Have you heard about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) that took effect April 22? This new ruling may have flown under the radar. However, there are some important facts that spell potential liability for many contractors working on remodeling projects.

First, what does it mean? The new EPA Lead Rule requires that only contractors certified in handling lead can do remodeling in homes built prior to 1978, where paint is disturbed. There are 76.5 million homes that are covered, and it applies to projects of 6 square feet or greater. Contractors who violate this rule could face fines up to $37,500 per violation, per day.

Although this ruling has been in the works since 2008, the education and publicity about it has been minimal. As a result, the current number of certified remodelers is at an extremely low level. (Certification classes cost $200 per worker; EPA registration costs another $300.) Major industry associations are pressuring Congress to delay LRRP. Representative Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) introduced legislation April 29 to postpone implementing the rule until accreditation classes have been available for one year. So far there has not been much movement on it, but remodeling associations believe the recent House passage of the Cash for Caulkers bill may give traction to Rehberg’s proposal.

The fear is that lack of awareness among consumers could create an unfair advantage for contractors who are not certified in lead paint remediation. Here’s why: the EPA estimates that the new rule will increase the cost of a job anywhere up to $167. Major industry trade associations place that number much higher. Without knowledge of the Lead Rule, homeowners may select uncertified contractors who could offer lower costs.

So, how important is it to you to be in compliance with the rule? Has it changed how you price your projects? What are you telling your customers? Let us know how this new regulation has affected you.

For more information, visit epa.gov/lead or the following groups: National Kitchen & Bath Assn. (nkba.org); American Architectural Manufacturers Assn. (aamanet.org) or the Window and Door Manufacturers Assn. (wdma.com).

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