Why is there a lead paint disclaimer in my real estate sales contract?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

It’s a formal notification that’s required to be part of the sales contract for homes built before 1978, advising you that there may be lead paint present, which is a known health hazard. 

   According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, lead was used as a pigment and drying agent in "alkyd" oil based paint. "Latex" water based paints generally have not contained lead. About two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint. Some homes built after 1960 also contain heavily-leaded paint. 

    It may be on any interior or exterior surface, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal maximum lead content in most kinds of paint to 0.06% (a trace amount). Consider having the paint in homes constructed before 1978 tested for lead before renovating or if the paint or underlying surface is deteriorating. This is particularly important if infants, children, or pregnant women are present.

   There are do-it-yourself kits available. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only approved one that is readily available to the public, and the results are only accepted when when the kit is used by a trained professional. To learn more about it, go to our blog post Does a home inspector check for lead paint?


    Another in-home test uses X-ray fluorescence to determine if the paint contains lead. It is done only by professionals trained by the equipment manufacturer and who have passed a state or local government training course, since the equipment contains radioactive materials. We can refer you to a professional lead inspector to check your pre-1978 home for the presence of lead, and the cost for the inspection is typically between $250 and $350. The inspector will check each wall and trim surface in every room and around the exterior of the home and provide a detailed report of the findings.

   You also have the option of removing small sections of paint about 1-inch square, cut out all the way down to wall material surface, from several locations in the home and sending the chips to a lab for analysis of lead content. This method is considered the most reliable. But, because it is an intrusive test, which leaves a small gouge in the wall or trim surface, along with a section of paint missing, you will need written permission from the seller or the seller’s authorized representative, to take the samples. Also, lab testing of chip samples is limited to a few samples by the high cost, so it does not test every wall and trim surface like an X-ray fluorescence inspection.

   To better understand the health hazards of lead paint in an older home, along with what your can do minimize the exposure of your family to lead ingestion, we suggest reading the EPA guide “Protecting Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” Click on the icon below to download it.

 
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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.


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