What is a BMP Certificate in Lake Tahoe?
A common question I get as a Tahoe REALTOR® is What is a BMP Certificate in Lake Tahoe?, and why do I need one? Followed by any one of the following questions:
- What is a BMP Certificate in Lake Tahoe?
- Does this property have a BMP (Best Management Practices) certificate?
- Can I tell from a MLS listing if a property has a BMP Certificate?
- Is having a BMP Certificate a point of sale requirement?
- What will it cost to get a BMP Certificate on a Lake Tahoe Basin property?
- Who issues the BMP Certificate?
- How long does it take to get a BMP Certificate once the work has been done? When can my BMP property work be done?
- If the deadline has passed, why does this Seller not have a BMP Certificate?
- Can I get in trouble for not having a BMP Certificate?
When I am showing Lake Tahoe basin properties, I always point out properties that do have a BMP certificate and those properties that most likely do not have a BMP Certificate. Our buyers are sophisticated and they always have good questions about the BMP topic that every Lake Tahoe Basin home Buyer and Seller needs to be aware of, ask about and understand.
So let’s start with the basics – What is a BMP Certificate in Lake Tahoe?
BMP stands for Best Management Practices and it is a land/building retrofit program that has been set-up by the bi-state (California and Nevada) agency known as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA).
The TRPA is an agency that leads the environmental effort for both California and Nevada in the Lake Tahoe Basin. That means that the TRPA is involved in what is built-in the area, where it is built, the size of what is built, along with the areas of development.
The TRPA is the agency that provides the balance to building and development in the Lake Tahoe Basin area, along with preserving, restoring, and enhancing the relationship between man, urban areas, and nature.
BMP property certification, which is required to be in place on all properties in the Tahoe Basin (California and Nevada) per TRPA Code of Ordinances Subsection 60.4.6.A, is an environmental retrofit program that is designed to improve the water quality in Lake Tahoe by addressing how water runs off of all developed properties. The BMP retrofit program is an Environmental Improvement Program (EIP).
How does it work? Summary: In a nutshell, the BMP Certificate program is designed to address how the water (snow/rain/water from your property) is handled once it sheds off your hard surfaces with the goal of getting as much of it back into the ground rather than having it run down the street collecting oil, toxins, and other nasty items and then ending up back in Lake Tahoe.
Once that water hits the ground, the goal is to have it go directly into the ground by the use of roof drip lines (sometimes called French rock drains), driveway drains (channel drains) into drywells, and then by using selected vegetation and/or ground coverage on hard, uncovered ground surfaces, water can be captured on the property and moved into the earth/dirt, which can then act as a natural filtration system (think about how water moves through a filter to clean the water) removing the environmental toxins/foreign materials out of the water, which will eventually end up in Lake Tahoe.
Does this property have a BMP (Best Management Practices) certificate? As a Tahoe home buyer you’ll ask your real estate agent does this property have a BMP certificate? To answer that question either you, or your agent can go to the TRPA BMP website and search by the County Assessor Parcel Number (APN) to confirm the actual BMP certificate status, and we can also call to confirm that status.
When we are looking at properties, looking up APN#’s may not be practical while we are at a property, so we can also take an educated guess on whether a property has done their BMP work by looking for the following items on a property:
Physical signs that a property may have done their BMP work, are working on getting their certificate, or have a current BMP certificate:
Rock/gravel under and around a deck area.
A driveway drain is also sign that BMP work has been done on a Lake Tahoe property.
Just as a FYI, properties that completed their BMP work when the BMP program was first implemented back in the late early 2000’s may not have a driveway drain, but may have a dip, or bump to move water to the side of the driveway.
Originally property owners had some options to either build a pavement/asphalt hump into the driveway to channel water, or they could cut and put in a driveway drain in to direct water into a drywell by the side of the driveway. A driveway drain is not always a tell-tale sign of not having a BMP certificate, but some type of driveway work it’s a good sign that BMP work may have been done, or at least started.
Can I tell from an MLS listing if a property has a BMP Certificate? No. Unfortunately at this time the Tahoe Sierra Multiple Listing Service (TSMLS) does not require, or have an input data field for this information for Lake Tahoe Homes for Sale, but I do think it’s a great idea.
Currently, the only way to find out if a property has a BMP certificate will be to either look it up on the TRPA website, or call the TRPA to get this information. Your Tahoe REALTOR® can help you get this information and is a great reason to use a local real estate agent to help you buy, or sell in the area!
Buyer Tip: The only way to know for sure is to verify the BMP property status with the TRPA BMP website, or call and confirm the information. Even if a property is showing that is has a property certificate, as your broker we recommend that all buyers investigate, confirm information, and satisfy themselves that the information they have received is current and accurate.
Is having a BMP Certificate a point of sale requirement? At this time (2016), having a current, and in good standing BMP Certificate is not a point of sale requirement. Property owners and Tahoe home buyers should be aware that there was an effort to make having a BMP Certificate a point of sale requirement as recently as the fall of 2014, however, the topic was tabled, and in my opinion will be raised again in a couple of years, if not sooner.
Tahoe Home Buyer Tip: You should always ask if a property has a BMP certificate for single family, multi-unit, and commercial properties for a property you are considering making an offer on.
Tahoe Condo Buyer Tip: If you are buying into a condominium/townhouse development, the Home Owners Association (HOA) will be responsible for getting the entire complex BMP certified, along with the individual units. It’s a good idea to ask if the individual unit has a BMP Certificate. If it doesn’t, ask is if the HOA is working on getting into compliance, and will there be a special cost assessment to do that work.
