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All you need to know about asbestos roofing

Top down image of a detached garage following its asbestos garage roof removal and new garage roof installation

If you’re a business or a homeowner worried about asbestos in your roof or garage roof, you’ve found the right article to get yourself filled in. Here we’ll discuss exactly what asbestos is and why it is so dangerous. Furthermore, we’ll discuss why asbestos was used in the first place and why the government chose to outlaw the practice of using it for garage roofs. After this, we’ll discuss the VSF garage replacement process and how we dispose of asbestos to proper health and safety standards before looking at some of the designs available for your garage roof replacement. Finally, we’ll touch on some of the tax benefits provided for businesses which remove asbestos from their commercial properties.

Before image prior to a garage refurbishment and roof replacement, showing an old and worn garage
Top down image of a detached garage prior to its asbestos garage roof removal and new garage roof installation
This is a before refurbishment image of a garage refurbishment and garage roof replacement
Before replacement image of an apex and flat garage roof
Before garage refurbishment and garage roof replacement image of an old garage
Before refurbishment picture of the garage, with brown electric door, white fascias and white galvanized steel roof
An image of an old garage with a door, windows and fascias in need of replacing. Fascias have begun to fall off around the garage side door

Asbestos

 

What is asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used in construction work during the 20th century. It is a combination of six naturally occurring minerals.  The qualities of asbestos mean that the flexible fibres are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. While such resistance clearly provides useful applications, unfortunately asbestos exposure is highly toxic.

 

What was asbestos used for?

 

Before the dangers of asbestos became known, it was used in thousands of consumer and industrial products all around the world. This includes automotive parts, tiles, cement, textiles, cigarette filters and talcum powder.

 

Why was asbestos used in garage roofs?

 

The industrial revolution introduced widespread use of asbestos in the construction industry, which was further increased in the post-World War Two era, where there was a heightened demand for cheap and effective housing solutions. Asbestos has been previously dubbed as an “honour to humanity” and “magic mineral”, titles which have since been rescinded following a greater understanding of the harmful characteristics of the minerals. Asbestos was an immensely popular choice for garage roofing given its cheap, waterproof, and fire-retardant qualities. In addition, asbestos is also able to withstand erosion and decay.

 

Why is asbestos harmful?

 

Asbestos becomes harmful once airborne, and there is no known way to reverse the damages that asbestos inhalation causes. Mesothelioma, which is a rare and particularly aggressive type of cancer, is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is also known to be the primary cause of asbestosis, a progressive lung disease, and pleural thickening of the lung. The carcinogenic nature of the minerals which make asbestos up is what makes it harmful. Asbestos is the number one cause of work-related deaths and sadly, over 90,000 people die each year globally, with asbestos exposure being the primary cause of death.

 

Why was asbestos used if it was harmful?

 

The negative health benefits of asbestos were not known for many years and had many benefits as a material. The primary benefit of asbestos was that is a very good thermal insulator and so increase the energy efficiency of buildings.  Additionally, it is highly resistant to fire so doesn’t burn easily and forms a strong material when mixed with concrete. When the dangers of asbestos surfaced, the importation, supply and use of asbestos was banned in the UK and many countries around the world.

 

When did the UK stop using asbestos?

 

Following the discovery of health concerns, the importation, supply and use of asbestos was banned in the UK and many countries around the world. Asbestos was officially banned in the UK in 1999 but had begun being phased out before this point. The phase out began in the 1980s and around this time even some older buildings began to have asbestos removed.

How can I tell if my garage roof contains asbestos?

 

Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999. As a result, if your garage is installed after this date then it can be a clear sign it is free from asbestos. Also worth mention is that asbestos was being phased out from the 1980s so not all pre-1999 garages will contain it. If it does contain asbestos, then it isn’t immediately harmful if the roofing isn’t cracked. However, the age of the roof is likely to make it prone to damage which would make it worth inspection.

