Does A Building Inspection Check For Asbestos?

Asbestos inspection

In Australia, the legacy of asbestos in building materials remains a significant health concern. Given the country’s extensive history with asbestos use up until the mid-1980s, the question of whether building inspections check for asbestos is not just valid but crucial for both homeowners and potential buyers. In this article, we dive into the Australian context of asbestos in buildings, the regulations surrounding asbestos inspection, and what you should expect during a building inspection.

The Asbestos Legacy in Australia

Australia was one of the highest per-capita users of asbestos until the mid-1980s. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were commonly used in residential, commercial, and industrial constructions due to their durability, fire resistance, and insulating properties. However, the health risks associated with asbestos fibres, particularly mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, led to a complete ban on its use, import, and manufacture by December 2003.

Understanding Building Inspections

A standard building inspection aims to identify any significant issues with a property through visual examination. This typically includes the structural integrity of the building, checking for pests, electrical safety, plumbing, dampness, and other potential defects. However, it’s important to note that standard building inspections may not specifically include an asbestos check unless requested.

How to Request an Asbestos Inspection

Find the Right Professional

Ensure your building inspector is either qualified to conduct asbestos inspections or can recommend a specialist who is. This may involve a separate asbestos inspector or a service that offers both building and asbestos inspections.

Specify Your Needs

When booking your inspection, explicitly request an asbestos inspection as part of the service. This will likely incur an additional fee, but considering the health implications and potential future costs associated with asbestos removal, it is a worthwhile investment.

Understand the Process

An asbestos inspection involves a thorough examination of the property for the presence of ACMs. This may include visual inspections, the collection of samples for laboratory testing, and an assessment of the condition of any identified asbestos.

Review the Report

An asbestos inspection report should detail the locations of any asbestos found, the condition of these materials, and recommendations for management or removal. This information is crucial for making informed decisions about the property.

Asbestos Inspections in Australia

Given the specific health risks associated with asbestos, inspections for ACMs are specialized services conducted by licensed asbestos assessors or removalists. These professionals are equipped with the knowledge and tools to safely identify and manage asbestos materials.

Regulatory Framework

In Australia, the management of asbestos is governed by strict regulations and guidelines. The ‘Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Asbestos in Workplaces‘ provides a framework for identifying and safely managing asbestos in commercial and public buildings. Each state and territory also has its own regulations that complement the national code.

Asbestos Inspection in Building Inspections

When purchasing a property, particularly those built before 1990, it is highly recommended to request an asbestos inspection as part of the building inspection process. Some inspection services offer combined building and asbestos inspections, which can provide peace of mind to potential buyers about the presence of asbestos.

What Happens During an Asbestos Inspection?

An asbestos inspection involves a thorough examination of the property to identify any materials suspected of containing asbestos. This may include taking samples of materials for laboratory analysis. The inspector will also assess the condition of these materials, as damaged or deteriorating ACMs pose a higher risk of releasing fibres into the air.

What to Do If Asbestos Is Found?

Discovering asbestos in a property is not uncommon in Australia, especially in older buildings. If asbestos is found, the inspector will provide recommendations based on the condition of the ACMs. In some cases, if the asbestos is in good condition and not at risk of being disturbed, it may be safe to leave it in place, monitoring its condition over time. In other situations, particularly where asbestos is damaged or poses a health risk, professional removal may be recommended.


In conclusion, while a standard building inspection in Australia might not automatically check for asbestos, the importance of such an assessment cannot be overstated, especially in older properties. Buyers should proactively request an asbestos inspection to ensure their future home is safe from the hidden dangers of asbestos. Remember, dealing with asbestos is a task for professionals, emphasizing the importance of engaging licensed assessors to manage the risks associated with this hazardous material.