A reader's Asbestos question: Asbestos house?

Betsu E.   from   Sale, Australia   had this Asbestos house question.

G'Day Bill,
Just made an offer on an house in Sale Victoria 3850, when a friend put forward the asbestos issue.

The house that I am looking at has concrete walls with brick like tiling embedded onto the exterior wall and concrete slab floor. I am a total novice when it comes to building designs or materials thought I'll search for some info on asbestos and came across this very informative site of yours.

Thanks for putting up something like this.

Now back to my issue, do you think there are any serious hazards associated with this type of construction either due to asbestos or any other reason? I could send you pictures but don't know if I can using this form. I know you are not obliged to give me a quick answer but if you get a chance please respond as it'll help me decide whether to proceed with the offer or back-off even though it would make me a bit unpopular.

Thanks Bill. Appreciate your help.

Bill's answer

Hi Betsu, First off, pulling out of a sale after making an offer, only makes you unpopular with the seller. Don't worry about it. Just walk away if that is how you feel. You have a four day (working days, not weekends or holidays) cooling off period in which you can pull out for no reason at all.

After that it depends on the terms of the contact you signed (or will sign).

Usually you state that the offer is subject to various conditions, eg. bank valuation, approval of your finance, termite inspection, structural engineer's report, etc etc.
All of these you have to organise yourself (or the agent) and you pay for them. You can legitimately pull out and retain your deposit if any of these reports are adverse.

Check with you agent for details of this, because after the period of time allowed for these inspections etc. the contract goes unconditional and you can't pull out for any reason without loosing heaps of cash.

Now to get to the point of all that, you could make your offer conditional on you having an asbestos inspection report done by someone with the correct license. Then depending on what happens you can use it to pull out, accept, or amend your offer.

The sheeting that you are talking about certainly seems as though it is the asbestos containing product put out by James Hardy and Co.

I have never seen that imitation brick sheeting (is it about 8-10mm thick?) used on concrete walls, it was always used on studwork to make a timber frame house look like a brick house.

If the house is the right age for it, (you must find this out) and if the sheeting is the asbestos containing material, then there is a good chance that there is other asbestos in the house as well. Eaves lining, ceiling lining. Tilux in the bathroom etc.

By all means send me photos of the place, just as an attachment when you reply to this EMail. Remember though that I can only give you a general idea. If you are in any doubt get a proper inspection.


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