Asbestos Survey Leeds

ASBESTOS SURVEY LEEDS – Our local survey experience

People looking for contractors and consultants naturally favour a local company who know the ins and outs of the area and its businesses. Ranson Surveying originated in Leeds and we have decades of experience of the city, its housing stock, and commercial / industrial buildings. There are too many past examples for us to mention here of surveys we’ve carried out in the city, but here are a few we remember:

Dozens of different schools for The Red Kite Learning Trust, Brigshaw Learning Partnership and Dales Academy Trust.

Multiple prestigious offices on Park Square, central Leeds.

Several large portfolios of student properties in Hyde Park and Headingley.

6 St Peters Square – Including The Wardrobe venue / nightclub.

J Tomlinson’s builders yard in Holbeck.

New Ellington Hotel in central Leeds.

St Patricks Church on Rider Street.

DC Woodhead engineers in Pudsey.

Taycare Medical in Wortley.

Manor House care home in Farnley.

Various units on Whitehall industrial estate.

2 funeral homes in Pudsey for Jayne Verity funeral directors

Future Energy Group in Horsforth.

Leeds Montessori School in Chapel Allerton.

West Riding county football association HQ.

Pudsey Transport Ltd.

Stinky’s Peephouse nightclub.

Holiday Inn Leeds East.

St Matthews CE Primary, Chapel Allerton.

PDQ printers, Morley.

CF Steads tannery, Scott Hall.

KD Carpets, Horsforth.

Eagle golf centre, Harehills.

Morley United Services WMC.

TF Smith car repair unit, Armley.

St Oswald’s CE Primary, Guiseley.

And the list goes on!

We also have a lot of experience with the various different council house types across the city, including several system-built “prefab” houses such as the “Airey” and “Levett Cartwright” types.


Why do I need an Asbestos Survey?

As an asbestos survey consultancy, we come across many and varied different reasons why our clients need their properties checking. The most common seems to be as part of a building’s sale. More and more lenders are asking for an asbestos survey before they will release mortgage funds. Re-mortgages also fall under the same umbrella of wary lenders – the last thing the bank wants is a surprise asbestos problem, as this can seriously affect a property’s value.

Major refurbishments are probably the second most common, as it’s necessary to ensure that the contractors are not disturbing any asbestos-containing materials during the works.

Health and safety audits are another common one on larger commercial and industrial sites. For these clients an asbestos management plan is required due to the large amount of ACMs often found on site, and in addition annual re-inspection surveys are often necessary.

Most councils and housing associations require that all their housing stock be checked, even though the legislation doesn’t strictly cover those type of properties unless a major refurb is underway.

Finally the full demolition of a building invariably demands a completely intrusive R&D survey to ensure that the structure can be dismantled safely. After the survey has identified any ACMs, these must all be removed by a licensed asbestos removal contractor before demolition can be carried out.


Asbestos Survey Reports – Which type do I need?

If you have any questions regarding which type of asbestos survey you may require for your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us and a member of staff will happily go through your requirements. Asbestos survey reports from Ranson Surveying are designed to be laid out as simply as possible, and to be easy for the layperson to read and understand. The main details about the asbestos risk within the property are laid out within the document – information such as location, type and risk of ACMs, along with recommendations on how to proceed. The document will also include the vital photographs and highlighted floor plans which allow the ACMs to be easily identified and located. These details are then clearly available for the use of building contractors, asbestos removal contractors and other workers involved in refurbishment or demolition work on the property in question. 


Asbestos Survey Types

We commonly carry out the two main asbestos survey types for our clients, in accordance with the legislation. In the UK these rules are set out by the HSE in their publications: HSG 264 - Asbestos: The Survey Guide, and HSE 248 – Asbestos: The Analysts Guide. These 2 types are known as the:

1 – Asbestos Management Surveys (the standard survey, predominantly non-intrusive). These used to be known as “Type 2 surveys”.

2 – Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition Surveys (formerly called “Type 3 surveys”). Carried out prior to major refurbishment works or building demolition, these fully intrusive surveys aim to find all ACMs - even those hidden by the building’s structure.

Other services offered by us at Ranson Surveying include Asbestos Sampling, Asbestos Re-inspections, Asbestos Air-testing and Asbestos Consultancy, along with advice on any asbestos removal works which may need to be carried out.


Asbestos Management Surveys

Asbestos management surveys (previously referred to as “Type 2 Asbestos Surveys”) are the standard survey which is carried out so that the relevant Duty Holder can comply with the in order to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, and applies to all non-domestic premises in the UK. They’re often carried out for property sales as well as for many other reasons. These surveys are in the main non-intrusive, and usually involve taking samples of suspect materials. The samples are passed along to a UKAS-accredited lab who can analyse the presence of asbestos, and specifically which type.

