The simple answer is as intrusive as is required to cover any areas where building materials could be disturbed as part of the refurbishment works.
The difficult question is how will you ensure that the surveyor has the correct level of access?
One important factor is the Scope of Works. How do you expect a surveyor to access and evaluate the risk of asbestos if there is no defined scope or the scope of works keeps changing?
[* See our article ‘The Importance of a Scope of Works’ for more thoughts and advice]
You need to be clear on what building elements are likely to be affected and equally which elements are not. You will be just as annoyed if a surveyor cuts a big hole in a wall that is not coming out as part of the works, or a window sill, a door surround, fixed boxing, a plastered ceiling etc. etc.
Once you are happy you understand what works are being carried out, how do you afford the surveyor the correct level of access?
In general terms, if your contractors are required to work on, touch or effect a building material or area, then the surveyor needs to assess it first.
There is a lot of industry talk about ‘Tidy Refurbishment Surveys’, meaning not much damage. OK, targeted minor intrusive surveys can be effective, but they need to be fit for the project requirements and scale, don’t just default to this approach.
Think about the occupation of the property whilst the survey is being carried out, but also after the survey has been carried out. By the nature of an intrusive survey, there may be locations that are not fit for reoccupation until the full refurbishment (re-instatement) has been carried out.
If the works are major and you are to vacate the property for the duration of the refurbishment or erect hoardings for your contractors to work behind, you should allow the same level of access to your asbestos surveyor.
Are there any special access requirements, for example are there sections that need to be dismantled by a specialist contractor especially where plant/machinery are involved. Specialist contractors may need to assist in providing access to the surveyor.
With the above, the survey may need to run alongside the refurbishment works as ‘Attendance Works’ if the surveyor cannot gain reasonable access to assess the entire area. There is a risk that asbestos containing materials could be discovered at this stage causing the works to stop, however if full access was not allowed prior, then this would present the same scenario. Another option would be for a phased approach to surveys as the works progress.
All the above should be in consideration to the overall risks. A building constructed in 1995 will present less risk than one constructed in 1955 so a different approach might be appropriate.
So, in summary, understand your scope of works, consider the requirements of the surveyor, consider the level of occupation and the possible phases of the project.
Importantly, be prepared to work with your surveying company.
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