Off The Net Sep 2010

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QUESTION/COMMENT:


For those not aware.

The EPA is requiring persons doing repairs, renovations, painting etc. for compensation on homes built before 1978 where children or pregnant women occupy or are present, to have the home tested for lead if there is contact where the painted surface is disturbed. This would include any GC, pest control operator, painter, handyman, electrician, plumber etc. If lead is found or suspected, than containment is mandatory. The clients must be provided with a "Renovate Right" and signed within 60 days prior to work commencing  There are many more requirements and regulations as well as exclusions to this requirement to mention in this post.

I have taken the Renovators Certification class and will be an EPA certified Renovator. My question is how will we or will we disclaim this info in our reports and has anyone written a disclaimer they would like to share? If not I would be happy to write a disclaimer and share with others based on the info I have obtained.


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I use two different comments.  One, a general comment near the beginning of the report.  The second at the siding section if the exterior paint is in poor condition.  Currently, I do not have a comment about interior paint, but I believe that would be covered by the first comment.  Please feel free to critique, condemn and complain about these two comments to your heart's content.  

Homes constructed prior to the late 1970s often used building materials containing asbestos and/or lead.  This can be of particular concern if the materials are in deteriorated condition or if remodels/additions are planned.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has information regarding the potential hazards as well as ways to mitigate these hazards.  As I am not qualified to verify the presence or absence of any toxic material, a qualified abatement contractor or testing laboratory should be consulted for specific information.  

Client is advised to have the paint tested for lead content prior to commencing preparation for painting.  If lead is found, old paint should be properly addressed by a qualified lead abatement contractor.  



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I was thinking more along the lines of us deferring trades people when components  are defective and reminding our clients that they should be verifying that person is a certified renovator.
My spin:

[NOTE ] Buildings built before 1978 may have products in them that contain some amounts  lead. Determining the presence of these products is beyond the scope of this inspection and in the reporting of these materials.

Current EPA requirements mandate any trades person performing repairs for compensation on targeted housing and child occupied facilities built before 1978 that have painted or surface coated surfaces where 6 sq. feet of the surfaces are renovated or disturbed must:

a)  Provide the client within 60 days of commencement of work a "Renovate Right" lead hazards pamphlet
b) Obtain from the owner a written acknowledgment they have received the pamphlet
c) Test or have the surface(s) tested for lead,
d) If found to contain lead, containment and cleanup practices required by EPA regulations are to be followed.

Individuals performing renovations on homes containing lead must be properly trained, renovators and firms performing renovations are certified and the work practices in containment and cleanup of lead are followed.

The client should be aware that this report may identify defects advising repairs that require renovation and disturbance of lead during the course of those repairs . The client is advised to ensure the individual(s) performing those renovations does so in accordance with EPA mandated requirements. Failure to do so can increase exposure to lead and hazards in children and pregnant women.

Please feel free to edit as appropriate.
This is real people. Much more so then mold ever was!


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I copied this from somewhere else on the web.  Feel free to use or critique as needed.

The older home may have lead paint present.  It is beyond the scope of this inspection to determine if lead is present in the home or not.
Lead paint is a health hazard for both children and adults.  The new stricter EPA regulations are designed to ensure those contractors that disturb lead painted surfaces, due so in such a way that protects themselves and the inhabitants from lead poisoning. Certified renovators must perform any work that disturbs six square feet or more of interior lead painted surfaces (20 square feet or more on the exterior).

The new rule which becomes effective in April 2010,  requires only EPA certified individuals to perform this work.  Contractor is broad term that could include a number of various trades people that may work on the target pre-1978 built homes and buildings.  These  may include:  plumber, electrician, handyman, renovator, mason, carpenter, painter, HVAC contractor, remodeler and others.

Those contractors and trades people  not following the new guidelines can face a fine of $37,500.
Contractors and property owners need to know that if a home was built prior to 1978, there is a good chance it contains some lead paint. Before  any work is performed that may disturb painted surfaces, a contractor is now required to provide this pamphlet  www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf.   On April 22, 2010, all contractors performing work on pre-1978 homes and buildings  must be certified by the EPA.

If you are doing any work yourself as a do it yourself project, there is some good information on lead paint hazards at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm



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One more thing. They extended  the deadline to become certified to Sept.23. Enforcement begins Dec. 31, 2010.


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The reason we included Item #10 in Part III of our SOPs was to avoid listing all possible “hazardous, illegal, or controlled substance, or the damage or health risks arising there from.”  Once you start prioritizing hazardous materials you had better list all of them besides paint and don’t forget the lead content in residential lavy & sink faucets.


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This notice is to inform the clients about requirements for the workers and protection of the clients and their family by those workers for those repairs we may recommend in our reports.
This issue is now the soup de jour of importance in home repair and has far exceeding implications and will be the next major area of litigation directed towards contractors and anyone performing repairs for compensation. Cross complaints will become rampant! I believe I am providing a customer service that far outweighs the potential for liability by not naming other contaminants, etc.
The  argument can be made that by not informing the client of this issue when we are recommending repairs, we can possibly be held negligent. Why not error on the side of caution than take that risk , which in my mind is far greater that not naming every other contaminant?
My business decision.  Others opinions may vary.


