On this page:
- What Should I Expect When Requesting Estimates?
- Do I Need to Hire a Professional to Remove Asbestos?
- What Affects the Cost of Asbestos Repair and Removal?
- How Do the Details Affect the Price Asbestos Removal?
- Planning for Asbestos Removal
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
Asbestos is a fiber commonly used in residential construction materials prior to the 1980s, such as insulation, vinyl flooring, wall and ceiling texture products, siding, shingles, and heat resistant hearth and wallboard. Inhalation of the fibers can lead to lung disease, so the use of asbestos began to decline in the 1970s and is now largely prohibited, though asbestos-containing materials are still present in many homes.
Asbestos fibers present a danger when airborne, so as long as asbestos-containing materials are undisturbed and stable there may be no need to treat or remove the products. However, the degradation of problematic materials or disruption during renovations can create a risk to residents and workers in the home. Special measures must be taken to handle and dispose of asbestos safely, so the job is required by law in many places to be handled by qualified professionals. The process of managing asbestos is referred to as “abatement” and there are several factors that will affect the cost of asbestos removal.
What Should I Expect When Requesting Estimates for Asbestos Removal?
There are several steps involved in identifying and dealing with asbestos, so you may be working with at least two professionals or contractors through the process. For starters, it is essential to correctly identify suspect materials to determine if asbestos is even present and to determine what procedures are needed to minimize or eliminate any hazard. If asbestos is an issue, you will need to work with an abatement contractor to handle the material. However, since the abatement process can be lengthy and expensive, there’s no sense in making assumptions and paying for a professional service you don’t really need. The initial inspection and lab testing could cost $200 to $500, but it’s worth the investment to know for sure what you are dealing with. A similar inspection should follow abatement procedures to ensure the asbestos is under control, so expect a similar charge then as well.
The actual work involved in asbestos abatement depends on the type, condition, and volume of material involved, so an abatement contractor will need to make a first-hand assessment of the job in order to plan and price what will be required. Managing asbestos is generally handled through either removal or repair. Either process requires workers to wear protective gear and follow specific safety measures while working. Removal involves preparing the area for demolition by running air filters and often wetting materials to reduce airborne dust, then securely packaging waste with approved methods for disposal. Repair, on the other hand, leaves asbestos-containing materials in place, but minimizes the risk of exposure by stabilizing the material through encapsulation or containment. Either method, or a combination of them, may be used, depending on the characteristics of the job.
Many pros charge a minimum fee to handle asbestos regardless of the scale of the job. Since sealing work areas and the use of filtration equipment and protective gear is required for every project, the cost of basic initial setup is the same for the contractor at every job. This fixed overhead must be accounted for, even on small removal or repair projects, and could amount to $500 or more. Beyond that, the job may be priced as a whole, by the square foot, or by time and materials depending on the scale and scope of the project and the methods used. Rates for the work range widely, from as little as $2 per square foot to as much as $40, or from $100 to $400 per hour, depending on the features of the job and the size of the crew.
Do I Need to Hire a Professional to Remove Asbestos?
Does Asbestos Pose a Threat in Your Home?
Although asbestos may be a component in some building materials in your home, it may not be necessary to treat or remove the products if they are in good condition with the fibers stable. In some situations, you may be able to leave the product in place or cover it with new material, such as flooring, paint, or texture. In order to determine if this is appropriate though, it is essential to have the materials examined and tested by a pro before deciding how to proceed.
The Nature of the Job
If you need to have asbestos removed, it is generally recommended to hire a qualified expert to do the work. Not only do pros have ready access to the equipment and gear needed to handle the job safely, they have received training specific to the task. In addition to the health and safety benefits of leaving the job to an appropriate contractor, local laws typically require this type of work to be completed by a licensed and insured professional. If in locations where homeowners are permitted to do the work on their own, the practice is often frowned upon by insurance companies, inspectors, and potential buyers who like to have evidence that the job was carried out correctly and with some oversight.
What Affects the Cost of Asbestos Repair and Removal?
Supply and Demand
In addition to variances in the cost of labor, your location may have a significant influence on the cost of dealing with asbestos. If you live in a place where there is an established market for this type of work you will probably find multiple providers to bid on the job, and thus better rates than in locations where there is less demand for the service. Large cities and areas with many old buildings are likely to yield a better opportunity for competitive pricing than younger or less developed areas.
Playing by the Rules
The local regulations in your area are also a factor; the cost of procuring permits, disposing of waste, and having inspections can be higher in places with strict regulations and oversight than in locations with more flexible requirements.
How Do the Details Affect the Price of Asbestos Removal?
The Size and Scope of the Job
The overall size of the job or amount of material to treat or remove is one of the primary influences on the cost of the job. Simply put, the larger the area is to seal off and navigate, the more effort will be required to get the work done efficiently. Likewise, costs will go up with the amount of material that needs to be handled, no matter what it is or what type of surface it is found on. If your project involves a single surface in one room of your home, it could cost less than $1,000, while remediation of multiple surfaces throughout an entire home could cost tens of thousands.
