Trivia Time: chipping paint, FHA, and properties built before and after 1978

If you’re a buyer, real estate agent or loan officer, you’re probably deeply aware that if a property built before 1978 has chipping paint, that’s a situation that needs to be cured if you are doing an FHA loan.  

Why is that? Before 1978 lead-base paint was used, so if there is a defective paint surface on a house (chipping, flaking or peeling paint), then little Johnny shouldn’t be able to pull away pieces of paint for a quick snack. That smells like a health and safety issue to me (and HUD).

What about properties built after 1978? If a house has flaking paint, but was built in 1993, does the paint surface have to be cured? Obviously there shouldn’t be lead-base paint because the house was built post-1978, so it should be okay, right?

I asked this question last week at a presentation I gave at the Sacramento Association of Realtors and I think there was some confusion in the room on this point. Here’s the deal. The defective paint surface DOES have to be cured because FHA is not okay with bare wood which could lead to wood decay and not support the longevity of the property. The rule of thumb then is that if there is a defective paint surface, regardless of the age, the surface must be properly cured.

I hope this was helpful. Keep me posted if you have any questions. Call me at 916.595.3735, email and catch me on Facebook.


  1. says

    Thanks for bringing light to the subject of lead-based paint here in Sacramento. I would like to share a few more points.
    Pre-1978 housing does not always contain lead-based paint and additional costs could be saved by testing and showing it to be negative. Also contractors must follow the EPA Lead Rule (RRP) with more costs if lead-based paint is assumed, but is exempt if proven negative by a certified lead inspector.
    Also, we were all given poor advice that children eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. In fact, most cases are from the lead dust created when the paint is improperly contained when scraped, or disturbed during wood repairs. Also contaminated soil around the outside when old paint that falls and the paint dissolves but the lead remains. Then child hand-to-mouth activity poisons the child.

    • says

      Thanks Jeff. I appreciate your insight. It looks like you can probably do these types of test (based on your URL). I know HUD has a very thick guide on dealing with a defective paint surface. Soil contamination is definitely an issue too. Thanks again.

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