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House, Unknown Lead Paint, Renovations

am0nam0n Registered User regular
The wife and I had an offer accepted on a house (yay us!). We have a regular inspection (plus radon) scheduled for this week. However, the house was built prior to 1978, which in MA means potential lead paint. Just about every window in the house has been replaced, and it looks like many of the doors have, too. The sills still appear painted, but just about everything in the house looks like there has been at least one fresh coat (I only noticed cracked paint in two areas, both of which were above 5ft on door frames). The current owner has never tested, nor do they have any knowledge of the status of lead paint.

If we didn't have the house tested, but wanted to have some renovations done down the road, would a contractor even take the job without knowing the lead status? If they did, would we need to ensure they were deleading certified to ensure they take the proper precautions just in case? Even if they had those credentials, would they do it without knowing the status? There are a few things we'd like to have done down the road (removing some closets and knocking down the wall behind them to expand rooms).

I understand the risks of not getting the house lead inspected, so my question isn't about whether or not I should. It's more about whether or not contractors would be willing to take a job on such a house and if asking them to do the work as if there was lead is something that is plausible.

Posts

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    Lead paint is the least of your worries in a < 1980 house. You'd have no problem getting people to fix that. Wear a mask and try not to eat it (Edit: when doing renos). Lead paint is only a risk around children and pets (Edit: when not doing renos).

    With a house that old you have to worry about asbestos though. There's a good chance the insulation or any sort of tile floor will have asbestos in it. There's also a very minor chance the paint/walls will have asbestos in it too.

    But as far as the lead is concerned, not a big deal.

    bowen on
    Ladies.
  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit At the edge of spacetime lies a path with no end.Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure they have to test before work starts in a house that old. Unless you have some sort of certificate stating that the lead has been remediated. If not, it's going to add some dollars to your renovation project.

    Here is the EPA page on the subject, and if I remember right and I'm reading the page right, any contractor will have to be EPA approved to do the work.

    Steam - Synthetic Violence | XBOX Live - Cannonfuse | PSN - CastleBravo | Twitch - SoggybiscuitPA
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    Depends entirely on the contractor. Some will want to go by the books from the get-go. Some not (and prices usually reflect). Some will have permitted quotes and non-permitted quotes. Not recommending that you avoid due diligence, but you can probably get work done to your terms, and you probably have fewer avenues for remediation if something goes wrong.

    Djeet on
    bowen
  • am0nam0n Registered User regular
    Thanks. I think what I am looking to understand better is, if we don't get a lead inspection done and want work done, how difficult would it be to find someone who is qualified to deal with lead and do the work as if lead was present, without doing the inspection. Most of the house looks to be in very good condition (as I mentioned, all but one window has been replaced and that one doesn't open), with all room recently painted and no significant cracking or peeling noticed. I'd rather not have to strip the entire house if we only want to remove one or two closets (and plan to keep up with the other rooms), but when we do, I want to make sure it's done safely.

    Does that make sense?

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    am0n wrote: »
    Thanks. I think what I am looking to understand better is, if we don't get a lead inspection done and want work done, how difficult would it be to find someone who is qualified to deal with lead and do the work as if lead was present, without doing the inspection. Most of the house looks to be in very good condition (as I mentioned, all but one window has been replaced and that one doesn't open), with all room recently painted and no significant cracking or peeling noticed. I'd rather not have to strip the entire house if we only want to remove one or two closets (and plan to keep up with the other rooms), but when we do, I want to make sure it's done safely.

    Does that make sense?

    You can definitely find contractors that won't test and will treat it like it's there in New England. May be frowned on by plenty of building inspectors though.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Don't get it tested. Having ambiguity of knowledge in this situation is preferable. Honestly if you are just getting some closets removed, a HEPA mask and a HEPA equipped vacuum is probably fine.

    The EPA rules/guidelines are weird. For example one of them is you should close your windows, so that the dust doesn't go outside-seems responsible enough. On the other hand, if I am going to be doing something like this in my house dust going outside is great. That means it's not in my house!

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    It's seriously not even that big of a deal.

    https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2502/

    That's what NYS says on the matter. It's a really watered down asbestos clean up method.

    Ladies.
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    am0n wrote: »
    Thanks. I think what I am looking to understand better is, if we don't get a lead inspection done and want work done, how difficult would it be to find someone who is qualified to deal with lead and do the work as if lead was present, without doing the inspection.

    You will need to look, and invite to do quotes, and take your time doing so, and eventually you'll have to go by your gut, cause I don't think there is an internet resource for "this guy does work to current code, but neither charges for it nor actually does all the permitting". The way we're doing it is finding people through "handyman" or odd jobs avenues and vetting from there. However my property is not for resale (edit: and I already got what I've got), and if it were I might do things differently.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too.

