The Environmental Protection Agency's Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule has some obvious pitfalls. To comply, remodeling companies will face hidden costs and changes in business practices:
1) Increased insurance requirements and costs. General liability insurance typically doesn't cover risks associated with lead paint. Given this, the logical step is to purchase extra pollution insurance. But many pollution insurance policies don't cover lead paint handling, only asbestos and mold. So special policies for lead handling will be required.
2) An opt-out policy that's disappearing soon. The clause that lets homeowners opt out of lead handling requirements under certain conditions will stay in effect for 60 days, starting from April 22. Once the 60 days are up, there will be no "grandfather" exceptions. This means a remodeler might have to stop midproject if tests are positive for lead paint, and either charge far more for the work or stop and walk away, leaving the house in shambles.
3) Liability: from here to eternity. If another contractor does work later in that house and doesn't follow lead-safe renovation procedures, you can still be sued.
4) Lack of Spanish language communications and training. Lead paint training and course materials in Spanish are needed.
5) Lack of subcontractor accountability. The remodeling company overseeing the whole job is responsible for the training, liability, and lead handling. Subcontractors may do much of the work but will not be held liable. Yet, if subcontractors don't follow safe lead-handling procedures, the main remodeling contractor takes the hit for non-compliance.
6) Escalating materials prices. As items required for safe lead renovation become mandated, prices are skyrocketing.
7) Safe lead-handling requirements. The main remodeling contractor must take the eight-hour training course in safe lead handling and then is responsible for training employees and subcontractors. However, I've taken the eight-hour course, and eight hours is not enough to be able to train others in handling lead safely.
8) Lead liability compromises long-term owner exit strategies. Lead paint liability will also affect the future sale of remodeling companies. Even a great remodeling company with many years of quality service may be significantly devalued because of lead paint handling liability that will extend for years after the job was completed.
9) Legal fees for new contracts and lawsuits. The RRP rule will also require that you develop new contracts and forms that account for potential lead handling, hazards, and liability ? and that won't be cheap. But then, neither are lawsuits from homeowners and neighbors.
10) Conflicts between OSHA and EPA regulations. Some RRP lead-handling requirements conflict with commonsense OSHA regulations. For example: RRP requires that heavy plastic be laid on the floor and up the walls to capture lead-based debris. Ladders will be placed on top of the plastic and may slip. Penetrate the protective plastic sheathing by tacking the ladders down and voila! you're violating RRP rules.
11) Lost time. One of the biggest hidden costs of this lead paint rule is that it's incredibly time consuming and will take you away from your main focus, which is your remodeling business.Before you embark on RRP compliance, make sure you understand how much it's really going to cost you.
?Tom Higgins is owner of Superior Products Home Improvements, a family-owned remodeling company that specializes in exterior remodeling. 303.347.2555, www.asksuperior.com.