I had 2 ceilings with artex which was flaking off bit by bit anyway. One got attacked with scrapers, cold chisels and various other things, took several days, made an awful mess, still looks hideous and has probably given me asbestosis. The other had a skim-over, which took an hour or two, made no mess, looks lovely and relased no particles whatever into the air.
it also depends when it was put up, the vast majority after about (and I'm not entirely sure of the date) 1980 should asbestos free. anything pre 1970 would be advised to check with a profesional if there is asbestos or not.
If you're living in a Council house, the Southwark website says to check with your neighbourhood housing office and further consult your tenant handbook. Given the likely response from the neighbourhood office, I suggest going straight to Housing Department's Technical Services Unit and ask them for advice. While the webpage I've linked to doesn't mention asbestos, I know that a few years ago Technical Services developed a programme for dealing with asbestos when removing tenants old gas fires and replacing them with new electric ones.
If you're not living in a council house, you could either try pretending that you are, or call Southwark's environmental health team, who may know who the industry experts are.
When I got rid of my artexed ceilings I took Jo's second option too.
Basically, if you think there might be asbestos in old artex, you should get a properly licensed firm in to check it out and do the removal. HSE have an information phone line, or you can check out the list of contractors here and here.
barkyhead & TUMJ - did you do the skimming yourself? Or get someone in to do it? If the former, isn't it hard and shouldn't I go to college to learn how to do it first or something (my much more diy-orientated older bro says i'll make a mess)? If the latter who were they? Thanks.
Andrew, thanks a lot for your help - think I'll phone the freeholder and see if they know when the artex was put down and if it has asbestos in it.
No worries. I'd definitely get a pro in to do it for you - it's a very skilled job to skim a ceiling, even if they do make it look easy! Depending on the size of the ceiling, it should set you back a couple of hundred....