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Large And Commercial Asbestos Roofs – What Are Your Options?

We discuss when corrugated asbestos roof sheets are likely to need refurbishment works undertaken, and what options are available in doing so.

It wasn’t until 1985 that the construction sector started banning asbestos products and not until 1999 that Chrysotile was added to that ban completely outlawing the use of asbestos within the sector.

Up until then it’s very possible that products used on both flat and pitched roofs, may have contained asbestos content.

This article focuses on asbestos fiber cement sheets used in roof (usually corrugated in profile) and looks at how to approach roof refurbishment projects containing these coverings.

How long do asbestos sheets last?

At the time of installation (usually between the 1960’s-1990’s) it was expected that an asbestos sheeted roof would have a life expectancy of up to 30 years, with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors outlining the life expectancy to be anywhere between 25-40 years.

Therefore at time of writing (2022) most asbestos roofs currently still in place are likely to be anywhere between 30-60 years old, and are likely to have already reached the end of their life expectancy.

Can You Repair An Asbestos Roof?

While it is possible to do so, it is important to note that asbestos roofs are very fragile, and traversing across them should only be done with all internal safety measures taken into account, such safety measures if done correctly (which they should always be) will be costly.

In addition, if you are thinking of coating an asbestos roof or an area of one, to get a sufficient bond, thorough cleaning and preparation is required, this will involve taking additional safety precautions to siphon off the waste water and dispose as per HSE guidelines, again adding further costs.

For the reasons mentioned above, and the fact that in most cases asbestos roofs have reached the end of their life expectancy, we do not believe the cost to repair or coat asbestos roofs offers good value, nor any significant guaranteed longevity and therefore would not recommend this approach.

Over Sheeting Asbestos Roofs

As a minimum, we would advise clients that over sheeting asbestos roofs, as with all asbestos roof refurbishment works, extensive precautions are needed to ensure the safety of operatives and the building users.

Over sheeting asbestos roofs involves leaving the existing corrugated sheets in place, and installing a brackets fixed into the existing structure. Thereafter the new sheets are fixed into these supports. Insulation can be added into the new roof void improving the energy efficiency of the building.

The benefits of such an approach include lower levels of disruption and costs saving by omitting the asbestos removal costs.

Asbestos Roof Removal and New Roof Reinstatement

The final option is the removal of the asbestos roof sheets and installation of a new single skin or composite roof panel.

Whilst the term “Asbestos” will in itself frighten most landlords and property owners, it needn’t. The removal of asbestos roofs and reinstatement with modern day equivalents is a very straightforward process, with the m2 cost of such projects usually lower than traditional pitched roofs.

The benefit of industrial roof sheets is that they are extremely easy and efficient to fix, and therefore large areas can be installed quickly.

As long as all necessary H&S measures are taken into account and works are carried out adhering to HSE guidelines, it is possible to remove and recover asbestos roof safely and quickly , having little or no impact on internal operations.

With all roofing and refurbishment projects, no asbestos roofing project will be the same, and there are always areas that may differ.

Whilst the above may provide a rough guide to what some of the options are, our surveying and estimating teams can assist with putting together a range of solutions, even at pre-tender stage to assist in ensuring all areas are addressed. Get in touch with the team here to find out more.