The report will also ascertain what type of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are present in the property in question, their position and amount, and the risks represented by these. It will also supply guidance and recommendations for the Duty Holder so that they may comply with the relevant safety legislation. For those who are commissioning an asbestos survey for the purposes of facilities  management, or to create an asbestos register for the purposes of building insurance / compliance, this type of survey is correct.

More info on Asbestos Management Surveys - Link.


Asbestos Refurbishment/Demolition Surveys

Asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition surveys (formerly known as “Type 3 Asbestos surveys”)  are required by law to be undertaken on buildings which are due to undergo major refurbishment works, or completely demolished to make way for new development. Also often called “Asbestos R&D Surveys”, construction industry professionals such as architects, chartered surveyors and builders who carry out all types of fit-outs and strip-out works are obliged to organise this specialist type of survey before commencing the actual works themselves, for obvious Health and Safety reasons – to protect the workers and the current occupants of the building. In addition to the detail regarding Asbestos R&D Surveys found within HSG264 (HSE manual)  and the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, further relevant stipulations are laid out in the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015.

The intention of this type of survey is to examine the building in question for ACMs (asbestos containing materials), in order for these to be identified and quantified precisely. Any ACMs can then be so as these can be safely managed, or if necessary removed in a safe manner before any refurbishment or demolition works commence. The vast majority of building types are affected by this legislation, whether they be regardless function or size – be they industrial, residential, commercial, or even mixed use. Even domestic properties are covered in this case, as opposed to the legislation for management surveys which doesn’t cover them.

Again as opposed to the standard management surveys, asbestos Refurbishment / Demolition surveys are fully intrusive. Hence some level of damage is almost always likely to occur to building elements in order for the surveyor to access elements that ware within the fabric of the property itself. Due to this significant factor, these surveys are most often carried out in empty properties or a vacant section of a building. In addition, full understanding of the process should be agreed with the property occupants and/or owners before the work can be carried out.

More info on Asbestos R&D Surveys – Link.


What is Asbestos?

The word asbestos is commonly used when describing a group of quartz-like minerals in two families – amphibole (straight crystals) and serpentine (curved crystals). Every type is considered dangerous, with long-term exposure resulting in a wide range of terminal diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma

Asbestos was such a commonly used material due to several amazing properties it possesses. It’s a strong, heat and chemical resistant, naturally fibrous mineral, and it gives these beneficial properties to any building materials which it is a part of, Along with its amazing durability, it was particularly found to have extreme fire and heat resistant properties. For this reason it is particularly useful in fireproof products such as firebreaks, insulating boards etc.

It is almost always true that any building constructed between 1950 and 1999 will have asbestos containing materials within its structure, and ACMs were banned in the UK in 1999. Previously however during the 1970’s and 80s’, doctors and other health professionals had eventually worked out that asbestos was responsible for negatively impacting the physical health of many people who were exposed to it, whether at work or in the home. The most harmful incidents of asbestos exposure usually occur when asbestos-containing materials are damaged. Any damage to the integrity of the material causes the release of many small fibres into the air.

These asbestos fibres are then inhaled quite easily into the lungs, and can then go on to cause possibly severe medical issues. Risk levels depend on such things as the amount of asbestos in the air, and how often and for how long exposure occurs. Other important factors include whether the person smokes, how much time has passed since exposure occurred, and whether the person already has any existing lung problems. Asbestos is a carcinogen and causes mesothelioma - a rare cancer in the chest and abdomen, plus cancers of the lung or larynx. Other consequences include asbestosis, kidney cancer, and gastrointestinal tract cancer.


What does an Asbestos Survey set out to do?

All commercial, residential and industrial properties, structures built from around 1950 all the way up to 1999 are likely to contain asbestos is some form, and thus to pose some level of risk to people who live or work inside. Additionally any older building which has been refurbished during this time period is still likely to contain asbestos-containing materials. Legislation within the United Kingdom demands that all non-domestic properties constructed before 2000 have an asbestos register, which is a document found within the usual asbestos survey report. This document is invariably needed for the building’s sale, occupation, refurbishment or demolition. Such survey work is also often required for health and safety reasons should people be working within or living in a property.

Essentially and clearly, the purpose of the asbestos surveyor’s work is to access all areas of a property in order to fully identify, categorize, quantify and risk assess all asbestos-containing materials within. Despite not being able to accurately name the types of asbestos within ACMs on site, any good surveyor will have sufficient knowledge of suspect materials to be able to spot them by eye. Examples could include cement or insulating board, gaskets, textured ceiling coatings or floor tiles. After a suspect material has been noted and recorded, a sample of sufficient size for lab analysis will be taken by the surveyor under controlled conditions. The samples are later passed to a UKAS-accredited laboratory in order to be identified accurately using a polarized light microscope. Once the information is recorded, the ACMs are then safely disposed of as Special Waste.