 

Another other way to check is to inspect the surface of your roofing material. When checking, if cement sheets contain small dimples or craters on the surface, it could be because of the presence of asbestos. Equally, a corrugated roof that snaps, rather than crumbles like cement fibre cane be a sign. Do not test this, but if your garage roof is suffering from cracks or is breaking apart, this is an indication that it could be asbestos.

 

The final sign would be batch codes on the underside of the roof (containing AC, as opposed to CE or C). Bear in mind however that batch codes may have disappeared over time.

This is an example of an old garage before a new garage installation by VSF, with a garage roof that is worn and in serious need of replacement
An image of an old garage before its refurbishment, with fascias, garage roof and side door all looking in need of replacing

Why should I remove asbestos from my roof?

 

Whilst asbestos in your garage roof or roof of your commercial building may not be immediately harmful if it is not cracked, it is still recommended to have it removed. If the roof is aged, then cracks are likely to start showing soon. Furthermore, if you have people regularly using the building then there is the potential for somebody to accidentally snap it and release fibres into the air.

An image of a detached garage refurbishment, with galvanized steel garage roof replacement and reinforced side door
An example of one of VSF's new garage installations, with the garage roof white galvanized steel, electric garage door and pebble dash exterior

What can I do about asbestos in my garage roof?

 

Due to the significant health risks asbestos poses, we strongly recommend you hire an expert to remove it for you. If you try to do it yourself and end up damaging it whilst doing so, dangerous particles can be released into the air. Breathing these particles in can cause serious illnesses, as mentioned above. This is much more likely to occur with older garage roofs that have had years of natural wear. Neighbours should be advised to shut their windows and doors whilst the asbestos is being removed as the particulates can become airborne and you do not want to be responsible for harming your neighbours’ health.

VSF’s garage roof replacement process

 

Here at VSF we have three simple steps for conducting our garage roof replacements:

 

  1. We will contact you via telephone to arrange a mutually convenient time to carry out a technical survey at your property. This allows us to arrive on the installation date, with everything we’ll need. An installation date with then be arranged with one of our approved installers.
  2. On the installation date, we will just need access to the garage. If you choose to go out, we can call you in advance of the work being finished to reduce any inconvenience. All work will be carried out in line with all Risk Assessment Method Statement specific to your installation.
  3. Following your installation, paperwork will be issues by email as standard (paper versions can be requested upon request). Your paperwork will contain a final invoice highlighting the balance has been paid in full, with a breakdown of each payment, some maintenance tips and your asbestos removal certificate if applicable.

 

It is worth noting that if you have a commercial property then the job could take longer than a day. This is simply due to many commercial buildings being much larger in size than a residential garage. Despite this, VSF will always target a 1-day turnaround to minimise disruptions to your business.

An image of the VSF Head Office in Bury
This is an example of the old garage before VSF conducted a new garage installation at the site
This image is an example of one of our new garage installations, with a pebble dash finish and white garage roof and door
An image of the VSF storage unit

How is asbestos removed and disposed of?

 

  1. Some precautions must first be made before an asbestos garage roof can be removed. We first will ask neighbours to close any doors and windows whilst the work is carried out to further reduce the likelihood of any asbestos particulates entering their homes.
  2. Whilst the work is carried out, all VSF staff will stick to proper health and safety procedures to ensure no risk to you or themselves.
  3. Once the asbestos is removed, it will be moved into vehicles specifically designed for the removal of asbestos. These vehicles are compliant with all environmental and safety regulations.
  4. The asbestos is disposed of at a designated waste centre. Once the asbestos is disposed of, the VSF asbestos removal specialists will be provided with a certificate confirming the disposal. This certificate will then be provided to you on completion of the disposal.

Designs and materials for your new garage roof

 

Materials

 

As standard, we use Plasticol Coated Galvanized steel box profiling sheets for our garage roofs. These roof sheets prevent weathering and keeps your garage roof maintenance free. They have a modern appearance, as well as having a wide range of benefits for garage roofing. They also come in a wide range of colours, so you’ll be sure to find one that suits your taste. These roofs have a specialized felt backing installed to the underside of the roofing sheets. This helps to prevent and trap any condensation that may occur during the colder months. As standard the roofing also comes with uPVC facias and water goods.

