Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Law-A Letter to Homeowners

Homeowners who are considering doing a renovation must know that if their homes were built prior to 1978, their contractors are required to follow certain procedures if they are going to disturb more than 6 interior square feet of paint or 20 exterior square feet of paint.  This law requires that the general contractor must become certified with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and that the contractor himself take an eight-hour class in order to become a certified renovator and learn lead-safe practices that contain lead dust.

Although the EPA claims that it will be doing a publicity campaign to inform homeowners about the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule), I have heard very little about it outside of construction circles.  So, I feel that it is important for me as a construction lawyer to educate the public about this rule.

First of all, the preparation and education needed to comply with the law are going to cost the contractors more money.  This will be reflected in an increase in the cost of jobs.  The contractors must pay at least $300.00 to certify with the EPA, $200-$300 on average for the certified renovator training, the costs of training their workers and/or subcontractors, and additional costs for materials (plastic, protective suiting, masks, duct tape) and very expensive HEPA vacuums.  

Homeowners who ask contractors to circumvent these practices and operate in violation of the law are doing these contractors an extreme disservice.  This law is in place to protect homeowners and their families (and more particularly, pregnant women and children under six) and the contractors from potentially toxic lead dust.  Lead poisoning is a real problem with potentially tragic results, and following the lead-safe practices has been shown to significantly reduce the exposure to lead for all involved.

Please understand that your contractor is doing the right thing by giving you a lead-paint brochure and following the rules.  He could also face significant fines ($37,500.00 per infraction, per day) for failing to comply with this law.  So, please do not blame the messenger.  Respect your contractor and do not ask him to break the law.