Every home buyer has a “must have” list – a list of the items that a house must have to be considered for purchase. While every buyer has a different “must have” list, no buyers have lead paint hazards as a “must have.”
New England has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, much of it built before 1978, when the use of lead-based paint was banned. If you are looking at a home built before 1978, you should know that most older houses were painted with lead paint. Today, that lead paint is breaking down, flaking, peeling, and getting rubbed off. Lead paint and the dust it produces are dangerous to small children who get into everything in the house. Lead dust gets on kids’ hands, toys, and more, which often end up in their mouths, especially when they’re teething. Even very small amounts of lead paint dust can negatively impact a young child’s health and development causing permanent brain damage, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and other health issues.
If you think you’ve found your future home, you need to do more than just hire a home inspector for structural and electrical issues. You should hire a lead inspector/risk assessor to find out where the lead paint is and whether it’s a hazard right now or a possible “hazard-in-waiting.” Sellers can slap a nice-looking coat of paint on the interior or exterior of a home, but as the new paint begins to wear it can reveal the lead paint underneath.
There are lots of ways to make your home lead-safe and not all of them have to be expensive. Consider:
- Finding a lead inspector/risk assessor near you:
- Learning about how to keep a home with lead-based paint safe for your family, including:
- Keeping the paint in your home in good condition
- Keeping your home clean
- Identifying potential sources of lead in and around your home
- Using cold tap water for drinking and cooking
- Using a Lead-Safe Certified Contractor for any home repairs
In addition, it’s important to know that home buyers have a right to know if lead paint hazards are present before signing contracts. Knowing your rights can help you to protect yourself and your family from potentially dangerous lead hazards in any house you are considering for purchase. Federal law requires that, before being obligated under a contract to buy housing built prior to 1978, buyers must receive the following from the home seller:
- An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards titled Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF).
- Any known information concerning the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or building.
- An attachment to the contract, or language inserted in the contract, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirms that the seller has complied with all notification requirements.
- A 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. Parties may mutually agree, in writing, to lengthen or shorten the time period for inspection. Homebuyers may waive this inspection opportunity. If you have a concern about possible lead-based paint, then get a lead inspection from a certified inspector before buying.
Learn more about lead paint hazards, the negative impact of lead exposure on a child’s heath and development, and your rights when purchasing a house:
- New England Lead’s About Lead page
- Buying a House? Know the Lead Laws
- Does Your House Have Lead Paint? How to Find Out.
- EPA’s information on Lead