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Check for asbestos before renovating your home

NZ regulations now require asbestos management plans

A New Zealand regulation for asbestos came into effect in April 2018, which affected a lot of homeowners who wanted to renovate their properties. The new regulation required building owners, managers, and occupiers to have an asbestos management plan, which should be accessed by workers who will carry related work in the property.

An asbestos management plan must contain written information about the identification of asbestos and other asbestos-containing material (ACM), a definitive plan or approach, and comprehensive procedures on how it will be managed. It should include details on training, the roles and responsibilities of each worker, health monitoring, and the like. Decontamination companies doing the work will need to have the proper Certificate of Competence before carrying out a job. 

This regulation also requires all properties undergoing renovations to be assessed for asbestos. Anyone in charge of renovation becomes the designated PCBU, meaning a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking, and this person also holds responsibility for any other person who comes to the work site. He or she needs to ensure that none of the workers are exposed to asbestos while doing the renovation work.

Asbestos is a combination of naturally occurring minerals that became popular building materials decades ago due to its resistance to fire, water and chemicals aside from its strength. It isn’t harmful unless it is broken up or exposed, and when they do, the fibres can enter the air, and subsequently, the lungs. These fibres are extremely small and they can’t be removed, which can lead to serious health issues like lung cancer, among other respiratory ailments that won’t manifest right away.

Many older buildings still have asbestos-containing exteriors. When undisturbed, these claddings can still safely serve the building. Extreme care must be taken, however, when replacement with new cladding is planned.

If a structure was built after the year 2000, however, it is probably free of ACM and will not need any special procedures and precautions if any demolition or renovations take place.

Older structures, however, can have asbestos in a range of locations. There are sources available on the internet that show common locations of where asbestos can be found, from top to bottom, interior and exterior of certain structures.

In some places, asbestos can be found in the insulation, roofing, ceilings, vinyl flooring, window putty, heating ducts, water heaters, pipe insulation, and boilers.

If you are planning to do some renovations, make sure that you know these regulations surrounding asbestos. Chemcare provides asbestos removal services to ensure the safety of residential and commercial buildings in New Zealand. Don't begin your renovations yet unless you're 100% sure that there are no harmful and hidden asbestos particles present in your property.