What will it cost to get a BMP Certificate on a Lake Tahoe Basin property? That depends on the property. While I am not a BMP cost estimator, and my recommendation to my buyers is to get a price quote from a reliable, local BMP Company so you’ll know what the expected cost is for the property they are looking to buy.
In general, based upon the BMP cost quotes that I reviewed for clients during 2015, on average, the BMP price work quotes were running at least $4,000+ to do the work on a relatively level lot, with a driveway that was 2 cars wide, but costs can vary so it does pay to shop around.
Properties with unpaved driveways, or unpaved allowable parking pads, will start with a price tag of $7,500+, or more depending on how big of an area will need to be paved, which is the big-ticket item in doing the BMP work.
One of the biggest single cost items on the BMP work estimates these days is coming from the cost to either pave the driveway, or to install the driveway drain(s), which seems to be running at a cost of at least $2,000 per driveway drain. Driveways that are larger, or circular will be more expensive.
A few items that can add and increase the cost to complete a property BMP Certificate work:
- If the home is a lakefront, waterfront, or riverfront property
- If the property has an environmentally sensitive zone (wetlands, seasonal stream, or drainage area)
- If the lot is steep up and/or down
- Large areas of uncovered dirt with signs of past run-offs
- Unpaved driveway and/or parking pad area (a BMP retrofit application will need to be used) as the cost of paving those areas will be an additional cost for the property owner.
Tahoe Buyer and Seller Tip: Buyers and sellers can negotiate as to who shall pay for BMP work. As a Tahoe seller you’ll help yourself by getting a BMP cost estimate from a local BMP company that will guarantee to get a BMP Certificate for your property if they do the work.
It typically takes several months to complete the process, so holding up a sale to get your final certificate is not a position you want to be in, so know what your options are as seller, before that buyer makes an offer on your property.
As a buyer if the seller does not have a price quote for that work, and in the negotiation process has countered you and will not pay for BMP work, as a buyer, you’ll want to get a cost quote while you are in escrow so you’ll have a good idea as to what it will take to get the property into a complaint status.
Who issues the BMP Certificate?
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) will issue the certificate of completion upon a site inspection to verify that the property is now compliant and has met the necessary requirements.
How long does it take to get a BMP Certificate once the work has been done?
This past summer (2015) the wait to get a site verification appointment was running 6-8 weeks from the time the request was made for the review. As a general rule of thumb, it typically only takes a few days to do the BMP certificate work, however, it most likely will take 3-4 months from start to finish once the work begins on your property to complete the BMP certification process using a professional BMP company in the area and then having the TRPA sign off on that work and then issue the certificate for the property.
Remember this is a seasonal activity (late April early May through early November, or until the ground freezes). Local BMP Companies get booked-up quickly, so there most likely will be a wait to get into their work schedule the later in the season you schedule your work.
When can my BMP property work be done?
BMP work will most likely need to be done between May 1 – October 15, as that is when grading, and the movement of more than 7 cubic square feet of soil can be moved, but it may be able to be done as early as April and as late as November/December depending on what needs to be done and the time of year when the ground will be unfrozen and the work can be easily done.
Tahoe Buyer Tip: Asking a seller to complete and get their BMP Certificate after October 15 and before May 1, or during your escrow (sales period) at any time of year is most likely not going to happen for the following four reasons:
- 1) There are strict restrictions on how much soil can be moved, and grading is not allowed during the time period (no paving of driveways/parking pads)
- 2) Frozen ground can make the physical work very difficult.
- 3) Snow coverage on the ground can prevent the TRPA from completing their site inspection – no site inspection, no certificate.
- 4) The time to do the work, and get the completed sign-off is most likely going to take at least 3-4 months, much longer than the typical escrow (sales) period, not to mention interest rate loan lock periods.
A better solution is to negotiate with the seller for them give you a financial credit based the cost estimate provided by a local BMP Company so that you can do the work during the right time of year, or make sure your purchase price reflects the BMP work that you will need to do after the sale closes.
If the deadline has passed, why does this Seller not have a BMP Certificate? Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for this one. The original deadlines to complete the BMP work on properties around Lake Tahoe were staggered, and each zone had a different year deadline. My guess is that property owners just didn’t pay attention to the announcements and the deadlines came and went. Today, it has become a negotiation point and a disclosure item between buyers and sellers.
Can I get in trouble for not having a BMP Certificate? The answer is yes, and no. Most property owners that have not completed their BMP work have not been fined, or had a problem, but that can always change and most likely will as the demand to get all properties into compliance increases. The BMP program can generate a daily fine of up to $5,000 per day for a non-compliant, problem property.
As a Tahoe buyer you’ll have questions and concerns on how to get your property BMP certificate, but with the help of a local BMP Company that specializes in getting Lake Tahoe Basin properties into compliance, you’ll get the on-site physical assistance and local knowledge you need to help you through the entire process.
Protecting Lake Tahoe through the BMP Certification process!
For more information on the TRPA BMP program, check out their website at: www.TahoeBMP.org The cost and requirements to complete and get a property BMP certificate are always being updated. This information is meant to be informative, and is subject to change and/or correction with out notice.
If you have more questions, or would like help in buying or selling, give me a call at 530.414.1260 and I can help you through the entire home buying and selling process.
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All information is deemed reliable, but is subject to change, and/or correction without notice.
What is a BMP Certificate in Lake Tahoe?