There are a number of risks involved when you buy an older home. It could have rotting members or water damage. The foundation shifting could threaten the structural integrity of the property. Yet these are not the worst problems home buyers looking at older homes should think about because they are well known. Conversely, the confusion about lead in older homes from the paint to the pipes and relative lack of information about how to spot it or deal with it is a serious problem. Here is a guide to lead rules for home buyers.
Know the Date
A home built before 1978 could have lead in it. Don’t let someone’s assurances that the property was renovated after 1978 eliminate this concern. You have the right to know about potential lead hazards before you sign either a contract to buy or a lease to rent it. Federal law requires any landlord or property seller to inform you of even potential risks. However, the first part of this process is knowing when the oldest part of the home was built.
Have an Inspection Done by an Expert
Once informed of potential lead based hazards, you have a ten day period to conduct an inspection or risk assessment for lead hazards like lead based paint. While a general home inspector knows to check for foundation problems, insect damage and fire damage, they don’t always know how to spot old lead products in a home. They certainly don’t know if someone painting over old lead paint has solved the problem or if pipes in a rarely used room are still the old lead pipes. Conversely, an inspector with a ZOTApro certification knows how to determine if there are still lead pipes or paint in the home and whether or not prior remediation work is sufficient.
Understand Your Legal Rights
You have the right to waive the inspection, but you lose any legal recourse if you do. You can ask for more time to conduct a lead risk assessment if both the potential buyer and home seller agree to it.
Your legal contract will include a lead warning statement to confirm that the seller has a “lead warning statement”. If you sign the contract with that statement, especially if you had a general home inspector say everything was fine, you’ll lose your ability to sue for later remediation costs.
Consider the Other Potential Problems
There are places in Nevada that still sell lead based paint. Antique doors and furniture in the home could bring in lead based paint to a newer property, which is why recycled cabinetry and doors should be checked for lead paint before a family with young children moves in. Antique tubs may come with their original lead pipes. In short, if you’re moving into a renovated property with old paint or piping even if it was built after 1978, have things checked out by a professional.
What if you need remediation for lead hazards or want to renovate the home? You’ll need to price that into the purchase price of the home and may want to receive a cash advance from the seller to pay for the work by professionals before you move in. For example, you risk lead dust introduced into the air when the now decades old “cover up” paint and oldest layer are sanded or dry scraped so that it is removed. Areas with wear and tear could expose under-layers of lead paint in the home. Your best bet is to have these areas inspected by a professional so you don’t buy a home and find that your updates create a health hazard.
Knowing lead laws and regulations in your jurisdiction is essential not only to remain compliant, but for your safety. So don’t take this matter lightly and make sure to schedule for an inspection if you suspect your home might be at risk.