Renovating? Read This First

February 24, 2021

We’re known as specialists in managing asbestos in Auckland and Waikato but that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in what’s happening further afield. By keeping up to date with asbestos-related news and views from around New Zealand and all over the world, we can offer you up-to-date information and opinions from other experts in the field. 

That’s why we thought we would share some of the key findings in an Australian report we recently read. It was released by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, which is funded by the Australian government with the goal of ridding the country's buildings of asbestos. That’s a big job, given that Australia, like New Zealand, used asbestos in hundreds of different ways back in the 20th century. 

The agency recently stated that recent evidence suggested there was now “a third wave of asbestos-related disease caused by non-occupational exposure associated with home renovations.” It is an alarming statement but given that shows like The Block have inspired a new generation of DIY home renovators, then it’s hardly surprising. When you have amateurs dealing with stuff that only licenced professionals should handle, it’s little wonder that organisations like the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency have the concerns they do. 

Of course, we’re DIY mad on this side of the Tasman too. But while people are doing their own renovations, they’re highly likely to encounter asbestos-based building products which they’ll likely want to remove. That’s where things get tricky. 

An online poll in New Zealand said that only 33% of respondents were confident that they could  identify products in their homes containing asbestos. Actually, that figure is probably a little high and we’d be very surprised if that many people could identify asbestos. It’s not highly apparent because it is usually blended with other materials. Asbestos has been identified in approximately 3800 different building products used in New Zealand homes, from the floor to the roof. If you’re renovating an older home, you’ll come across it but as we always say….don’t panic!  

Building products containing asbestos are generally safe if left alone. But when you start cutting, sanding, hammering or whatever else you might do during the renovation process, then asbestos fibres are released into the atmosphere and that’s when the material can be harmful. As an amateur renovator, you need to take a professional approach. And that means calling us before you start renovating. It’s one thing to be able to identify asbestos but it’s another thing to manage it, and that’s why contacting us is the only way to ensure a safe and happy renovation.