New federal law affects remodels of older homes

A new federal law went into effect on April 22, 2010, that affects all homes built prior to 1978. That’s over half of all homes in the U.S., including about 33,000 here in Central Oregon. The new EPA “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule” or “RRP”, is intended to protect U.S. citizens from the health hazards associated with construction work around lead-based paint. (The EPA estimates that about half of all homes built prior to 1978 contain lead-based paint. Lead was banned as an ingredient in household paint in 1978.)

The new RRP rule is complex, but the key points are as follows:
  • Effective April 22, 2010, all contracting firms disturbing painted surfaces or replacing windows in pre-1978 homes must be EPA certified and must have at least one employee additionally certified as a Certified Renovator. (I have a list of Certified Renovators.)
  • The contractor is required to provide the customer with a copy of the EPA, Renovate Right brochure, prior to beginning the renovation.
  • All work must be conducted using EPA designated lead-safe work practices, including approved warning posters, dust containment, paint removal methods, cleanup and disposal.
  • The Certified Renovator must keep detailed documentation on file for three years to prove compliance with all RRP requirements.
  • The EPA can seek penalties of up to $37,500 per day against a contractor for noncompliance with the RRP rule.
  • The following situations are exempt from the RRP rule:
    • Homeowners doing their own work on their own home.
    • Contractors disturbing less than 6 square feet of interior paint per room or 20 square feet of exterior paint.
    • The portion of the house to be renovated is tested and found to be lead free by a Certified Lead-Based Paint Risk Assessor, Certified Lead-Based Paint Inspector, or Certified Renovator.

How the New RRP Rule Affects Homebuyers
Homebuyers considering a pre-1978 home have always had to consider the possibility of lead-based paint and its associated health risks. The RRP rule now adds a cost consideration. Many buyers of older homes do so with plans to renovate or repaint. Contractors performing this work will now have added costs to comply with the RRP and these costs will be passed on to the customer. The EPA has estimated the additional cost to the contractor will be around $35, but most contractors I’ve talked to say that’s unrealistically low and expect the actual cost increase to be in the hundreds on small projects and easily above a thousand dollars on large projects like kitchen remodels or exterior house painting. Homebuyers planning large renovation projects would be smart to get written estimates from EPA certified contractors prior to purchase.

Thanks to Pillar to Post Professional Home Inspection for this informative summary.


One comment

  1. ZipWall · · Reply

    Great post, If you are looking for additional info, we have a lot of useful EPA RRP information collected in one section. Hope you find it helpful.



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