Got lead? There’s a good chance you do


On April 22, 2010 a new law federal law took effect. The grumbling about the law started long before April.

Now 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.