Testing for Asbestos
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Thread: Testing for Asbestos

  1. #1
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    Testing for Asbestos

    Hello all!

    So my dads builder has just done a testing for asbestos on a house that is being demolished, but I'm afraid they might be lying or being shady with the situation. He received a results paper with the wrong address then was later sent a correct copy with everything fixed up. So my main questions are what are ways they could lie to us or in a sense "rip us off". Anything we need to be aware of or read carefully before paying the fee? Any input or past experiences are greatly appreciated.

    Please and thank you!!


  2. #2
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    There is an opportunity to be 'ripped off' when you have the asbestos testing done by a company that is also in the business of removing it. Then there is the possibility of them finding more asbestos waste sites/materials than necessary and quoting more work than necessary.

    What is recommended is that testing be done by an experienced company/lab that is used to sampling but is not in the removal business. Expect about $75/test material. With the report in hand, get quotes from 3 reputable removal companies and go with the one you judge to be most capable (they will want to view the report when on site preparing a quote).

    We had a removal job start just yesterday in a basement renovation, a walkout basement, about 900ft sq, about $7k.
    Your case is a bit different. It sounds like your demolition company has had the testing done, and will probably retain a removal company to handle the asbestos waste materials before they undertake the full demolition? The removal, encapsulation, and tippage/dump handling fees are likely to be similar to a reno though. (I'm not saying to expect $7k, that depends on the individual circumstances).

    Our reno is not in BC. I'm not sure how much regs change across the country. Greater than 1% asbestos by weight may be a common definition of asbestos waste that needs special handling? Check your city and provincial regs for your specifics. The builder probably needs proof the asbestos has been rmoved before the city will allow demo to proceed in full.

    Added: If the builder (of a new place) is doing the demolition and also doing the asbests removal, then you might be concerned about them charging you for asbestos removal, but actually just gutting the place and treating it all as construction waste and pocketing the difference. Expect asbestos removal to need a contained work space (with plastic and fans), double 6mm plastic wrapping of the waste, and handling at the dump that involves immediate burial.
    Last edited by OnlyMyOpinion; 2017-04-19 at 08:50 AM.

  3. #3
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    Are you skeptical about the property having asbestos or not having asbestos? And what areas need testing? Insulation? Cladding? Tiles?

    The only way to be certain is to obtain the test results from the actual laboratory who performed the testing. It will be clear on the report where the sampling was done, the materials tested and the contents of the materials. It will also give you a percentage of asbestos fibers if present. Health Canada considers anything >0.1% to be a hazard.

    So basically, if the report you have was written by your dad's builder, I would question the whereabouts of his lab.

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  5. #4
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    The general contractor (sounds like the one doing the demolition in your case) may have hired a consultant to take the samples, the consultant sends it to a lab (usually not the same company, but some bigger ones do consulting and lab analysis), and the lab generates a lab analysis report for the consultant, and the consultant generates a plain language report for the client (in this case, the contractor that hired him/her), and ultimately, you.

    Sometimes the contractor thinks they are qualified to take the samples, and they just send it to a lab for analysis. This introduces possible conflicts of interest, and also, most contractors don't know how to take samples correctly. They may disagree, and there are certainly exceptions, but if the demolition contractor who has no credentials to show you other than 'experience,' you should be careful. They may have experience with demolition, but hazardous building materials and interpreting results and giving good advice goes way beyond sending a piece of drywall joint compound to a lab.

    With the results of the lab testing, and hopefully you can get multiple quotes for the removal of the asbestos, like OnlyMyOpinion suggested. But if this is all being routed through your general contractor doing the demolition, they might not give you the consultant's report, because they likely paid for it and want to do the work, and don't want you shopping around. Usually the general contractor is not qualified to do more extensive asbestos removal, so they will subcontract it to an asbestos abatement specialist (still a contractor) who may be more familiar with the equipment and regulations.

    Some types of asbestos removal are more hazardous than others, the more hazardous types requiring more safety measures for the workers. And yes, more hazardous types (it depends on the type of building material and how the removal is to be done) are often way more expensive. For instance, floor tile is usually cheaper and easier; popcorn ceiling texture is usually more difficult and much more expensive. Different jurisdictions have slightly different definitions of what building material constitutes an asbestos-containing material (>0.5% by weight in Ontario).

    Your contractor, and you as the one ultimately footing the bill, have obligations under health and safety laws to protect the workers doing the asbestos work. If the abatement subcontractor knows what they are doing, your risk is reduced. So it is in your interest to have a reputable contractor.

    Basically, it's more involved than most people know because many people don't do it the right way, it costs more to do it the right way, and they don't appreciate the risk, not only to the workers, but to themselves (especially if you're going to be living there during or afterwards). People still die from exposure, and it's the workers who get sick. I'm sure you don't want to cheap out and make people sick (and die, often painfully), because that does happen, yes, even in Canada.

    To answer your original question. There are LOTS of ways in which you could be getting screwed. But they are basically the same ways you could be getting screwed hiring any other person to do anything for you. Don't treat this any differently. Do some research, look for referrals, don't go with the lowest price without asking some pointed questions.

    Asbestos removal is generally expensive, and generally substantially more expensive than normal demolition. But it depends on how much you have, so the initial assessment is critical.
    Hidden Content It's not a "how-to." It's a "why bother."