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Do you also install disclaimers in your inspection reports on lead in faucet hardware, (another new law arriving soon), Chinese drywall, asbestos, nitrogen oxides, PFCs, formaldehyde mercury, mold, fungus,  pesticides, radon, carbamezopives, sulfamethoxazoles, etc. etc., etc…….?  How about keeping adult drugs out of the reach of children, fatty foods, too much alcohol consumption, and the health dangers of nicotine?  Why stop with lead paint?  Please re-read CCC 7195 to 7199 because that describes what we are to be held too in a nutshell.  In other words, why make it more complicated than it is?  As Peter’s friend Clyde stated, “in for a penny, in for a pound.”
Not meant to be demean your comments, but I have serious opinions on this subject.

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I'd say let the SOP's cover your backside.

Don't you mention in your report that you recommend repairs by specialists? Shouldn't a specialist know what the law is? I always use "corrections by a competent XXX". If the contractor they hired didn't know about the law, he/she was obviously incompetent. I believe Neil mentions the contractor specialty.

I'm with the others...include the SOP's in your report.


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Have you ever given names of trades people to clients as a customer service? Have you ever been sued for negligent referral? I have.

I have had two lawsuits in 21 years. I was sued once 15 years ago for giving the name of a company. They did drawings on my daughters school for a retaining wall and performed foundation crack repairs in Foster City on many homes I inspected as well as other inspectors that participate on this forum. Client/ plaintiff asked me the of name of an engineer to review settling and drainage issues mentioned in my report. The guy who I referred, unbeknownst to me, was an unlicensed engineer.  I got sued for not checking his credentials before referring, even though I recommended in writing they hire a qualified specialist. I have associated myself with many trade-people over the years and almost every day I am asked, do you know a good roofer, do you know a good electrician,etc.? I am sure many of inspectors are asked the same and provide the clients with some sort of referral.

There is a local company that many CREIA inspectors have referred for foundation and drainage issues in our area, as just one example. Do I now have to make sure that they and other respected trade persons are EPA Renovation Certified or not refer and change the way I have been doing business for 21 years now? That is why I will place that disclaimer in there.

Placing that disclaimer does not make me have a target on my back for other contaminant or other environmental omissions. My contract covers me for that. However , not placing that disclaimer puts a target on my back for negligent referral. My decision and opinion comes from real life experience.


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We are in the information business correct?   Why not provide what we know?   

If we see a big black nasty moldy area in a home do we ignore it?   

We see a failing retaining wall do we ignore it?

The kitchen appliances are not working.  Our SOPs say we do not test appliances.  Ignore them?   

You are placating to a certain class of realtors if you ignore obvious issues that are not part of our SOPs.  

I use the rule of thumb, if I was buying this home I would like to now all of the potential issues that may impact my purchase.  Others may not follow this but it has served me well over the years


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I used to refer that same structural company as they were one of the most well known structural companies in the area. Then,  I was admonished by a well known agent because they were known to have "to high prices".  Now I don't refer anyone to anything other than the phone book where there are several "qualified licensed professionals" available.

Just because we are in the information business does not require telling everyone everything we know. The inspector who taught me the job told me to never tell anyone that I was a C-39 , (roofing licensee) in case someone challenged a roof call out. Several times people have questioned me saying the roof was blah, blah, blah.  I just ask if they are licensed roofers?  No more issue. Information held close to the vest can sometimes be more valuable. As far as the environmental morass, I'll wait and see how it plays out before I add any more disclaimers. I am not a scientist, or a microbiologist, etc.


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Sorry to see you cave in to the agent's manipulation. I'll bet the agent doesn't drive a low priced economy car and I'll bet he/she doesn't live in a small efficient house either. And, I'll bet that along with the "high price" came quality that only a consummate professional can possess. Not giving referrals is a prudent decision that carries no liability. Giving referrals can come back to bite you. Be aware and careful. Know who you are referring. Don't refer the guy you just met who seemed very knowledgeable/good or promised to refer you.


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I take the "KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID" approach. I am quite COMFORTABLE with the CREIA SOP/CONTRACT that I use. I back that up with an introduction page that sets the clients expectations and finish with a page that defines WHAT IS BEYOND THE SCOPE. Your mileage may differ.

INTRODUCTION:
A non-invasive, limited visual inspection of the above-mentioned property was performed, at clients' request. Enclosed is our written report based on that inspection.  This report will give you information about the overall condition of this property. Our inspectors follow the Standards
of Practice set forth by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), a copy of which is available upon request. We will examine the readily accessible areas and systems of the home.
Cosmetic considerations are not within the scope of this report, since all properties have some degree of wear. There may be many items that even the most thorough inspection cannot reveal, which you may consider significant to ownership. Furthermore, owning any building involves some risk and while we can give an excellent overview of the property, we cannot inspect what we cannot see.
We do not move furniture, stored personal effects or dismantle any part of the home in the course of our inspection. We do not do an exhaustive technical evaluation of the property; such an inspection is available for an additional fee.

Your attention is directed to the INSPECTION AGREEMENT, a copy of which was provided; this letter makes it a part of the inspection report. It more specifically delineates the scope of the inspection and the limit of liability of the inspector and inspection company in performing this inspection. Please be sure to read and understand the scope of our inspection. We cannot make repairs nor refer contractors for repairs or maintenance on items which our report mentions, since we abide by the Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics of CREIA and the California Business &
Professions Code.

NOTE: The client is strongly advised to further investigate or contract with appropriate persons to further investigate any and/all conditions/items in the inspection report not listed as (S) Serviceable, or are Inoperable, Beyond the scope of a CREIA Inspection or which may have been disclosed by others or which you may be concerned before the close of escrow or sooner if your residential purchase agreement has a contingency time limit.