The Materials Involved
The type of materials that need to be removed from your home will be a factor in the difficulty and demands of the job since the time and effort needed for the work varies with building materials. For example, removing wall or ceiling texture can typically be completed quicker than pulling up floor tiles or stripping the exterior walls or the roof of a house. So, even if the square footage two rooms may be the same, it could cost three or four times as much to remove flooring from one than ceiling texture from the other.
The Methods Used
The condition of the asbestos-containing materials in your home will help determine if the material can be contained or encapsulated in place or if it should be removed entirely. Although some of the basic prep work for each method is the same, it is generally much less expensive to stabilize material in place than it is to remove it. Encapsulation isn’t practical for some materials though, even if they are in good shape, so be sure to get recommendations from a few different pros if you aren’t sure of the best way to proceed. Keep in mind that coating materials to leave in place, such as pipe insulation, may be less costly in the short term, but could lead to higher repair expenses in the future if it becomes necessary to make changes or upgrades that will disrupt the material.
Planning for Asbestos Removal
Do Your Homework
Before plunging into an abatement project (or before assuming you don’t need to do one), confirm or disprove the presence of an asbestos hazard through a professional inspection and lab test. Be sure to hire an inspector that is not affiliated with any abatement contractor to be assured of an objective evaluation. If there is cause for concern, get recommendations about your options for treating material that may be unstable or pose a threat in the foreseeable future. Find out what local codes require for the handling and disposal of asbestos so you can remain in compliance with the laws in your area. If your state requires licensing or certification of asbestos abatement contractors, check with the agency or department responsible for environmental affairs to find providers or to verify the credentials of one you may hire.
It can be alarming to learn of an asbestos issue in your home that needs correction, and hiring for a highly regulated project like this can be intimidating. Remember that even though abatement contractors may require specialized equipment, skills, and licensing, they are still independent operators and you have the right to choose the company that performs the work. When looking for a pro to do the job, don’t be rushed into hiring the first company you find; request estimates from several contractors and compare their proposals. Choose the contractor you are most comfortable with and who will use the most appropriate methods for the job.
Some asbestos abatement projects can be extremely disruptive, though it isn’t always necessary to vacate the house while the work is underway. If your contractor recommends you do though, or if it just seems simpler to stay out of the way, be sure to plan for the extra expense of a hotel stay or eating out, or even the inconvenience of an altered commute or routine.
|$600 – $1,500||$5,600 - $12,000||$14,000 - $32,000|
Due to the nature of the job, no two asbestos containment or removal projects are alike. You will need a local pro to give you an accurate estimate of the cost of handling the work on your home, but comparing a few examples may help you plan for your own project.
A Small-Scale Cleanup: $600 - $1,500
- • Location of Material: Managing asbestos used in ceiling texture materials is a common project. Though the work is limited to the ceiling, extensive masking and sealing is required to prevent the material traveling throughout the home.
- • Size of the Job: A ceiling of about 150 square feet keeps this job on the small side, but comparable to many typical rooms.
- • Methods Used: The most effective way to manage ceiling texture is typically removal, which involves wetting the surface, scraping off the texture, and collecting and disposing of the material.
An Interior Update: $5,600 - $12,000
- • Location of Material: Ceiling texture, flooring tiles, and attic insulation are removed in this example, making for a wide scope of work.
- • Size of the Job: In this example, the entire living space of a 1,200 square foot home is affected, as well as the attic. Though the area is relatively large, the job is simplified by the ability to move throughout the house easily since the entire structure is involved.
- • Methods Used: With the number of surfaces and types of materials involved, removal is a practical method for this application. The process is manual, making it labor intensive and time consuming.
Inside and Out: $14,000 - $32,000
- • Location of Material: In addition to floors, ceilings, and the attic indoors, this project involves the siding on the exterior of the home.
- • Size of the Job: Adding the surface area of the exterior walls to the 1,200 square feet of living space and the attic, this job exceeds 3,500 square feet of work area.
- • Methods Used: On top of standard methods used inside, working from ladders and staging outdoors to remove the siding adds a significant amount of time to the job. This type of work goes slower than standard demolition work, since materials must be handled carefully to prevent releasing asbestos fibers into the outdoor air.
Level of Difficulty
Safe handling of asbestos for removal or containment requires some training, protective equipment and clothing, and approved disposal methods. With proper education and safety measures, some types of asbestos management can be done by an intermediate to advanced do-it-yourselfer where permitted, but hazardous environments and large-scale jobs are best handled by a licensed pro. Before considering the option of sealing or removing asbestos-containing materials yourself, check into the legal requirements and disposal options where you live.