Types of asbestos

While carrying out works on a building, the main 3 forms of asbestos that which might be found include:

  • Crocidolite (blue asbestos). This type has very thin fibres which are are easily lodged in the lungs if they are breathed in. This factor along with its brittleness mean that it is the very most dangerous type of asbestos. It easily splits resulting in fibre release, thus leading to exposure to anyone in the immediate area.
  • Amosite (brown asbestos).  This is a very tough and heat-resistant type of asbestos that was often formed into cement sheet and insulation products. All asbestos types are toxic but amosite often seems to result in a higher risk of cancer. It was mainly mined in Africa.
  • Chrysotile (white asbestos). This is the most frequently found variety of asbestos and its fibres are very fine and curly in texture with high levels of flexibility and heat resistant. This means that it’s excellent for such products as cement, brake pads/linings roofing materials, floor tiles and textured coatings.


Types of asbestos-containing materials

Asbestos was mainly used in the construction industry as roofing material, heat-resistant insulation and pipe lagging. This was prior to it being banned in the United Kingdom (the very dangerous stuff in 1984 and the rest in 1999). Therefore the material is often found near to pipework and boilers, as insulating panels to structural areas and very often as roofing materials particularly on commercial and industrial buildings.

At a rough estimate 6,000,000 tons of asbestos-containing materials was used within buildings during the last century. Composite materials were also used in internal/external cladding and coatings. It often takes the form of cement sheets, sprayed coatings or rope /textiles plus a wide variety of other products. During the time period from the 1950s to the 1990s there was hardly a single building constructed in the UK that didn’t have asbestos within its structure in one form or another.

Here follows a list of the most common types of asbestos-containing materials, their uses, and which type of asbestos was commonly found in each. They are roughly ranked in order of risk, with the most dangerous materials being at the top:


Loose-fill insulation – Often in floor voids, wall cavities and loft spaces of industrial, commercial and domestic buildings. Usually Amosite/Crocidolite and Chrysotile.

Sprayed coating - Thermal and anti-condensation insulation applied to the undersides of roofs, sides of industrial buildings. Acoustic insulation for theatres and concert halls. Fire proofing for steels, concrete beams/columns and to underside of concrete floors and carpark ceilings. Usually Amosite/Crocidolite and Chrysotile.

Packing within floor voids, packing in cable trays, mattresses and quilts for thermal insulation. Paper bags/sacks filled for sound insulation in floors and walls. Usually Chrysotile.

Thermal Insulation -   Hand applied insulation to pipe work, vessels, boilers, calorifiers etc. Pre-formed pipe sections, slabs and blocks. Usually Amosite/Crocidolite and Chrysotile.

Insulating board - A general building board used for fire protection, thermal and acoustic insulation as firebreaks, linings to steels, infill panels above doors and below windows, external canopies, soffits, porch linings and found in service ducts. Also as partition walls, internal ceilings, ceiling tiles, as packers to windows and steels and is resistant to moisture movement. Usually Amosite/Crocidolite and Chrysotile.

Millboard - Insulation for electrical and plant equipment, general heat insulation and fire protection. Usually Amosite and Chrysotile.

Textile cloth - Thermal insulation and lagging, jointing and packing materials, flash guards within electrical fuse boxes, protective clothing, oven gloves and curtains. Also used within various bitumen, reinforced plastic and resin composites. Usually Chrysotile.

Textile rope - Used as lagging to pipes, jointing and packing materials, heat/fire resistant boiler, oven and flue sealing, plaited asbestos tubing in electrical cables, caulking to brickwork and sealing of electrical fuse boxes. Usually Chrysotile.

Textile gaskets - Used widely in commercial, industrial and domestic plant and pipe systems. Ranging from gas pipes, hot water boilers, chemical plant and power stations. Usually Chrysotile.

Paper - Used as backing to PVC floor vinyl, felts and bitumen products, combustible boards and laminate flooring. Also and heat insulation for electrical equipment, plus within air conditioning as acoustic insulation. Usually Chrysotile.

Semi-compressed flat sheets – bath panels, walls and ceilings, soffits. Usually Chrysotile.

Friction composites - Used as brakes and clutch plates within the transport industry, machinery and lifts. Usually Chrysotile.

Cement - Profiled sheets used as roofs, wall cladding, permanent shuttering. Usually Chrysotile.

Pre–formed moulded products and extruded products – cable trays, cisterns and tanks, flue pipes, rainwater goods, window sills and boxes. Usually Chrysotile.

Fully compressed sheets – laboratory worktops, roof tiles & slates, board cladding. Usually Chrysotile.

