Got lead? There is a good chance that you do.

Red paint can On April 22, 2010 a new law federal law took effect. The grumbling about the law started long before April. As of April 22 paid renovators who perform work on homes built before 1978 will have to use what are called "safe lead procedures".  They will also have to receive special training and certification on what those procedures are and they will have to give home owners or renters this booklet called "renovate right".

The law applies to renovations that disturb more than six square feet of lead based paint on the interior or twenty square feel of lead based paint on the exterior.  It does apply to any kind of window replacement on homes built before 1978. In general people don't test for lead based paint we just assume it is there.

I have heard that this may make remodeling more expensive and the estimates of how it will affect the average window replacement job range from $100 to $2000 dollars.  The new laws will make renovations on older homes more costly but I don't think it will have a huge impact.  The renovation rules are pretty simple and should not cause a full blown panic attack among renovators: 

1. Contain the work area.

2. Minimize dust.

3. Clean up thoroughly.

Training for contractors involves learning how to contain the work area, minimize the dust and how to clean up thoroughly.

If you live in St. Paul or Minneapolis chances are you live in a home or apartment that was built before 1978.  When you purchased your pre-1978 home or signed the lease you should have received a lead based paint booklet from your Realtor or landlord.  As a rule we assume these homes have lead based paint in them.  Often the paint is covered with newer non lead based paints. The paint is the most dangerous when it is ingested.   Read the booklet for more information.

I finally found an answer to a question that home buyers often ask and that is:  What are the chances that this home has lead based paint in it?

Lead based paint
click on chart to make it larger. The chart comes from the "renovate right" booklet published by the EPA.

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5 Replies to “Got lead? There is a good chance that you do.”

  1. T,

    Back in January when I first came across an article about the new law I went to Parr Lumber and purchased 6 windows for my 1929 Home in Portland. Last month I completed replacing all of those windows including all of the interior lath a plaster permiter walls. I added insulation and put up new sheet rock.I replaced several hundred feet of marginal exterior siding as well.
    I am so glad that I did not wait to do this project this summer as anticipated. Who knows how much extra the cost could have been.
    Very nicely written post here.

  2. Teresa boardman says:

    That is kind of my point. It will drive up costs but when it was first explained to me they sounded like it would double the cost of replacement windows. Either the contractor I talked to was crooked, clueless or both.

  3. That’s interesting. We just had 31 windows replaced in a home built in 1909 and they said nothing about lead as far as I know. I know about it from my own environmental background and painting the house, but they weren’t out there with respirators or anything, and they certainly weren’t cleanup friendly. And again, as far as we know, it wasn’t any more expensive. Renewal by Anderson is expensive enough!

  4. Teresa boardman says:

    Amy – the new rules just took effect last week.

  5. Oh good. Was about to call them and ask. They didn’t have much lead to worry about putting in windows. I painted and scraped everything just last summer and the layer of lead, if it is lead, is buried under 30 years of annually applied oil based paint. But that is good to know. We passed inspection so I assumed everything was okay.
    This is important to be aware of though. My sister had a huge problem with a painter who sprayed lead based paint all over her yard and refused to come back and clean it up. It was a HUGE mess and concern and learning lesson. I doubt her neighbors will be growing veggies in the yard for some time.

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