February, 2012
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

EPA Says Additional Lead Paint Cleaning Rules Not Necessary


The EPA announced Friday, July 15, that it will not be promulgating additional Clearance and Clearance Testing Requirements to the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (LRRP).

After consideration of public comments submitted on the proposed LRRP amendment and a review of available science, the EPA has concluded that current LRRP cleaning requirements and mandated lead-safe work regulations are sufficient to protect the public from lead dust hazards.

A signed, pre-publication version of the final rule posted to the EPA website states the following:

EPA has decided not to promulgate dust wipe testing and clearance requirements as proposed. However, EPA is promulgating several other revisions to the RRP rule, including a provision allowing a certified renovator to collect a paint-chip sample and send it to a recognized laboratory for analysis in lieu of using a lead-test kit, minor changes to the training program accreditation application process, standards for e-learning in accredited training programs, minimum enforcement provisions for authorized state and tribal renovation programs, and minor revisions to the training and certification requirements for renovators. EPA is also promulgating clarifications to the requirements for vertical containment on exterior renovation projects, the prohibited or restricted work practice provisions, and the requirements for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums. Today's action is EPA's final action on all aspects of the May 6, 2010, proposal.

Source: www.epa.gov

Weatherization Works!

By Tim Warfield, Executive Director, National Association for State Community Services Programs

The federal low-income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has been a highly successful and effective investment in the American workforce and for low-income families nationwide. In fact, WAP is the largest residential energy conservation program in the nation and performs a vital role in reducing the burden of high energy prices on low-income families.  Overall, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) weatherization program has improved the homes and lives of over 534,208 low-income families through August 2011, while supporting over 14,000 jobs.

WAP Program funds improve the energy efficiency of low-income dwellings utilizing the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry.  Since the program's inception, more than 6.8 million homes have been weatherized using federal, state, utility and other monies.

Energy Performance Starts at the Building Envelope

By C.C. Sullivan and Barbara Horwitz-Bennett

Until recently, it has been lighting, mechanical and control system upgrades, which have received the most attention in the green building movement. At long last, the industry is now recognizing building enclosures as a long-lost treasure of potential savings.

Embracing what building scientists have been saying for years, there is now a widespread understanding that a well-insulated, airtight, energy-efficient building envelope can make a significant difference in overall energy use and operating efficiencies.

Creating high-performing building envelopes begins with the choice of framing. Consequently, in place of traditional framing, designers and contractors should carefully consider a number of viable alternatives, according to Lee Durston, director of building science, BS, CBST, with A/E firm BCRA, Tacoma, Wash.

Source: Building Design + Construction, www.bdcnetwork.com

FHA Extends Waiver of Anti-Flipping Regulations Through 2012

In an effort to continue stabilizing home values and improve conditions in communities experiencing high foreclosure activity, the Federal Housing Administration extended a temporary waiver of FHA's anti-flipping regulations through 2012.

This extension is intended to accelerate the resale of foreclosed properties in neighborhoods struggling to overcome the possible effects of abandonment and blight.
With certain exceptions, FHA rules prohibit insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. In 2010, however, FHA temporarily waived this regulation through January 31, 2011, and later extended that waiver through the remainder of 2011. The new extension will permit buyers to continue to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties or properties resold through private sales. It will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities.

The new extension is effective through December 31, 2012, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by FHA. The Waiver continues to be limited to sales meeting the following conditions:

• All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction;

• In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller's acquisition cost, the waiver will apply only if the lender meets specific conditions and documents the justification for the increase in value; and

• The waiver is limited to forward mortgages and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program.

Source: www.hud.gov

New Residential Sales

Sales of new single-family houses in Nov. 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This is above the revised Oct. rate of 310,000 and  the Nov. 2010 estimate of 287,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in Nov. 2011 was $214,100; the average sales price was $242,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of November was 158,000. This represents a supply of 6.0 months at the current sales rate.