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What to Do Before Renovating Your Home

Thinking about renovating your home? If you are a do-it-yourselfer or hiring a professional, there are some health precautions you should know about before you begin a renovation project.

Exposure to lead and asbestos can cause serious health problems. To protect the health of Vermont families, there are state laws that set rules for how renovation work needs to be done. These laws is designed to prevent and lessen exposure to lead and asbestos while working on your home.

Lead-Safe Work Practices: Renovating, Repairing and Painting a Pre-1978 Home

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used in paint, stain and varnish until 1978. If lead-based paint is not handled properly during renovation, repair or painting work on your home, it can cause lead poisoning. If you live in a home that was built before 1978, Vermont law requires you to presume that all painted and coated surfaces contain lead. 

Lead-based paint becomes a hazard when it is disturbed and turns into dust. Children, pregnant people and adults can be exposed to lead by breathing in or swallowing lead dust. 

If you are hiring a contractor

If you hire someone to work on your pre-1978 home, they are required by Vermont law to be licensed. Vermont’s Renovation, Repair, Painting and Maintenance (RRPM) regulations require for-compensation workers to have Lead-Safe RRPM licenses when they disturb lead-based paint. They are also required to follow lead-safe work practices

Follow these steps to make sure your contractor is lead-safe licensed

If you are a landlord, Vermont law requires you to comply with the Inspection, Repair and Cleaning (IRC) Practices

If you are doing the work yourself

There are no lead licensing or permitting requirements for you to do work on your own home. However, you should follow lead-safe work practices and never use prohibited practices

Unsafe work practices that disturb lead-based paint will create lead hazards (see Section 2.2.28). Under Vermont law, if lead hazards are created in any building or structure, you will be responsible for the cleanup that will require you to hire a Vermont-licensed lead abatement contractor.

Watch the video below for tips on how to do painting, repair and home improvement in a lead-safe way.

Asbestos in Building Materials

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is used in many types of building construction materials (for example, insulation, as a fire retardant, and to enhance the strength of building materials). Asbestos-containing materials are not dangerous unless they are damaged or disturbed in a way that creates dust. Vermont law requires you to presume that asbestos-containing materials are in your home. 

If they are not handled properly during renovation, repair or demolition work, asbestos fibers can be released into the air. Anyone can be exposed to asbestos by breathing in asbestos fibers. Exposure to asbestos fibers increases your risk of having serious health effects — such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Find out what you need to do before beginning a renovation, repair or demolition

More Information
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Asbestos and Your Health (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
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Protect Your Family from Exposures to Asbestos (EPA)
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Don’t Spread Lead: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Lead-Safe Painting, Repair, and Home Improvement (New England Lead Coordinating Committee)
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Lead Paint Safety (Department of Housing and Urban Development)
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