Is peeling lead paint a deal breaker for a fix & flip?

18 Replies

Have not yet made a purchase. However, my husband and I have toured several homes and found one that shows a lot of potential. It was built in 1900 and has lots of character that just needs to shine through the decades of love. The problem is that the house likely has lead paint on the exterior and the interior and the exterior is peeling badly. The asking price is $133,900. The ARV according the our agent is $250K. I have read that abatement for lead can be in the $10's of thousands. It is a two story home (1450 SF) with 3 bedrooms 1 bath with a full unfinished basement and a small house 1b/1b with a full kitchen out in the back that could be used as an income generator for the new home owner. We are worried that lead paint that is in bad shape might be a deal breaker for our budget. Does anyone have any insight on the cost of dealing with lead paint and does the federal government offer grants to help with the costs? Or maybe the state (Oregon)?

Lead base paint could be a nightmare.

You need to spend more money to hire lead based paint certified license contractor to do the work. Otherwise, government could give you a big fine.

I read stories online that some owner get fines for the government like $32k or $50k that they didn’t hire the lead based paint certified license contractor to do the renovations.

That’s why I’m not buying any properties built before 1979.

Google it yourself online, and you will find more information

@Kim Horn

I haven't heard or read of any federal assistance for abating lead paint, so you're probably on your own. 

"According to the EPA, professional lead-based paint removal for the following three options costs about $8 to $15 per square foot or about $9,600 to $30,000 for a 1,200- to 2,000-sq. ft. house. The average removal project costs about $10,000."

As you can see, this isn't a cheap fix. Not sure what the rules are federally or locally, but you may want to see if you can encapsulate the paint instead of abating it.

Hi @Kim Horn . Lead paint may be more than you want to tackle for a first project. 

That said, if the house has been on the market for a long time, you could get it at a price that works. Call a lead paint abatement company, and give them the basics. "How much would it cost to abate lead paint in a 4 bed/3 bath 1800 square feet home built in 1925?" Ask them for a range, and say you're just getting started in the process. I did this for a meth house in my area, and determined that it wouldn't be feasible for me to purchase.

Run the numbers based on this information. Just because it's listed at $133 doesn't mean they'll get anything close to that...

There are millions of homes in the U.S.A with lead based paint. It is not required to remove it. State and local laws will vary, but federal law simply requires that you disclose this information to tenants and or buyers. Peeling paint can be remedied several different ways to prevent it from peeling or at least slow down the process including, but not limited to painting the house.

   Hi @Mindy Jensen . The house in question has been on the market for around 190 days.  The second house in the back had someone back into the front and did damage to the kitchen wall and the seller is entertaining cash offers only. I agree that it may be more that I can handle as a first project. I will call around and see what lead abatement entities say. 

@Kim Horn Holy crap, there are a lot of misleading posts here. LBP renovator here. First you need lead and asbestos test results (normally they go together, but some companies can do only lead), then after that, you send that to the abatement company, then you get a table bid. Without the result you will be shopping in blind and you won’t get anything close to what you’re looking for. The abatement company can be a 2-3 man crew but mostly they are 200+ which makes a very big difference in price, a small family owned abatement company is 30-50% cheaper than union run (200+) manpower. Good luck.

One of the most misleading info: LBP not needed to be removed — wrong. if your touching it, you need to abate it. Painting over it is a violation, unless you are painting without touching or risking the lbp chip to fly or fall off. But to do paint correctly, you need to scrape peeling parts, primer and paint, which means you need to touch it and triggers the violation.

@Manolo D. I was searching on lead based paint and came across your post. I was looking for some tips from other investors on how to deal with lead paint.

Just curious if that’s a California regulation on not being able to paint over LBP?

@John Hickey It’s federal, an EPA law. You can paint over LBP so long as you don’t scrape, sand, or peel anything — basically you don’t remove anything more than a specific number of square feet if memory serves right it is 6 square feet, that is 3 feet x 2 feet, that almost never occurs on any rehabs/repair job.

@Manolo D. I could be wrong I’m no lawyer or expert on law.

It sounds to me your mixing up the laws.

I would advise anyone dealing with real estate......with lead paint to take all the laws seriously, and learn how to deal with Lead. Not knowing can cost big $$$. Abatement is heavy duty. If your ordered to abate it’s going to cost some money.

OP didn’t mention they were ordered to do abatement.

If your not ordered to do an abatement then RRP firm is the way to go.

Where I’m working RRP firms are pretty much every paint company and most Reno firms. They are so used to dealing with lead most of the firms have a few employees certified.

