Asbestos is classified as a hazardous material, and it is also a known human carcinogen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.7 million people globally are diagnosed with cancer every year. The World Health Organization estimates that several thousand deaths annually can be linked to asbestos exposure at home. Similarly, over 50% of all occupational cancer-related deaths are caused by asbestos. Due to its hazardous nature, all work involving contact with asbestos in the United States is strictly regulated by a series of laws and regulations. As such, asbestos removal is best left to a professional duly trained and certified in safely handling this material.
Before you hire an asbestos removal contractor near you, it is always a good idea to ask specific questions. These questions ensure that there is minimal risk to your health by helping you to select the best contractor available:
Are You a Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractor?
According to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986, any individual that wishes to carry out asbestos-related jobs in the United States is required to be licensed. Specific licensing requirements vary from state to state, but they generally involve the contractor being at least 18 years old, completing a state or federal agency mandated training exercise, and passing a written exam. If your house was built before 1978, your contractor may also be required to have an additional certification on lead-safe work practices issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or an EPA-authorized state.
It is advised that you contact your local health and environmental protection department to determine the specific licensing requirements for your area of residence. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies also allows you to verify licenses online through its licensing information webpage.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Asbestos Removal Contractor?
According to data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 80 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses were recorded amongst hazardous materials removal workers in 2019. During this same period, 642 fatal occupational injuries attributed to exposure to harmful substances or environment were also recorded.
These figures serve to highlight the importance of working with contractors that are insured and bonded. Hiring a contractor near you that is insured protects you from any financial liabilities if some accidents and injuries occur during, or as a direct result of, your project. On the other hand, hiring a bonded contractor provides you with an additional layer of financial protection if your contractor fails to complete the project by ensuring that you are duly compensated.
Professional asbestos removal contractors are generally licensed and bonded. However, it is always a good idea to make sure that their insurance premiums are up to date and that they meet the bonding requirements of your area of residence. You should ask your contractor for copies of their insurance certificates and check to see that they are covered by general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. You can also contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the bonding requirements for your area.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
When hiring an asbestos removal contractor near you, it is important to hire the one that is adept in the type of work that is required. Asbestos work is generally grouped into three classes; Class I, Class II, and Class III.
Class I asbestos work involves the removal of asbestos that was used to prevent heat loss or heat gain and the addition of an outer layer to materials that either contain or are suspected to contain asbestos. Class II asbestos work involves the removal of non-thermal asbestos-containing materials. Class III asbestos work involves the repair and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials that are likely to be disturbed.
It is always a good idea to ask your contractor what type of asbestos work they are specialized in. Most asbestos removal jobs typically involve Class III work, so it is advisable that you hire a contractor that can properly repair any material or area that you remove asbestos from.
Who Will Do the Work?
The purpose of this question is to let you know exactly how many workers will be in your home during a project. Sometimes, a contractor may employ the services of a colleague or an apprentice to complete the job faster, if the job proves to be too much for one person. In some cases, your pre-project communication may have been with a firm, and not a particular individual. Either way, finding out the exact number of people that will be personally involved in your project is important. Make sure that you are provided with the names of any additional workers before they join the project, and ensure that they are all duly licensed and insured.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
A warranty refers to a written, oral, or implied guarantee given to a person who pays for a product, good, or service. Asbestos removal contractors typically provide a warranty of workmanship that guarantees that the asbestos in question has been properly removed in line with all health and safety standards. Such a warranty also guarantees that asbestos fibers have contaminated no other areas of the house. You should always ask contractors near you whether they provide warranties before hiring them and ensure to have these warranties issued in writing.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Due to the hazardous nature of asbestos, you are generally required to obtain a permit before carrying out any asbestos-related jobs. The process and requirements for obtaining these permits vary by state, county, and city. Hiring a professional asbestos removal contractor helps you with this process because they tend to be better informed on all the permits required for the job and the procedure for obtaining these permits. However, it is advisable that you contact the local building department office near you to find out these requirements for yourself. You can also contact your local health and environmental protection agency for this information.
Will You Provide References?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, any contractor that you intend to hire for a job should be able to provide you with at least three verifiable references. If an asbestos removal contractor cannot provide you with this information, then you should seriously consider looking for a different contractor.
You can also independently look up reviews of clients on your contractor online through websites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Better Business Bureau. These websites allow you to search for a contractor near you by name and read the opinions of other individuals that have had business dealings with them.
Do You Have a Business License?
Data published by the United States Small Business Administration suggests that small businesses make up 99.9% of all registered businesses in the country. Many asbestos removal firms and companies are considered small businesses, and they are required to have some form of licensing. Several areas have different requirements for obtaining a business license. For example, in the states of Texas, California, and Florida, businesses are expected to get a state-level license before they can legally operate. When you hire an asbestos removal contractor from a firm or company that is duly registered, you increase your chances of hiring a professional that is also properly licensed, insured, and bonded. You can contact your local Secretary of State's office to find out the requirements for obtaining a business license in your area of residence and to also verify the validity of any business license that an asbestos removal contractor presents to you.Â
What Are Common Asbestos Removal Problems?
Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance, and improperly handling it can lead to severe lung-related health hazards. These diseases typically take time to manifest, and their severity is directly proportional to the level of exposure to asbestos fibers.
The major and most common health effects of improper asbestos removal are:
- Lung cancer
To avoid getting any of these illnesses, it is strongly advised that you do not disturb or damage any material you suspect to contain asbestos. It is also recommended you always hire the services of a professional asbestos removal or abatement contractor to handle any asbestos-containing material.
How Much Does Asbestos Removal Cost?
The average cost of asbestos removal in the United States is $1,800 - $2,400. However, this figure is usually affected by several factors that include the amount of asbestos that has to be removed and the extent of work that has to be done. As such, the cost of asbestos removal can be as low as $600 or as high as $7,000. Some common costStonemasonry estimates associated with asbestos removal are listed as follows:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Asbestos Removal?
The main factors that directly affect the cost of asbestos removal are the size of the house, the amount of asbestos that is to be removed, and the location of the asbestos. For example, removing asbestos from attics or roofs generally costs more than removing asbestos from drywalls or ceiling tiles. If it is suspected that there are asbestos fibers in the air because the asbestos-containing material was damaged or disturbed before the removal project, then you may also pay an asbestos air testing fee. This usually costs $200 - $800. Finally, the cost of obtaining the required permits can affect the total amount of money you may pay for asbestos removal. This fee varies by area of residence. Consult the office of your city's building department nearby to determine the appropriate fee.
What Qualifications Should Asbestos Removal Contractors Have?
The United States has more than 44,200 hazardous materials removal workers nationwide. These workers are expected to have a minimum educational qualification of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Asbestos removal contractors are also required to have been properly trained and licensed by a federal or state agency in accordance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986. Note that asbestos removal contractors who wish to work on houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 may also be required to obtain additional training and certification from the Environmental Protection Agency or an EPA-authorized state. This is because these types of buildings typically contain lead-based paint, which is considered a hazardous material.
Do You Need a Handyman or an Asbestos Removal Contractor?
When it comes to asbestos removal, it is not a good idea to employ a handyman. Handymen are not trained and equipped to handle hazardous materials, and the Improper handling of asbestos can lead to serious health problems. You should always employ a professional and licensed contractor's services when it comes to asbestos and asbestos-containing materials.
Hiring a professional asbestos removal contractor near you ensures that the job is done properly and in line with all asbestos-related laws and regulations, thereby reducing any health risks associated with the process. In addition to the health benefits, hiring a professional asbestos removal contractor that is bonded and insured also protects you economically by shielding you from any financial liabilities that may arise as a result of an on the job injury or a default on the part of the contractor.
What Are the Common Post Asbestos Removal Expenses?
Asbestos is considered a hazardous material; therefore, its disposal is typically done by a qualified asbestos removal contractor that can handle the job, and the cost of this disposal is usually included in your bill. However, after the asbestos has been properly removed and disposed of, you may be required to perform an asbestos air test known as a clearance test. An independent party usually performs this test, and it indicates whether harmful asbestos fibers are in the atmosphere. If the test results come back negative, then it is considered safe to move back into your house. Clearance tests typically cost an average of $400. Note that some asbestos removal contractors calculate this fee as part of their total bill. This is usually the case if an asbestos air test was carried out before the project was started. You can ask your contractor whether asbestos air tests are part of their services and whether these tests would cost you extra. It is recommended that you use the services of professionals near you to reduce associated travel and logistics costs.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Asbestos Removal Expenses?
Homeowners' insurance does not typically cover the cost of asbestos removal. This is because insurance companies classify asbestos as a pollutant, and almost all homeowners' insurance policies exclude pollutants from their list of covered perils. A standard homeowner's insurance policy generally covers unexpected perils like theft, fires, lightning storms, and hail. However, suppose your home is damaged by a peril that is covered in your policy, and the damage includes the destruction or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials. In that case, your homeowners' insurance policy may pay for the safe cleaning and removal of the disturbed asbestos. It is estimated that over 98% of insurance claims filed in 2018 resulted from property damage. Before you purchase a homeowner's insurance policy, you should always have a clear idea of the types of perils that the policy will cover.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Asbestos Removal Contractor?
Yes, you can use digital payment methods to pay your asbestos contractor. Digital forms of payment are generally considered faster, more convenient, and more secure than cash transactions. Many digital payment methods also have the advantage of automatically generating receipts after each money transfer, making them better for book-keeping purposes. However, not all contractors accept payments via digital methods. Therefore, if this is your preferred method of conducting monetary transactions, you should always inform your asbestos removal contractor. In addition to this, it is advisable to always collect receipts for any transactions that you may perform with cash.