Professionals trained in the removal of asbestos can safely and efficiently remove building materials containing asbestos from a home in preparation for a remodeling project or during repairs if asbestos is suspected. Occurring naturally in rocks and soil, asbestos is a carcinogen that was used widely in building materials prior to the 1970s because of its extreme heat resistance. It’s commonly found in duct and pipe insulation, attic insulation, ceiling and wall acoustical tiles, cement asbestos siding, and floor tiles and tile adhesives. The danger of household asbestos is in disturbing the materials containing it, which is why it’s critical to hire a trained professional to remove it. If a building is more than 30 years old, it’s wise to have it tested for asbestos if walls are coming down or tiles and other insulated surfaces will be disturbed.
Because of the health dangers that asbestos fibers pose when disturbed and released into the air, contractors qualified to remove it have completed extensive training and may charge $200 an hour or more. Qualified asbestos remediation specialists also must ensure their own safety with specialized equipment, such as respirators, eye protection, disposable coveralls and gloves, rubber boots, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums that can suck up microscopic particles and cost $1,000 and higher.
Asbestos removal costs vary based on geographic region and the size of the remediation job. Removing a 10-foot section of asbestos pipe insulation could cost $400–$650. Removing asbestos from a 1,500-square-foot-home in which it is found extensively could cost $20,000–$30,000.
Many asbestos-removal contractors charge a minimum fee of $1,500–$3,000.
Depending on where in a building asbestos is found, a specialized building contractor may be able to complete the remediation work, even if he or she doesn’t have a state asbestos-removal license. The trade professionals that are typically familiar with asbestos—because it’s so commonly used in older buildings—include roofing, flooring and siding contractors. (State requirements can be found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of asbestos contacts by state.)
The sure way to know if there is asbestos present is to have an inspection done. An initial inspection typically costs $400–$800, and a final inspection, costing about $200, will be required after removal to be sure the area is safe. The cost to have a lab analyze samples taken from the site cost about $25–$75. To avoid conflict of interest, experts advise consumers to use different providers for the inspection and remediation services.
Because asbestos is categorized as a hazardous material, asbestos removal contractors must follow federal, state and local regulations, including specific removal and cleanup methods. Be sure these regulations and methods are spelled out in your contract before you sign it.
In addition to contractors who specialize in asbestos removal, some companies that remove other hazards, such as mold, may be able to handle asbestos removal. Four Corners Specialized Home Care, based Royal Oak, Michigan, can inspect for asbestos and take care of mold inspection and removal too.