Tips for Ensuring Your Property Is Safe

Published On June 7, 2017 | Real Estate

As the shortage of new development sites in Sydney’s suburbs continues unabated, developers are increasingly looking to redevelop old industrial sites in Sydney’s West including extensive asbestos removal, to meet the demand for new development land. 

So, if you have your heart set on that perfect newly-released block for your dream home, make sure you do your research and understand your site’s history.

Post-Industrial Chic

Sydney West was the love child of the epic post-World War II baby boom. An increasingly affluent middle Australia saw more and more families move out of inner cities and flock to the newly created suburbs. Unfortunately, that post-war boom also represented the apogee of asbestos used as a domestic building material.

Seduced by asbestos’ insulating and fire retardant properties, asbestos found its way into an alarming range of applications, from fibro walls and roofing tiles to vinyl flooring, flashing, insulation, siding, electrical meter boards and pipe cement. This left later generation to conduct expensive and potentially dangerous asbestos testing often followed by hazardous asbestos removal.

Soil Ain’t Soil

Another lingering problem lies under the surface. Many estates occupy areas, which were previously occupied by industrial sites. Consequently, this land was often polluted with heavy metals, including high concentrations of lead. Frequent tests revealed alarming levels of lead, arsenic and other poisons in homes, playgrounds and parks.

Heavy metals had widespread applications in industry, agriculture, and medical manufacturing. Prime culprits include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury and the potential presence raised concerns over their potential toxic effects on human health and the environment.

How to Test Your Soil

Soil testing involves an on-site consultation where your site is surveyed and samples are taken to identify potential sources of pollution. Sometimes the source may be obvious but if your block has been re-contoured and fill soil graded on top of its original soil, the potential source of pollution could lie deep underneath your home or garden where it remains active. This is followed by laboratory analysis to identify the presence of any toxic or harmful substances.

Handy Hint

Make sure your soil-testing consultant complies with both:

  • Australian Standards (AS) and
  • RTA Standards

3 Signs You Need To Call In the Experts

  • Tearing down old walls, ceilings and fittings, demolishing old out buildings and structures including pipes and conduits

  • Removing floor coverings, and drilling holes in existing structures

  • Disturbing the soil by excavating for foundations, extensions and landscaping

If your plans include any of these steps, consult an expert. Your council may require you to provide an asbestos inspection report and an asbestos inspection report is mandated by the “Work, Health and Safety Regulations 2011” for any residential building built before December 1, 2003.

Final Word

Sydney has experienced a sustained renovation boom over the last 20 years. Many of these renovations have uncovered evidence of heavy metal and asbestos contamination. If you are considering renovating your home and you live in an older structure have a professional conduct asbestos testing or your plans include disturbing the ground, commission soil testing. It’s worth it for your peace of mind 


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