Lead rules take shape

April 19, 2010
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At $448 million, the state of Michigan has received the largest per capita award of Neighborhood Stabilization Program I/II funds of any other state in the nation, and the clock is ticking.

As these funds are devoted to the rehab and repair or demolition of foreclosed and abandoned properties in qualified census tracts for buyers and renters, it’s critical that schools, municipalities, contractors, developers and community-based organizations know the three scenarios that require HUD/EPA-compliant lead-based inspections:

  • Folks doing renovation and gut-rehab on any home or apartment built before 1978 must follow lead-safe work practices, even for small projects. The new EPA Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule goes into effect April 22 (Earth Day) and it applies to very small jobs — any disturbance of more than 6 square feet of paint in any room and of more than 20 square feet on the house exterior.

  • Any renovation and gut-rehab work using more than $25,000 state or federal funds or incentives for houses or apartments built before 1978 must have an LBP inspection and risk assessment.

  • As a form of liability insurance — an LBP inspection before renovation work and clearance testing after completion provides the developer a lead abatement properly done and compliant with the law.

Federal, state and local governments have made the goal of lead-free housing a priority. Lead poisoning is a serious issue — very low levels of lead in children have resulted in neuromotor and learning impairments.

Secondly, it will not be possible to renovate correctly if you haven’t identified where the lead is and either remove it (abatement) or ensure that it cannot become a hazard (interim controls). In an already difficult housing market, you may not be able to sell a home to an informed buyer if you’re unable to share the LBP report and copies of the clearance report.

An LBP inspection should be done prior to writing a contractor’s scope of work even for something as simple as upgrading a kitchen. Technically, there are three choices: conduct an LBP inspection combined with a risk assessment (often tabbed a combination report) or do an LBP inspection, and if the results warrant, pursue a separate risk assessment using the LBP inspection report as a base document.

Peter Collins, NSP director at ASTI Environmental, produced this column for the Commercial Board of Realtors — Michigan.

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