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“I am from the government and here to help you.” That statement is often joked about. Ten of the most terrifying words that one could expect to hear in their lifetime. Now it appears that would fall to second place if you replace the word “help” with the word “protect.”

Effective April 22nd, the EPA has a new lead regulation. It affects anyone living in or working on pre-1978 houses that may contain lead. As a homeowner, there is nothing additional you have to follow. While you may not need to care about the regulation, but it is still going to affect you in many ways. (EPA’s Facts on Lead)

The New Lead Rule will Increase Costs

The cost for everyone is going up, including those that do not live in a pre-78 house.  Why? Well most firms that have been certified have also had to send one or more individuals to training, bought additional equipment, and depending on their risk exposure may have had to purchase a Pollution Liability Policy that starts out in the thousands.  As these items cannot be assigned to one particular job, the cost is spread out and applied to all jobs (AKA Overhead).

The costs for your project in a pre-78 house will also be increasing. Many contractors will have to budget extra time to inform you of the RRP regulation, the extra paperwork required on these jobs, the additional expenses of complying with this regulation, etc…While the EPA states that it should only add $8 to a $165 to a job, I can tell you that they have a propensity for understating what the true costs are, while inflating the positive aspects. Their original estimates done in 2005 showed that the containment costs per job would run anywhere from $22.67 to $527.89 per job which is a lot more accurate than their latest numbers.

Finding Lead-Certified Contractors

There is a lack of Certified Firms to do the work. This could cause you to have to wait a very long time for one to be able to do the work. If a non-certified firm does the work, they are risking a $30K+ fine per day for failing to be certified and not following these lead safe work practices. While not required to hire a Certified Firm, do you really want someone working on your house that does not care about the regulations? What else might they not care about, or how often would they say, “well that’s good enough.” (EPA’s – Find a Certified Firm)

Confusion over testing procedures can also cause you some major issues down the line when it comes time to sell your house. In order to help prevent this, I am going to quote this directly from the regulation: 745-61 (c) Nothing in this subpart requires the owner of property(ies) subject to these standards to evaluate the property(ies) for the presence of lead-based paint hazards. Nor do they need to take any action to control these conditions if one or more of them is identified. The only time I would recommend that testing should be performed is when you know with a 100% certainty that lead paint is not present. (LEAD FAQ’s – To Test or Not to Test – that is the question)

Confusion on the Regulation Still Remains

Confusion over the regulation is also another big issue. What mandatory classes do Certified Renovators have to attend? Originally intended to show you the actual regulation, the class then teaches you steps for complying with the regulation. Not all the steps shown in class are required on every job. Unfortunately, based on who did the training, many are under the mistaken impression that Haz-Mat suits have to be worn the entire time. Others believe everyone needs to follow protocols established for asbestos abatement (tent everything, etc….), and the list goes on. Unfortunately, that confusion may cause some contractors to overestimate the scope of what is truly required.

The whole thing — Some great contractors have said, instead, “This is ridiculous; I am not working on those houses anymore.” (The Process of Remodeling a pre 1978 house)

— Sean Lintow Sr. (SLS Construction)

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Building Moxie . . . The Blog would like to thank Sean and his team SLS Construction for participating in the Tagged! project.  You can find Sean on Twitter @The_HTRC.  He is also available through his blog The Homeowners Resource Center.

Tagged by Mike Hines of HomePath Products, Sean is now a frequent contributor to our site. You can find all his contributions, including info on 2017’s Silica Dust Standardhere

5 thoughts on “EPA’s New Lead Regulation (RRP) and How It Affects You

  1. Sean, again thank you for taking the time to help get the word out; we are glad to have you. Two questions — has there been any info/rationale given for the sudden dip in the “additional cost per project” estimate? and is it true — you are no longer working on pre-1978 homes? Because of this rule? All I can say is — Wow! Thanks again.

  2. Sean,

    The word on the lead law seems to have gotten out rather slowly. Trades people in my area are scrambling to finish projects they bid long before they were aware of the law. I also was unaware until I read your blog and I was glad to see you wrote about it here. You have certainly done your part to help us understand the realities and severity of the situation. I believe the lead law is a good idea. I think the timing stinks on the tail end of a recession when many folks are reluctant to have work done to begin with. Still this is something I intend to take very seriously and I appreciate all your help in doing so.

  3. First, thanks for having me, and I hope I was able to help you and your readers out.

    Originally when the EPA started this rollout back in September of 09, they stated it would only add $35 per project. Needless to say, there was a huge – “you are out of your freaking minds” and this second batch of numbers became their new mantra. Where they pulled these numbers from is anyone’s guess, but they are not realistic, just like a bunch of their other numbers as I have mentioned and proven a few times.

    The second part – no, I am still working on pre-78 houses and will continue to do so with a few caveats. If they insist on testing being done, and lead is found present in the structure, I will simply refer them to a lead abatement contractor. The house will then need to be retested and be deemed completely lead free – not just below the EPA’s de minimus levels, before I will consider moving forward with the project. There have been a few contractors out there that have listed it on their websites that they will no longer be working on these houses, while some only mention it when a prospective client calls.

  4. While lead-related issues with children is serious, I would expect that it would take years maybe decades to see any real impact on the number of lead cases reported. Most not coming from owner-occupied properties I would assume. . .

    I would love to check in a bit to see how it is all working especially in relation to work being performed on post-78 houses.

    And while it is possibly a good time to be in the lead abatement biz, I think it us old house owners that are going to loose out on the opportunity to work with some really talented people here.

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