Architects And Engineers: Plan For Asbestos Inspections Now

2015-04-27 |

Category: Asbestos

There are many factors to consider when you’re engaged in a construction or remodeling project. Design, materials, functionality, budget and many more. Unfortunately, one of the factors that’s regularly neglected is asbestos inspections. And considering that city, state and even federal regulations require that building sites be inspected for asbestos and free of this harmful material before any demolition or construction takes place, this oversight can be detrimental to the success of your project.

As an architect or engineer on a project, it’s vital to involve asbestos inspectors in your project early. Too often a project is ready to move into the construction phase before asbestos inspections or remediation are considered.

The result? A stalled project and quite likely an unhappy client.

Consider this before you begin your next construction or remodel and get inspectors involved early.

Asbestos Inspection & Abatement Requirements

In both New York City and New York State (as in many others), you are required to have an asbestos inspection done prior to receiving any building permits. But even beyond inspections, you are also required to remove asbestos in the work area prior to engaging in construction or demolition that may disturb it.

These are just some of the key requirements you need to know:

  • Air sampling for asbestos must be conducted by a technician who has been trained in the chosen sampling methodology. That means it’s incumbent upon you to hire a qualified professional, and one who has the appropriate technician certification.
  • The laboratory used for sample analysis must be approved by the New York State Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Approval Program. This may not be as simple as it sounds. Labs come and go and their certifications change. Be sure you’re dealing with a qualified facility.
  • Asbestos companies and contractors must be licensed through the New York State Department of Labor Asbestos Licensing and Certification Unit.
  • An asbestos survey must sample material throughout every part of the building or structure to be demolished, renovated or repaired. The survey must identify the locations, conditions and friability of all affected parts of the building. Given the stringent and specific nature of requirements, you can see the importance of bringing in qualified professionals as early as possible.

But perhaps most importantly, if the presence of asbestos is detected anywhere in the structure, all construction, demolition or repair work must immediately cease. And it cannot begin again until the asbestos is safely removed and the area resampled to ensure that the offending material has been completely removed.

This last is the sticking point for many projects, because while you may feel confident that you have the appropriate resources, including certified technicians, professionals and laboratories, that is small consolation when a project is derailed because asbestos was not considered early enough and work on your project must cease.

The Danger Of Deferring Asbestos Inspections And Remediation

Perhaps you’ve begun to see the dilemma you’ll be faced with if your project stalls because asbestos is not considered as part of the early planning process.

Without clean inspections, you won’t be able to get the building permits you need to continue work. That means stopping work, bringing in inspectors and restarting the project at some later date.

If asbestos is found during inspections, that only hinders progress further. Depending on the extent of the affected area, remediation followed by additional inspections can lead to lengthy project delays.

And while it may be possible to bring in an asbestos team quickly, you can’t always count on getting lab results back quickly. Ceasing progress as you wait for results – positive or negative – adds stress and unnecessary delays that could have been avoided.

Delaying the project timeline is one issue but it is often compounded by budget overruns. If you haven’t calculated the cost of inspections, testing and even remediation into your budget, it can create tension between you and the client or even stall the project further if funding becomes an issue.

The lesson here is clear for architects and engineers: every time you’re engaged in a construction, remodel, renovation or repair project, bring asbestos inspectors in early. Understanding what you’ll have to contend with, from the basics of inspections, sampling and lab results to the potentially more complex issues of remediation will give you the flexibility you need to adjust timeline and budget without unexpected and unpleasant repercussions.

Before your next project gets underway – or becomes stalled – contact us and find out how we can help.

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