A reader's Asbestos question: asbestos cladding?

Hilary N.   from   Scone : Australia   had this asbestos cladding question.

Hi Bill, I am about to sell a house, built in the 1950s, clad in fibrous cement sheeting. I have been informed that it may not necessarily contain asbestos.
Could this be the case? It is made up of strips of overlapping "weatherboard" look alike material which is quite thick and strong. Were there different types of this sheeting?

Many thanks, Hilary

Bill's answer

Hi Hilary,
When I rebuilt my place in about 1977 (after Cyclone Tracy) I used a James Hardy and Co product called Hardiplank. They did it in a couple of widths and surface textures, and it was about 9mm thick from memory. At that time I thought that it did not contain asbestos. I subsequently had no trouble selling the house.

I'd have a guess and say that if your house was built in the 50's it would have been flat asbestos containing Fibro or asbestos cladding or sheeting. Then maybe 20 or 30 years later someone re-clad the place in Hardiplank, which in it's day was (and still is) an excellent product. Extremely low maintenance, fire proof etc. Google it.

I am about to sell my place up here, (another one) and I will be getting an engineer's certificate to the effect that it complies with the current strict design codes etc, and has not been illegally altered since the last inspection and approvals. I am doing this as a seller, to aid in the marketing. I do this because it gives the buyer confidence and they do not have to pay for the inspections themselves.

Maybe you should fork out a few hundred dollars and get an asbestos report from a professional. They will send samples for laboratory testing, the only real way to find out. Everything else is just someone's opinion. That way you will know, the best or the worst, but you remove any doubts that the buyers might have. The cladding may not contain asbestos, in which case you want to be able to prove it.

Of course the exterior cladding my be fine, but that is only part of it. You may still have asbestos sheets inside and under the eaves.

Best of luck with the sale.
Cheers Bill.

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