Textured coatings -    Decorative and flexible coatings to walls and ceilings used internally and externally. Usually Chrysotile. Flooring - Thermoplastic floor tiles, PVC vinyl floor tiles. Usually Chrysotile.

Composite plastics -   Toilet cisterns and seats, banisters, stair treads, skirting, window sills, lab bench tops. Usually Chrysotile.

Bitumen - Roofing felts and shingles, gutter linings and flashings, damp proof course, coatings to metal, mastics and adhesives, bitumen roofing. Usually Chrysotile.


The history of UK Asbestos Legislation

The ongoing usage of the material as an efficient, strong, cheap and extremely effective solution to many different material problems went on almost all the way to the end of the 20th century. In 1969 the initial Asbestos Regulations mainly concentrated on reduced the contact of workers with ACMs, but this can be seen as the first stage in stating that the fibres were deemed an actual risk to workers themselves. Over a decade later the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations (1983) eventually came to light. This legislation and regulations stipulated that an HSE (Health and Safety Executive) licence was now required going forwards for any company whose staff were intended to carry out work with or near to asbestos-containing materials.

During the latter half of the 20th Century, the process of identifying the effects of and subsequently bringing about relevant safety legislation was a very slow one. Industries that imported and used asbestos in the form of ACMs were on a huge scale and the economic significance of a potential ban was enormous. This was reflected in the reluctance of many firms to pay attention to an ever-increasing wealth of evidence showing that continued exposure to asbestos was a danger to their workers. An example of this was the thousands of employees in heavy industry such as mills, construction, shipyards and rail, where such vital information for health was hidden by the bosses, with the deadly effects only to be felt by the employees and their families decades later.

In the year 1985 in the UK, legislation was passed which represented the initial attempt of government to outlaw the use of amphibole asbestos (the brown and blue types with straight crystal shapes), also known as the 1985 UK Asbestos Regulations. Eventually in 1999 the importation and usage of chrysotile (white with curly fibres) asbestos finally saw a total ban, so effectively this white asbestos was still in use until the turn of the century in common products such as cement roof sheets, artex ceilings and thermoplastic floor tiles. Unfortunately due to the long time period from exposure to symptom appearance for many of the asbestos-related diseases, the asbestos death rate has been continually increasing over the years up until approximately 2010, with over 50,000 deaths annually attributed to mesothelioma and the like.

The year 2002 in the industry saw legislation introduced which applied specifically to the “Duty Holder” of a property in regards to asbestos, the aim of which was to limit exposure to asbestos for workers in said premises. A year later the licensing regulations for asbestos removal were updated to introduce a 14 day notification period to the HSE regarding any major works with the more dangerous asbestos types. This was implemented in order for there to be a real possibility that any such works be subject to a surprise visit from the Health and Safety Executive.


Leeds Industry and its development through the years.

After the time of the Industrial Revolution the small town of Leeds quickly grew in population to almost 160,000 by the middle of the 19th Century. The soon to become city’s rapid growth was fuelled by excellent new canal and rail links to the rest of the country, and by 1893 was granted official city status. Its most vital industries included textiles, machinery manufacture, chemical works and leather tannery, all powered by coal extracted in the area. After the turn of the 20th century furher development followed with the construction of major university and hospital sites. Industry in general declined after World War 2 as in many other northern cities, but was replaced by a plethora of innovative tertiary industries. Leeds itself is now generally regarded as the successful capital of the large region of West Yorkshire.


One of the new industries which found a home in Leeds in the latter half of the 20th Century was that of asbestos processing and manufacture of ACMs. The most famous of these was at the site owned by Turner and Newall’s in Armley, which unfortunately resulted in the contamination with asbestos dust of a large area consisting of over 1000 houses and the surrounding streets. This disaster was caused by the local asbestos factory, and took place from 1900 until the closure of the factory in around 1960. Over 400 of the firm’s previous employees died from asbestos-related illnesses, along with many other suspiciously related deaths in and around the Armley district.



In conclusion, here at Ranson Surveying we’re confident that we are very well positioned to offer the best in asbestos surveys and consultancy across the city of Leeds area, and throughout the surrounding West Yorkshire region. Our decades of hands-on practical survey experience specifically in these local areas means that we know the predominant building types extremely well, and we’re confident that our clients will receive an excellent service from start to finish. Please see our Google reviews from a sample of our happy customers: Click here!


Don't just take our word for it, see what our clients say...

Rodney Knox

Have had a great experience. Had an urgent need to get a survey done for a mortgage application. Fast and helpful response, which was very competitively priced. I'd happy recommend to others.

Laura Robotham

Dom fit us in at pretty short notice and conducted our asbestos survey. The findings were thorough and the whole thing was handled professionally. Cheers.

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