I recently employed a decorator to paint some rooms in my house. Before work started, we agreed exactly what the decorator had to do. Which rooms needed painting, the colours we wanted and the finish on the woodwork (always satin in our house!). The price was agreed and the job went ahead. We now have a house decorated exactly as we want it. So the question is, why when it comes to costly asbestos removal, do people spend huge sums without agreeing the scope of works beforehand?
A very common practise is to hand over an asbestos survey to a removal contractor and say “remove the asbestos please”. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound too daft. However, what is often overlooked is the very reason the asbestos is being removed.

A common example is boiler rooms

Here’s how this regularly plays out (and I do mean regularly):

  1. The client (or duty holder) has a boiler that needs to be upgraded or replaced. Client instructs an asbestos survey prior to works.
  2. Asbestos survey identifies legacy asbestos issues such as asbestos insulation residue to pipework and walls.
  3. Licensed asbestos removal contractor given copy of survey and asked to cost works.
  4. Client instructs removal company who draw up a plan of works based on removing the asbestos, not replacing a boiler.
  5. Licensed asbestos removal contractor carries out removal and instructs an Analyst to carry out a four-stage clearance (The client should appoint their own independent Analyst but this still very rarely happens in practise).
  6. Analyst arrives on site and reads plan of works which does not mention anything about removing the boiler.
  7. Analyst starts visual inspection in boiler room and finds areas that are difficult to clean. Analyst and licensed asbestos removal contractor agree to encapsulate tricky areas to help speed up the four-stage clearance. Analyst completes clearance and issues certificate of re-occupation. Licensed asbestos removal contractor clears site.
  8. Clients M & E contractor tries to fit new pipework but finds walls are freshly painted and have asbestos warning labels applied. Client checks certificate of re-occupation only to find that the walls have not been given a clean bill of health and a comment saying that any fixing to the walls cannot be made to the walls unless performed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor. More expense, more delay and all totally unnecessary if the works had been properly specified in advance.

The above scenario is scarily common

Other recent examples of badly scoped asbestos removal works include:

  • An Analyst and asbestos removal contractor decide to paint ceiling joists rather than spend the extra time getting them fully cleaned. The result? The homeowner was unable to use her loft or put-up ceilings on the first floor of her house. Additional and unnecessary cost of £5,000.
  • An asbestos removal contractor encapsulated hard to reach asbestos sprayed coating residue in an old warehouse. The job was very nicely completed but nobody told them that the aim of the client was to demolish the warehouse and redevelop the site. The result? Serious delays to the project while the asbestos removal works were completed.
  • An asbestos removal contractor believed they had been asked to remove a small piece of asbestos insulation residue. The duty holder thought they had instructed a full decontamination of a service tunnel and didn’t realise until they looked at the completion paperwork. The result? The asbestos removal work had to be re-done from scratch delaying the whole project.
  • An asbestos removal contractor quoted for and almost carried out £100,000 worth of completely pointless asbestos removal. All that was required was a very localised decontamination to enable electricians to access a small area of loft space to fix a cable. Fortunately, the client asked Vintec to intervene and we were able to produce a detailed scope of works that, when priced properly, came to less than £5,000. The result? Savings of £95,000 and one very happy client!

Without a properly detailed specification in place, asbestos removal contractor’s prices will be based on what they believe needs doing, not what the duty holder needs doing.

Vintec can manage the whole removal process for you, from writing the removal specification, through to post-removal inspection and Air Monitoring.

Before compiling a specification, we take time to speak to the duty holder

To find out:

  • What the end goal of the project is
  • Any budgetary constraints
  • Any difficulties that may be encountered by the asbestos removal contractor, so contingency plans can be made and costed
  • How the works can be programmed to minimise operational disruption to the building
  • Whether adjacent ACMs can be included in the scope of works (mobilisation costs make up a significant portion of the costs so maximising what the removal contractor can do whilst on site is crucial to achieve best value)

A well thought out removal specification, written by an experienced asbestos professional will ensure that your project stays on time and on budget.

For more information on compiling asbestos removal specifications or to discuss an upcoming project, call the Vintec team on 01923 664411. We’d love to help you minimise your costs and achieve your removal objectives.

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