    I'm sure you can find someone who is capable and willing to do the job, but be aware that they are taking a risk and the job may reflect. And you may not have a good read on whether this guy can do a good job, since you're seeking someone who's not necessarily interested in being accountable to regulatory bodies.

    If this for a purchase of a residence, then just walk, or be happy with what you're getting. You will be seeing a ton of expenses your first year or 3 without considering renovations. Maybe you can hire a non-affiliated 3rd party to do just a lead test?

    Djeet on
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    If the primer and paint are fresh the lead paint has probably been encapsulated which is epa approved for lead paint. You can do it yourself if you are nervous.

    http://thecraftsmanblog.com/how-to-encapsulate-lead-paint/

    You may want to remove the cracking and flaking paint.

    Check the electrical. Houses in the 70s did shitty electrical work. That is a way bigger danger than asbestos and lead paint.

    zepherin on
    bowenShadowfire
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »
    If the primer and paint are fresh the lead paint has probably been encapsulated which is epa approved for lead paint. You can do it yourself if you are nervous.

    http://thecraftsmanblog.com/how-to-encapsulate-lead-paint/

    You may want to remove the cracking and flaking paint.

    Check the electrical. Houses in the 70s did shitty electrical work. That is a way bigger danger than asbestos and lead paint.

    good chance of aluminium wires, which aren't really bad per se, but people often mix aluminium with copper endpoints which will cause failure, and ultimately, fire. It can take anywhere from months to decades for this to happen too.

    Ladies.
    zepherin
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    bowen wrote: »
    zepherin wrote: »
    If the primer and paint are fresh the lead paint has probably been encapsulated which is epa approved for lead paint. You can do it yourself if you are nervous.

    http://thecraftsmanblog.com/how-to-encapsulate-lead-paint/

    You may want to remove the cracking and flaking paint.

    Check the electrical. Houses in the 70s did shitty electrical work. That is a way bigger danger than asbestos and lead paint.

    good chance of aluminium wires, which aren't really bad per se, but people often mix aluminium with copper endpoints which will cause failure, and ultimately, fire. It can take anywhere from months to decades for this to happen too.
    Also a trend in the 80s was to replace 10 and 15 amp fuses with 20 amp fuses.
    :x

    National Electric Code didn't require 12 gauge wire in residential 120 volt circuits until the 90s so when they go from 15 amp to 20 amp circuit the wire is undersized and heats up.

    bowen
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    I guess on the upside, depending on what you decide to do you can do it all at once. If the insulation needs to be torn out, you can rewire it while you've got the walls open.

    Beware "popcorn" ceilings and unfinished basements with insulation tiles. Asbestos siding is actually fine more or less.

    bowen
  • am0nam0n Registered User regular
    Thanks.

    The house was built in '65. I think the ceilings are popcorn, so I do plan to ask the home inspector about that. He will also examine the pipes/wiring (on top of being a licensed inspector, he is also a licensed electrician, so that helps him to identify the electrical issues a bit better hopefully). I'll remember the fuse thing. I know the total is a 100 A fuse, but I didn't check the individuals.

    Just to reiterate, I'm not looking to have questionable work done. Unfortunately in the state, if you get tested for lead, it becomes public record, so very few people do it because the rules after you officially fail can be extreme (there is definitely safety risk, but there is also discussion about whether the state goes too extreme, which is why so few people decide to get tested). However, if any work is done, I do want it done well and to take into account the fact there is probably lead and to have the people doing the work handle it appropriately. I think as pointed out, I'm not really going to get an answer here; I need to contact some of the de-leading certified or EPA certified contractors and then talk to them about what is or is not required for them to do work on the place, in particular if the lead status is unknown.

    I also read that I can get qualified to do some of the smaller things myself. I will likely pursue that. I may at least be able to clean up the sills and door frames myself if I am concerned.

    I think at this point I am going to do the regular inspection first. I'll ask the inspector there whether he sees anything questionable enough to warrant a lead inspection. He may or may not answer that question (not asking if there is lead, just if there are any warning signs suggesting I should have it looked into further). If everything looks clean and well kept, he may say just keep it well kept and move on.

    He may also find a host of other issues (lead pipes/solder, lead in the water, asbestos, aluminum wire with the wrong fuses, etc.). I'll know more this weekend, I think.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    zepherin
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    If you inspect and it's luredlead, you don't own the house yet and it's more of a burden on the seller. Why not have it tested, then put some remediation in as a contingency?

