So you want to take down a wall in your home…you know..the one between the kitchen and living room. It will make your home a little bit more open concept. Simple right?
The first question you need to ask yourself is when was your home built? If it was built before 1991 this may NOT be a simple process. My goal in the writing of this article is not to gain work, but educate homeowners and reduce their frustration.
We now know that asbestos can cause deadly diseases. For this reason legislation has been put in to place to protect you, your family, any workers you hire, as well as the workers at our landfills.
First, you need to test the drywall mud in that area for asbestos, as well as any other materials you are planning to disturb or remove. You have a couple of choices here. You can call an environmental company and ask for directions on how to collect the samples to take to them for analysis, or you can hire them to come and do the sampling and analysis. Another option is to call us at Home SOULutions Remediation. Our friendly and knowledge staff have been trained in the protocols for sample collection. We will come to your home and take the required amount of samples. At the same time, will answer any questions you have about asbestos and the removal of asbestos. We will send the samples off to the lab for you and charge you for the lab costs.
If your tests come back negative – or the term in our industry: “non-containing”, it is safe for you to conduct the demolition with no need to worry about the inhalation of asbestos fibres. You can also take it to the landfill as long as you have your Certificate of Analysis from the lab that proves it is non-containing.
If your tests come back positive, or “containing”, it is not safe for you to conduct your demolition. You will be taking the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres. It is true that there is no legislation saying you can’t do the job yourself. It is also true that, just like smoking, asbestos affects some and not others. We always use the analogy….
“There is nothing stopping you from doing your own dental work…but you are risking your health and we wouldn’t advise it”.
If your drywall compound test is containing, we recommend that you hire a skilled abatement company to remove this wall. Just like you would hire a qualified electrician to conduct electrical work. Asbestos removal is not inexpensive. It may interest you to know that the abatement company’s prices are high due to their costs. We are required to conduct air monitoring throughout the demolition project. This can range from $350 to $500 per day. Then to ensure the job is ‘clear’, we also pay for a third party final air test and an Asbestos Clearance letter, yet another $500. Shipping the material (from the Comox Valley) to the Victoria landfill by a special Transportation of Dangerous Goods Courier is quite costly at approx. $90 per hour for a return trip and then another .42 cents per kg at the landfill. Abatement companies’ also pay anywhere from $700 to $1000 per month for the insurance for this industry. Education and training is also an expense and very little of it is offered locally. Home SOULutions workers hold industry-specific certificates and have taken many training courses in BC, Alberta and the US.
If you decide to conduct the job yourself - even though it is containing, you may run into other challenges. Here are just a few:
- The cost of the proper protection gear, containment poly, special 6ml bags and a negative air machine is quite expensive and is difficult to source.
- If you do not properly contain the area, the dust will spread throughout your house and it contains asbestos fibres that may be inhaled by your family.
- If you are removing asbestos materials due to a sale of your home, a final clearance report and asbestos clearance letter will be required. This is where an environmental company will inspect your job and test the air for particles.
- If you hire anyone to help you with this job, you are now under the scrutiny of WorkSafe BC, will be required to have a Risk Assessment conducted, file a Notice of Project and can expect a site visit from them.
- You cannot take the debris to the local landfill. You will have to bag your material in special bags marked for asbestos and take it to a holding area down island, or take it directly to the landfill in Victoria.
- If your shipment is over 1000 kg you will need to apply for a Waste Generation Number with the ministry of Environment. This can take a few days to process.
In closing, if your house was built before 1991 ask questions, read articles, make educated decisions.