Credit: Chris Zorzy

Steve Morrison, owner of Morrison's Home Improvement Specialists, in Pittsfield, Mass., has two ways of pricing a siding job.

If the house is older and the job involves re-siding using vinyl over existing wood, Morrison's crews seal off windows and lay down poly. “We basically keep the ground contained,” Morrison says. Then at the end of the day, the crew bags and safely disposes of any debris.

If the job involves removing wood and the wood is old and has been painted many times over, that's a time-and-material job. In either case, Morrison carefully explains the dangers of lead to homeowners and why the job is priced the way it is.

OUTDOORS/INDOORS Discussions about the Environmental Protection Agency's Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule have mostly centered on working inside the house. That's because homeowners are far more likely to be exposed to the hazards associated with lead dust inside the home than outside it.

But that doesn't mean that RRP rules don't apply to siding jobs where lead-based paint does exist. Rules call for laying down plastic sheeting “at least 10 feet” from the wall to collect dust and paint chips. That sheeting is then bagged and disposed of once the job is completed.

“If it's a regular siding job, there isn't a lot of RRP stuff you have to worry about,” says Chris Zorzy, owner of A&A Services, in Salem, Mass., which operates Lead Safe Solutions, a company producing lead-safe training tapes. “If you're working on an old home and are not tearing wood off but are just going over the existing siding, you're really not into any kind of violation situation,” Zorzy says. But where painted wood is scraped or torn away, standard — or more than standard — precautions need to be taken.

For example, last summer Zorzy's crew replaced siding on a house located in a neighborhood where homes are situated within 20 feet of one another, so close that dust from the tear-off could easily make its way into the adjacent home. So A&A Services' crew tented the wall with plastic before it did the tear-off. That tenting preparation took a day.

IT'S THE LAW Complying with all the regulations could add as much as a day and a half or another $1,500 to $2,000 to the cost of a siding job, Morrison says. Zorzy points out that selling lead-safe renovation means the contractor “has to do a better job up front of conditioning customers to potential problems and what can happen if the job isn't done properly.” In such situations, he explains to homeowners that “it's the law” and then outlines multiple renovation scenarios and the prices for each. He also asks customers if they would want to take the risk of having a contractor shut down in the middle of a job for failure to comply. “We deliver the message, and it works,” he says.