    Edit: To correct for pre-purchase pokemon inspections.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
    bowendavidsdurionsElvenshaeJaysonFour
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    am0n wrote: »
    Thanks.

    The house was built in '65. I think the ceilings are popcorn, so I do plan to ask the home inspector about that. He will also examine the pipes/wiring (on top of being a licensed inspector, he is also a licensed electrician, so that helps him to identify the electrical issues a bit better hopefully). I'll remember the fuse thing. I know the total is a 100 A fuse, but I didn't check the individuals.

    Just to reiterate, I'm not looking to have questionable work done. Unfortunately in the state, if you get tested for lead, it becomes public record, so very few people do it because the rules after you officially fail can be extreme (there is definitely safety risk, but there is also discussion about whether the state goes too extreme, which is why so few people decide to get tested). However, if any work is done, I do want it done well and to take into account the fact there is probably lead and to have the people doing the work handle it appropriately. I think as pointed out, I'm not really going to get an answer here; I need to contact some of the de-leading certified or EPA certified contractors and then talk to them about what is or is not required for them to do work on the place, in particular if the lead status is unknown.

    I also read that I can get qualified to do some of the smaller things myself. I will likely pursue that. I may at least be able to clean up the sills and door frames myself if I am concerned.

    I think at this point I am going to do the regular inspection first. I'll ask the inspector there whether he sees anything questionable enough to warrant a lead inspection. He may or may not answer that question (not asking if there is lead, just if there are any warning signs suggesting I should have it looked into further). If everything looks clean and well kept, he may say just keep it well kept and move on.

    He may also find a host of other issues (lead pipes/solder, lead in the water, asbestos, aluminum wire with the wrong fuses, etc.). I'll know more this weekend, I think.

    Thanks for the feedback.
    If having it on the public record is a concern, You may just want to test it by yourself.
    https://www.amazon.com/3M-717834209102DUPE-LeadCheck-Swabs-8-Pack/dp/B008BK15PU?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008BK15PU&linkCode=as2&linkId=MUK7JPX624BHDX5V&redirect=true&ref_=as_li_tl&tag=thecrablo09-20

  • am0nam0n Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    If you inspect and it's luredlead, you don't own the house yet and it's more of a burden on the seller. Why not have it tested, then put some remediation in as a contingency?

    Edit: To correct for pre-purchase pokemon inspections.

    Great question.

    I don't have a good answer.

    The right answer is to have it tested and cleaned up, partly for any future children's safety, partly because I think it's the law (although people try to argue it's only the law if you know, which is why they remain ignorant, even though the website clearly says you are held liable regardless of whether or not you know).

    However, I think I've reached the point where I've asked too many people for an opinion. My wife says don't bother, her parents say don't bother. But her uncle (realtor) and her sister say to do it. I have co-workers who laughed and just said don't worry about it, others who said get it tested (most of whom have houses built after 1978, possibly because lead abated might have been very important to them). I have friends who say don't worry, another who is buying a place and in the same position and just as torn. My realtor said he's only had two people in his career test (which doesn't make it right, but it is what it is).

    I did call a de-leading contractor. He said that he would do work under the assumption that lead was present if the status was unknown (at my request).

    I guess what it comes down to is we do like the house, the lot, etc. While it's not 100% of what we want, it's like 85-90%, which is a lot given how picky the wife and I have been. While having it tested and finding lead might put onus on the seller, I am doubting that, mainly because this particular town has houses rarely lasting long, and since the law only requires you comply with children 6 and under, I think they'd easily find someone looking to upgrade with older children, even if it shows up that the house had lead going forward.

    Again, none of that is a good answer. I can't provide you that. I think my sense of lawfulness is battling with my "don't want to open a pandora's box"-ness.

    However, the wife agreed we should do it, if for nothing else than for me to stop stressing over it. I set up something for two days after the actual inspection so that if that for some reason just goes super well and that inspector doesn't see anything that concerns him, we can evaluate what we need to do, but if there is still doubt, we are set up to have it done. If the cost isn't massive and the seller refuses, we'll likely take it anyway. But this way, at least, if the work necessary is extreme and the seller refuses, we can walk before biting off more than we can chew.

    Of course, I'm sure I am still going to change my mind no less than 187 times between now and Saturday.

    am0n on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    If you like the house, you should buy the house. Lead paint isn't a super urgent thing to replace anyways. As long as you're not disturbing anything you're okay.

    Ladies.
    schuss
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Have it inspected. If lead turns up, ask the seller for $2000 to remediate. If they say no, buy the house anyway.

    Yeah, there's a chance the seller walks away but it's unlikely.

    What is this I don't even.
    bowenShadowfire
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    The seller probably won't let you test, as then they have to disclose.

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