Asbestos – What We Did!

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and for years prior to 1990 it was a popular in construction Canada wide.  Mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against wintry weather and noise. It has also been used, and, in some cases, continues to be used, in products like:

  • cement and plaster
  • industrial furnaces and heating systems
  • building insulation
  • floor and ceiling tiles
  • house siding

Here we were, looking to renovate a townhouse that was built in the late 1970’s – we were pretty sure that there would be asbestos. Therefore, during our home inspection period we had a testing company come out and grab samples from everywhere that could potentially contain asbestos. We were right, they did detect 2% Chrysotile Asbestos (which is by far the most common form) in the drywall joint compound no where else. The company said that it was often added to the mud as a binding agent – I sure didn’t know that. Anyways, we negotiated with the seller some of the costs and were off the races.

So, you know, Health Canada says there are no significant risks if materials containing asbestos in your home are:
  • tightly bound in products and are in good condition
  • sealed behind walls and floorboards
  • isolated in an attic
  • left undisturbed

Well, we were definitely going to be disturbing those nasty little asbestos fibres, so next came abatement. We hired M.A.R.S. Environmental Services to do the work for us as we wanted it done properly and safely. It was going to take them 2.5 to 3 full days to remediate all the areas that were going to be affected by our renovation plans. That even included around each of the electrical plugs we were either going to move or replace/repair.

Did we learn a lot through the process? Yes. Was it a bit costly and time consuming? Yes. Was it worth it? YES!! The health of my family, and the ability to confidently say it has been remediated when we go to sell, is totally worth it.  I would say that if you are going to be renovating or flipping an older property, get the testing done prior to waiving your conditions for peace of mind and to ensure you still have a profit margin in that flip!