Archive for the ‘contractors’ Category

Planning Some Renovation on Your Rental Property? Be Ready to Comply With EPA Lead Paint Regulations

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.

As owners of a relatively small number of rental properties, it may be tempting to think that we are exempt from the regulations that apply to people who own real estate empires. We can just wander into our rental homes, hammer in hand, and do our little renovation projects, right? We are, after all, captains of our own ship, and masters of our own destiny.

Hold on there, Sherlock, EPA begs to differ.

Get certified or get out of Dodge

Property owners who renovate, repair, or prepare surfaces for painting in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must, before beginning work, provide tenants with a copy of EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet “Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools.” Owners of these rental properties must document compliance with this requirement. EPA has a sample “pre-renovation disclosure form” to guide you.

As of April 22, 2010, property owners who perform these projects in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must be certified and must follow the lead-safe work practices required by EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Remodeling rule. To become certified, property owners must submit an “application for firm certification” and fee payment to EPA. The Agency has up to 90 days after receiving a complete request for certification to approve or disapprove the application.

Steps to take before beginning a project

Property owners who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs in rental property should:

1. Take training to learn how to perform lead-safe work practices.
2. Learn the lead laws that apply to you regarding certification and lead-safe work practices.
3. Keep records to demonstrate that you and your workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that you follow lead-safe work practices on the job. To make recordkeeping easier, you may use the “sample recordkeeping checklist” that EPA has developed to help contractors comply with the renovation recordkeeping requirements.
4. Read about how to comply with EPA’s rule in the “EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.”
5. Read about how to use lead-safe work practices in EPA’s “Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.”

Do the new rules apply to my project?

The rule must be followed when “repair or maintenance activities disturb more than 6 square feet of paint per room inside, or more than 20 square feet on the exterior of a home or building.” Renovation is defined as any activity that disturbs painted surfaces and includes most repair, remodeling, and maintenance activities, including window replacement.

What is my motivation to comply?

Fines for violating rule requirements can be up to $37,500 per incident, per day.

What if I hire a contractor?

If you have the work performed by an outside contractor, you should make sure that contractor has the proper training/certification.

You can verify that a contractor is certified by checking EPA’s website at or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). You can also ask to see a copy of the contractor’s firm certification.

Realtors, and property managers are all also affected by these EPA regulations.

For more information, see the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting site

Due Diligence and Property Inspection, Part 9: Qualifying the Inspectors

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Termites, a relentless foe in rental houses

Friday, November 16th, 2007

In the fixer upper rental house business, we must constantly monitor the status of our property.

I was reminded of this again when we discovered that we had termites in one of our bedrooms. This is a fixer upper house that we are living in as we make repairs; soon to be a rental house. My son bumped his foot against the floor trim and found that there was no longer any wood trim there. All that was left was the the shell of the paint in the form of the trim. The wood had been completely eaten by termites.

Hiring a Pest Control Professional

I usually like to do all fix-up type repairs myself, but this is a case where I let the exterminators (no relation to the California governor) do the work. The first few companies I called would not give me a quote over the phone. The one company that gave me a “rough estimate” came in at a budget busting $1500 to $2,000 for a 1600 sq.ft. house. The job must be based on the square footage of the house, so it’s not rocket science to calculate the cost. It makes it impossible to compare companies if they all have to come to the house before they can give me an estimate! They think that after you invest the time to have them come over, you’ll just fall for their sales pitch, rather than spend any more time finding the best deal (and at the same time you’re concerned that your house is crumbling from the relentless termite onslaught).

So, I kept calling. After several more calls I connected with A-OK Termite and Pest Control and they really were “A-OK” because they gave me a bid of $650 without a house business. They did the job last Saturday.

Termite Living Habits

Yikes! Termites

Here in the desert southwest, we have subterranean termites, which I believe are the singlemost common type. They live in colonies deep within the ground, sometimes to depths of 25 feet. Termites work their way up through the soil from their nest and enter any wood they can. Termites can gain entrance by crawling up the sides of foundations, building mud shelter tubes to shield them from light, or they can go up hollow sections in block foundations or up cracks in the poured concrete foundations.

Every 48 hours or so termites must return to the soil to get moisture or they will die. The exterminator (again, no connection to Arnold) sets up a barrier of chemicals in the soil that the termites cannot pass through. They usually inject chlordane into the the soil every eighteen inches around the entire house. The same procedure can be done inside the house.

Even if only one part of the house is infested, the entire house must be termite-proofed or the termites will migrate to the untreated parts.

The time it takes termites to do serious damage varies from only a couple of years to 10 or more years. So, if you think you might have termites, don’t put off taking care of them too long. If it’s been 5 years since the last treatment it’s time to have the house inspected.

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A quick way to calculate contractor charges

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

For a good article on how to calculate contractor charges, check out the article at rants, raves and real estate. Blogger Spencer Barron suggests calculating the maximum that you should pay for repairs with the formula

Cost of materials + Hourly labor cost (time *
number of workers * 10%) = Most you should have to pay.

For paygrade Barron substitutes $30 for unskilled and $50-$75 for skilled. Don’t get caught unprepared and wind up being overcharged. Do your calculations before you hire a contractor, and only hire a contractor who is charging a fair price.

Info on Terry’s Book

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