 

Another option for your garage roof is rubber garage roofs. At VSF we use the high quality EDPM Firestone Rubber garage roofing, renowned for being the best on the market. Rubber garage roofs can last up to 50 years, they’re low maintenance, watertight and extremely durable; everything you need your garage roof to be.

 

Designs

 

There are a variety of designs available for your garage roof. Which you choose is likely to be influenced by several factors. The visual appeal is an obvious consideration but equally as important is drainage and the position of your garage.

 

Pent garage roofs are a popular option as they are close to flat but are higher at one end to increase the flow of water across the top. As a result of the increased flow, they help to reduce the likelihood of leaking.

 

Lean-to garage roofs are a common option for garages connected to your housing. This roof type has a singular sloped roof fixed at a higher point on the wall.

 

The final option we’ll discuss here are dual-pitch garage roofs. This type of garage roof has the typical look of a roof, with two sloped sides meeting at the top. This type of roof has been growing in popularity due to the aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, this garage roof typically will have a concrete or tiled front and back.

This is in an example of a one of our garage refurbishments, with pebble dash coating, galvanized steel garage roof and doors and fascias in white
Firestone EDPM logo image bottom aligned
Top down image of a detached garage following its asbestos garage roof removal and new garage roof installation
An example of one of VSF's new garage installations, with the garage roof white galvanized steel, electric garage door and pebble dash exterior

Support for businesses

 

Support for commercial buildings

 

Due to the negative health benefits of asbestos, the government has incentivised the removal from roofing. Previously, the government had offered a grant package. However, this scheme finished around 2018. Despite this, the government continue to offer tax benefits to businesses which will have this removed. The primary tax benefit offered by the government is a 150% tax relief for businesses which have incurred any expenses on “land remediation”. Land remediation in short is the removal of harmful contaminants from land. This includes any buildings on that land!

 

In other words, if you remove the asbestos from a building which your business owns then you can remove 150% of the cost from your tax bill. For example, if you spent £5000 removing asbestos from your building, then you could remove £7500 from your tax. When you consider that there are already health benefits for removing this already, this is a massive bonus.

 

There are other expenses which may be associated with the asbestos removal, like landfill tax and surveys of the land. Fortunately, the government includes within the claim an additional 50% of the actual cost of the asbestos removal to cover these costs. This could increase your removed tax cost to 200%.

 

If you’re wondering if there are any requirements for a business to make a claim, the answer is yes. The business must be a UK registered company and mustn’t have been the original polluter of the land. In other words, you must have bought the property with asbestos already installed.

 

 

Support for landlords

 

Landlords may also be able to make a claim like those for commercial buildings. If the landlord holds the property in a company rather than owning the property itself, then many of the above rules will still apply. This allows for a similar tax benefit to be reaped if the asbestos is removed from the property, whether that be the roof of the building or the asbestos garage roof.

 

How do I make a claim?

 

Tax relief is claimed via the tax return. Whilst the relief is very generous, the claims must be submitted properly to HRMC requirements. HRMC will require:

 

  • Details of all expenditure, including invoices.
  • Full list and details of labour and material costs.
  • Copies of surveys and environmental reports.
  • Confirmation that the land or building was acquired in a polluted state.
  • Asbestos validation reports and methodology of the removal or remediation.
This is in an example of a one of our garage refurbishments, with pebble dash coating, galvanized steel garage roof and doors and fascias in white
An example of one of VSF's new garage installations, with the garage roof white galvanized steel, electric garage door and pebble dash exterior
This is an after refurbishment image of a garage refurbishment, showing the new white garage door and white fascias
An image of a detached garage refurbishment, with galvanized steel garage roof replacement and reinforced side door

In conclusion, asbestos is an extremely useful material which would have been great if it wasn’t for all the negative health benefits associated with it. To dispose of the material safely and responsibly it is best to leave it to trained professionals who can remove the asbestos properly and ensure nobody is harmed. For a free quote, contact VSF who will be able advise on the process, whether that be a commercial or a residential property.

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