your building might be asbestos free. 

But ask yourself, is not finding out for sure really worth the risk?

Some adaptations require little or no invasive building work, but many involve ripping into and removing a lot of internal material. Finding out asbestos has been used in the construction of your property could be devastatingly harmful to those exposed to it, as well as timely and costly to put right.

Asbestos is not something you want to mess around with. 

Think you might have asbestos within your property? Book a call with our friendly John Ford Group team to talk through any worries and get great advice from our experts.