Take a look at this house. There's lots of houses just like it and when I arrive on scene the first thing I do as a lead inspector is take elevation shots. My job as an inspector is to establish elevations A, B, C and D. Sounds simple enough right? The A side is always the address side, and then I work counter clockwise until I make my way around to the other side. At this point I'm not really inspecting for cracked paint just yet, I'm looking for structural issues like what type of siding does the house have? Does it have any damage to the brick and concrete in the foundation, is there any exposed bare soil along the dripline of the foundation? I'm doing all of this while I walk around taking elevation shots. Then I arrive back at elevation A and I start looking at the paint on the trim, porch, front door, address plate, windows, etc etc. If you want to pass the inspection you've got to look at all the painted surfaces of the home and ask yourself was it done right or does it need to be done? Simply put is the paint smooth or is it cracking and peeling. Take a look at this front window here in figure 1001.A -
At first glance it just looks like two windows with black trim. But look a little closer at the image and you're notice in the center there appears to be something rough on the surface. Now take a closer look in the following image of the same window, this time we're zooming in on the paint-
Upon closer inspection you can see that the trim around the window was recently painted but whoever painted the trim didn't bother to stabilize the old paint and instead they simply painted over the old. What happens in cases like this is the old paint is positive for toxic lead and because the surface is not stable it's a hazard. The crazy part is that the black paint is a Non Lead Based Paint- the toxic lead positive paint is actually the old paint that the painter never bothered to scrape off. I know this because I tested areas where the surface was smooth and it came back negative for lead based paint. The testing method used was an XRF analyzer and so we know for a fact that the black paint is not toxic but the paint under it is, and so therefore the entire trim needs to be addressed now as a Lead Hazard. So whatever money the landlord paid to the person who painted over an unstable surface is now money wasted and it's going to cost them even more because now that the Lead Inspection is done the landlord is obligated to use an RRP Certified Worker who must use the proper EPA approved methods to stabilize and implement abatement or interim controls. The following picture shows the levels of toxic lead in micro grams per centimeter squared-
Here the XRF analyzer shows the reading came back at 9.2 mg/cm. Now we've got to coordinate with the RRP Contractor the scope of work and recommend what to do to correct the unstable surface so the rental property owner can get their compliance certificate from the City of Detroit. If fact the entire home on the exterior has a similar paint history. Whoever did the painting didn't bother to prep the surface before they painted, decided to slap some black paint on the house giving no consideration to quality of work. The investor on this one is an out of town investor and was counting on the property manager to provide the service that they needed to pass inspection, unfortunately that didn't happen in this case. That's why I tell everyone to take advantage of our Cursory Exams. Pre Closing Inspection cursory exams are designed to determine what steps you need to take as a property owner and or property manager so you can be prepared for the inspection before it happens so you can have a better chance of passing the inspection on the first round. Let's go inside this property now and have a look, let me show you how the inspection process works so you won't make the same mistakes. Inside the home the unit looked great, new paint on the walls and ceilings with new carpet and light fixtures. Everything you'd expect for a rental turn around. From the looks of it, this house is "Rent Ready" right? WRONG! Let me show you what I mean-
Classic two tone paint job. Tan on the walls with white ceilings and white trim. We tested all the painted surfaces, we call this the testing combination. In this particular inspection the test combination was wall, door casing, door rail, door panel, door jamb, base molding and ceiling. We also tested the windows in our combination as well. And that's what I want to highlight and drill into your mind, make sure the windows are tight. The steps you need to take before we get there is make sure the window troughs are clean and there is no chipping and peeling paint. Take a look at what we found in the window troughs and on the separation bead, window stop trim and jamb-
As you can see these windows are a hot mess testing positive for Toxic Lead Based Paint. Now ask yourself as a landlord or property manager, is it worth it to clean these windows up or simply replace them? Depending on your budget you may have no choice but to clean them up and stabilize the chipping and peeling paint. Using mechanical and or chemical methods and remember you're dealing with a toxic lead component so caution should be used. Here's DIY video on how to deal with old windows if you're not going to replace them-
Now remember, if we haven't done the inspection yet then we don't know if it's lead based paint for sure until the inspection is done. And if you were to have done a Cursory Exam we still haven't tested any of the surfaces for toxic lead, a Cursory Exam is only going to make recommendations based on our experience as licensed Lead Inspectors what you should do to stabilize possible hot spots so you can pass. Remember, the unit doesn't have to be "Lead FREE" it only has to be "Lead SAFE" and these are tips on how to do it. And remember, vacuum out the window troughs, stabilize the chipping and peeling paint, wash it down with hot water and soap and ensure every surface throughout the home is stable. That means either it's got an acceptable texture or it's smooth. Call us with questions, make an appointment and we'll be more than happy to come out and consult with you on your project.