I have two RRP guys from a Reno co working for me right now. They get paid 18$ an hour. I don’t pay them direct it’s part of the bid. The regs (plastic sheeting, negative air, double bagging debris) make the work a bit more costly but it’s pretty standard at this point I think I have been paying RRPs for 8 years now....

Can't you just use siding to side over it and cover it completely if it's on the outside of the house? They'll aluminum wrap the window and door frames. I imagine this is fine unless there is an open lead paint complaint open with the town.

@Julie N. your right that’s def an option. Might end up costing more tho. Vinyl isn’t cheaper than paint.

a lot of folks (around here)like the looks of the old siding. I bought a colonial last year 5k sf. Sheets of paint the size of a mans hand we’re coming off. + for lead paint.

Cost us 12k to paint it with a local RRP. Prob would have cost about the same if it hadn’t been lead paint. We would still have used plastic sheeting. all the painters are RRPs they don’t charge more by the hour for the guys that are certified bc almost every house here needing work was built before 1979. They just charge more bc were in westchester.

One thing that held us back a bit was that you can’t use a power sander on lead paint. So on the trims we just rip them off and replace. If not for that we would power sand but the labor to replace is lower the material cost is higher and it def looks better so I would say it’s a wash.

@John Hickey What law am did I mix up? On top of those you mentioned, there is also a chain of custody that you need to make sure they dump it on the correct landfill. RRPs is the easy part, dumping is not. 18/hr is non existent in CA.

@Kim Horn

"the house likely has lead paint on the exterior and the interior"

"Likely" and "Known Lead paint" are two completely different scenarios. 

Good Luck!

@Manolo D. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like what you say below. The 6sf rule yes of course but not the part where you can’t paint over lead paint.

I could be wrong but I think your confusing abatement and RRP laws.

Here is what you said.......

“You can paint over LBP so long as you don’t scrape, sand, or peel anything — basically you don’t remove anything more than a specific number of square feet if memory serves right it is 6 square feet, that is 3 feet x 2 feet, that almost never occurs on any rehabs/repair job”

Is that part of an epa law? Can you remember which one?

@John Hickey It’s been a while since I’ve had that LBP training, but had 2 jobs recently (1 small at 4k and the other at 35 this year) which are asbestos abatement jobs. The rules of abatement are the same, double bagging for small jobs, in my case, enclosed container that will go directly to a hazardous landfill. The rules will also be the same when scraping, sanding, or during the repair process. The point of the RRP is to not leave any hazardous lead paint in the house, even dust, so as long as you know how to remove them safely (equipped with overalls, masks, and all that good stuff) you are good. How you throw away the contaminated stuff (scraped or dust when sanding paint) is a different story. Also, lead is not that concerning, it affects majorly children who are on their developing stage and it takes an enormous amount of lead to get lead poisoning, so if I was to do a job, i’ll do it in a manner where i’ll meet minimum just to avoid penalties.

There is a grey area on abatement, if the job is really small, and you hire someone like a local dump guy aka Demolition Call 555-1234 from Home Depot lot, once it hits the curb, their responsible, however, you will not have the chain of custody report which the epa will look in case of investigations.

@John Hickey I just re-read your post, so I believe a scenario will be best. Say you scrape 50 sf of lbp positive and a couple of “paint chips” fall on the floor, now if you pick up those paint chips and bag them, then throw them away, then it means that you are doing an abatement, from the time it landed on the floor to the time that it will hit landfill, that’s abatement. I did say you CAN paint over LBP, if you don’t disturb it, it is still not safe but you will not get fined.

@Manolo D. Nothing personal but from reading your posts in this topic, the statement you made I agree most with is you took the training a long time ago.

Kim Horn if your interested in older houses shop around first for your renovator. In the case you present above, and if this was me I would hire a lead safe certified firm. Every legitimate paint co I work with has this certification. It’s a one day course. Not something to worry and fret about but you need to have a goto company that knows what they are doing and have all cert up to date and follow the practices. If they get caught not following the law the fines are crazy. But it’s easy enough to follow the law and the reasons to follow are simple. If you don’t clean up the lead you can poison a child and destroy that kids life. That’s why the fines are so high.

If your going to do a lot of this type of house, take the course. It’s 8 hours. When you do inspections..... do your own lead tests( once your comfortable you know what your doing) so you can find out where the lead is. This can affect your Reno budget....but you can also use it as a negotiation tool.

I didn’t get certified for liability reasons and I don’t do the work myself for the same reason. But now I know the laws and all the details.

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