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Spencer’s Surveys: Asbestos (and a Pasty) in Port Isaac

It all started on a Thursday morning; the rain was falling hard like hundreds of mini glass orbs—a typical Cornish summertime. I was asked to travel to Port Isaac, the place renowned to many for being the exciting home of Doc Martin. A local construction company had been forced to halt work on the prospect of asbestos and needed a survey before taking the next steps—despite the owner firmly believing that there was no asbestos used in the property. But, they thought it best to err on the side of caution and called TMS for an asbestos survey.

Asbestos in Port Isaac

I travelled up, enjoyed a costa coffee and a pastry on my drive and arrived ready to inspect and survey. When I arrived, I noticed how old the property was—I’d guess one of the oldest in Port Isaac. It was placed perfectly—any Cornishman’s dream! It had fantastic views over the harbour and the main street with vast expanses of husky headland stretching out before you—almost reminiscent of a scene from a Bronte novel.

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The two-bedroom cottage was beautiful from the outside, but when I stepped over the threshold, I saw it needed a full refurbishment. The inside was neglected and needed some time and attention to bring it back to its former Cornish glory.

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I was keen to get started to dispel the confusion—was asbestos present in this property or not? I pulled out my tools and set to work, hunting for the possibility of the dreaded asbestos…

Despite earlier insistences that there was no asbestos there, I soon found my first bit all of a minute after the hunt had begun. The soffit to the porch, a common spot for asbestos to be hiding, had given the fibrous mineral up! I wanted to make sure I searched every possible place asbestos could be hiding and continued on with my usual, thorough asbestos survey. When I’d finished, I’d noted that there were asbestos cement panels in the walls—a measure that’s designed to stop damp from getting in—asbestos floor tiles in the bathroom, more asbestos in the outside toilet roof, and even more in the soffits to the extended dining room.

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One thing I’d noticed was that the asbestos was in a relatively good condition. As I’ve already mentioned, the cottage needed a full refurbishment so this asbestos was going to have to be removed safely and disposed of at a licensed facility. The type of asbestos in the Port Isaac cottage called for semi-controlled conditions by fully trained and competent asbestos experts (like the TMS team), before any other work could be carried out on the property. I’ve been in many situations before where I’ve been told there’s no asbestos present, but I’ve managed to find it. If I hadn’t of travelled to Port Isaac to do the survey, the builders would have probably removed it without knowing what it was!

I travelled back to TMS headquarters with a Port Isaac pasty in my hand, after reporting my findings to the owner. I’ve since been asked if the TMS team can go back and remove the asbestos safely, to ensure none of the workmen breathe in the dangerous fibres that can cause such severe health problems.

I said I’d be there dreckly!

Spencer

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