East Coast Bays Leisure Centre

Before
Before

When you have an asbestos roof over a community gym and kindy with a playground outside, it’s best not to take risks with it.

That was the view of Auckland Council when it became apparent that lichen could be degrading the asbestos roof on the East Coast Bays Leisure Centre in Browns Bay.

As Rob Anderson, of Metro Roofing explains, “As soon as lichen starts growing on an asbestos roof it can release fibre because lichen can remove the top layer. The roof on the gym wasn’t in poor condition but it was prudent to replace it. Because it was Auckland Council they jumped in and did it before it became hazardous.” Rob estimates the asbestos-cement Super Six roofing was about 35 years old and needed to be carefully handled as it was removed.

As James Cosslett, site manager for Cape Ltd explains: “The thing about asbestos is that if it is left alone then it is not a problem but if people are walking around on the roof without due care and creating cracks and breaks then that’s when it becomes a problem and starts releasing fibres and becomes dangerous.”

“This roof looked pretty well worn but when we lifted the sheets off the underside looked as new as the day they were laid.

“James adds, “We worked very carefully and methodically to make sure we never broke a sheet. We took all the screws out of the sheets then sprayed the outside with PVA glue to seal it. Then the sheets were turned over and the other side sprayed with PVA glue. 

We used a dye in the glue so that we could be sure that the sheets were totally covered and sealed.” Specialised vacuum cleaners were used as the screws and sheets were removed and in the ceiling space to make sure no asbestos dust escaped. The leisure centre and attached kindergarten were closed down for about two months, and the basketball court and gym equipment covered in plastic. Surfaces were washed down and wiped after the job. 

James adds, “We did a lot of high level cleaning such as light fixtures and basketball hoops to get rid of any asbestos dust.”

He says once the sheets were off, other remedial work had to be done before the new True Oak Corrugate could be installed.

“When we pulled the roof sheets off it became apparent there was some structural damage to the steel so we had to rustproof the steel,” says James. “And there had been some water damage in certain areas so we had to replace some timbers as well.” 

While removing the asbestos was no easy task, replacing it was not that simple either. About 2000sq m of Roofing Industries’ True Oak Corrugate in ‘Titania’ was used on the job. True Oak Corrugate was chosen for its strength and durability, and because it mimicked the look of the asbestos with its profile and ‘Titania’ hue.

Rob Anderson says he had to buy some new machinery especially for the tricky job.

“One of the faces was 80 degrees so we couldn’t scaffold it so we bought a 20m Manitou [aerial work platform] to do the job,” he says. “And there were other challenges like building twin wall systems for skylights 13m in the air. We also had the gutters custom-made to resemble the old asbestos gutters.”

Rob says while the job was challenging, one of the most pleasing aspects was the way any asbestos danger was contained. “We all wore monitors on the job and they came back clean,” he says. “And there was testing done around the centre, including the kids’ playground, and that came back at zero.” 

James Cosslett adds that asbestos testing was done before and after the job – with none detected – and photographs were taken as work progressed and paperwork signed off to show that safe work practices were being followed.

“The council was delighted with the job and we were three weeks ahead of schedule so they could open the centre up again and start getting children to come back to the kindy.”