by Jakob Barry
If you're thinking of renovating, beware of these materials and regulations before you build. All of the following have been banned in certain regions of the country. Check your local codes.
1. Lead: Lead paint was banned by the US government in 1978 but still exists in millions of homes and buildings. Effects of exposure, which include behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and death, can also result from contaminated dust or soil. As of April 22, 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all renovators working on more than six square-feet of lead paint in homes built pre-1978 be Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) certified. Test your house for lead paint.
2. Asbestos: On July 12, 1989, the EPA banned most asbestos-containing products. In 1991 the regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which resulted in the banning of only flooring felt, roll board, corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper, and new uses of asbestos.
4. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA): CCA is a wood preservative banned from most residential uses towards the beginning of 2004. Containing arsenic it causes cancer and other illnesses. Decks and playground equipment are common places treated with CCA. Burning wood treated with CCA can release toxic substances into the air.
5. Composting toilets: Despite the benefits permission varies from state to state and sometimes from county to county. Both health and environmental concerns are considered regarding allowing/opposing composting toilets. Where sewage lines exist there is even less of a chance to gain permission.
6. Earthquake-safe foundations: For good reason California has one of the strictest set of building codes in the country revised every few years and after events (quakes). New codes update masonry, mortar, and brick laying techniques, bolting tops of buildings to foundations, and retrofitting building. If roofs aren't designed to fall inward from the center and the structure does not have strength to withstand horizontal shifting there's a problem. Elsewhere in the country, codes can be left up to local authorities and vary widely so be sure to do your research.
7. Wind generators: Nearly all turbines meet the NEC standards but you can't just put one up. Regulations vary from state to state over safety and aesthetic concerns. It's best to work with an environmental group that may intervene on your behalf or provide assistance through the process.
8. Temporary structures: These may be used for entertainment, construction, or dwelling but are not tents on a camp ground. They could include trailers, fencing, toilets, stages and platforms --all things that don't involve altering land and securing a foundation. In almost all cases they need a permit or you could be forcibly removed and fined.
9. Construction for hurricane prone areas: Hurricanes crash into the east coast and gulf coast states every year. In some areas of Florida the following are banned: wood that is not pressure-treated, windows that are not 150 miles per hour tested with plastic panes, concrete not with steal. Codes try to limit the amount of flying debris that could result from a serious storm. Storm-proof your roof.
10. Polybutylene Pipes: Used from the late 70s until mid 1990s this material replaced copper piping as an inexpensive alternative. In the 1980s the piping began to fail causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Since 1996 it was taken off the market but still exists in many homes making them prone to leaks resulting in severe structural damage.