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    They are looking to charge $20,000 for the removal for a two story building around 1650 Sq. Ft.

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    Sounds a bit on the high side, but as digi pointed out, this may not be out of line depending on the materials involved. I assume it is 'all in' - no risk of paying more if they find other sources or tipping fees come in higher? I also assume you have a copy of the testing report and know the extent of materials that need to be removed.
    As digi also suggested, is this a cost to subcontract out to a qualified removal co.?
    Last edited by OnlyMyOpinion; 2017-04-21 at 08:37 AM.

  8. #7
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    I would suggest taking your own sample and sending it to an independent lab for analysis. I strongly suspect we recently got taken by a similar scam but have no way to prove it. I called the lab they used, but they refused to give me any information since I was not their customer. By the time I realized it, it was too late. Luckily ours only charged us around 1k, not 20k. (much smaller scale of work)

  9. #8
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    Thank you so much for your insight, there were a lot of valuable points i have taken from your well written response. (not saying other comments aren't valuable)

    So, from what i know the "builder" company is probably the ones who took the sample. apparently they are finding another contractor to go in and set up everything to remove the asbestos and still searching due to our end which is involved with pricing. As for "living in afterwords" the building is being completely demolished and rebuilt if that makes any difference to your statement, I'm not sure... When i also reviewed the results i also saw that most results turned up to only have < 5% Chrysotile mainly 3% Im not sure if that makes a difference or not in the pricing as you've stated ">5% by weight in ontario". when you say "ask some appointed questions" what kind of questions are you referring to. I have a few questions i have in mind but it probably won't be as specific and useful as the ones you have. Anymore input would be appreciated. on a side note, would it be a problem or pose any risk if i were to show people the results to people?

    Thanks!!



    Quote Originally Posted by digitalatlas View Post
    The general contractor (sounds like the one doing the demolition in your case) may have hired a consultant to take the samples, the consultant sends it to a lab (usually not the same company, but some bigger ones do consulting and lab analysis), and the lab generates a lab analysis report for the consultant, and the consultant generates a plain language report for the client (in this case, the contractor that hired him/her), and ultimately, you.

    Sometimes the contractor thinks they are qualified to take the samples, and they just send it to a lab for analysis. This introduces possible conflicts of interest, and also, most contractors don't know how to take samples correctly. They may disagree, and there are certainly exceptions, but if the demolition contractor who has no credentials to show you other than 'experience,' you should be careful. They may have experience with demolition, but hazardous building materials and interpreting results and giving good advice goes way beyond sending a piece of drywall joint compound to a lab.

    With the results of the lab testing, and hopefully you can get multiple quotes for the removal of the asbestos, like OnlyMyOpinion suggested. But if this is all being routed through your general contractor doing the demolition, they might not give you the consultant's report, because they likely paid for it and want to do the work, and don't want you shopping around. Usually the general contractor is not qualified to do more extensive asbestos removal, so they will subcontract it to an asbestos abatement specialist (still a contractor) who may be more familiar with the equipment and regulations.

    Some types of asbestos removal are more hazardous than others, the more hazardous types requiring more safety measures for the workers. And yes, more hazardous types (it depends on the type of building material and how the removal is to be done) are often way more expensive. For instance, floor tile is usually cheaper and easier; popcorn ceiling texture is usually more difficult and much more expensive. Different jurisdictions have slightly different definitions of what building material constitutes an asbestos-containing material (>0.5% by weight in Ontario).

    Your contractor, and you as the one ultimately footing the bill, have obligations under health and safety laws to protect the workers doing the asbestos work. If the abatement subcontractor knows what they are doing, your risk is reduced. So it is in your interest to have a reputable contractor.

    Basically, it's more involved than most people know because many people don't do it the right way, it costs more to do it the right way, and they don't appreciate the risk, not only to the workers, but to themselves (especially if you're going to be living there during or afterwards). People still die from exposure, and it's the workers who get sick. I'm sure you don't want to cheap out and make people sick (and die, often painfully), because that does happen, yes, even in Canada.

    To answer your original question. There are LOTS of ways in which you could be getting screwed. But they are basically the same ways you could be getting screwed hiring any other person to do anything for you. Don't treat this any differently. Do some research, look for referrals, don't go with the lowest price without asking some pointed questions.

    Asbestos removal is generally expensive, and generally substantially more expensive than normal demolition. But it depends on how much you have, so the initial assessment is critical.
    Last edited by Stee_Bun; 2017-04-24 at 03:30 AM.

  10. #9
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    I believe what digi said was >0.5% in Ontario.
    I'm not an expert but I understand in BC that any insulation with any amount of asbestos is considered "asbestos containing", and anything else with greater than 0.5% asbestos is defined as "asbestos containing", and anything greater than 1% by weight containing friable asbestos is considered "hazardous waste".
    Once you are dealing with a defined asbestos-containing material, the amount doesn't matter (i.e. 1.5% is no different than 3.0%). Then what you are doing with it as far as disturbing it determines its risk to workers. Removal for demolition is likely considered high risk and requires proper handling procedures. So whether it is 1.5% or 3.0% will not change the work and safety precautions (and cost) required to remove it.


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