When interviewing general or specialty remodeling contractors you should be aware that a new law was put into place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specific to lead paint and materials in existing homes.  This federal regulation went into affect March of 2010 which is designed to protect inhabitants of homes being remodeled from Lead based paint AND other products  as well as the construction workers.  This new law requires contractors to become trained and certified by the EPA which is called a Certified Renovator.  Next to being sure your contractor has the proper license and insurance you now need to ask if they are a Certified Renovator from the EPA.  If not well then you should reconsider whom you are placing your families health in.  You can read about the specifics at a few sites which I have posted at the end of this article but here is a simple explanation.  If your home was built before 1978 then the new rule applies.  The new rule is called the RRP, Renovation, Repair and Painting as named by the EPA.  Because lead based materials were outlawed after 1978 it applies to any building built prior to 1978.  The primary danger in lead is the ingestion and inhalation of lead dust created by remodeling activities and especially concerning in homes where children reside before the age of 6.  During remodeling old paint chips and other materials can easily create a dust and travel throughout the home unless properly contained.  Dust can travel and settle on furnishing, flooring and counter-tops.  Young children crawling on the floor will ingest a microscopic amount of lead potentially causing developmental issues down the road.  Proper remodeling practices combined with the training from the EPA can mitigate a large percentage of this dust which is what the certification is all about.  So here is what I have learned so far.  The best first step is to have the home tested by a certified agency.  We have begun to use ERT to complete the testing process before beginning demolition of a project.  This informs us of which materials precisely have lead content and then we perform the appropriate removal and disposal policy as mandated by the EPA.  In implementing this step I have learned a few things.  First,  lead seems to exist often in ceramic tile products such as kitchen and bathroom counter-tops and shower surrounds.  I was quite surprised since this was not mentioned in the training.  Interestingly tests of painted areas has not detected lead.  Many of the homes we work on are 1960’s to the 1980’s.   Homes built prior to this will likely have lead in the paint.  I also learned that we have always taken many of the steps to contain dust since we began our business in 1992 but the EPA training is taking it even further.  Applying the training in real life conditions certainly has it’s challenges but for the type of work we do it’s not impossible.  It does trigger more time and material which equates to more money spent on the project and ultimatley a higher remodel cost to the owner but it’s not significant in our case beacuse we were taking many of the steps already.  It’s the marginal contractors that will struggle.  As a homeowner you should be aware that the  EPA has a pamphlet to educate you regarding the RRP rule and it’s the contractors responsibility to provide it to you prior to beginning your project.  The reality is the industry is up in arms regarding the rule and it’s taken some time for business like us to get up to speed and frankly many remodeling contractors are simply ignoring it.  We have decided to implimnent the proper practices to the best of our ability because ultimately it’s in the best interests of our customers and our employees.  It’s one more hurdle for the contractor but it’s also one more knowledge piece that the homeowner should be aware of.  So add this to your list when interviewing contractors which may or may not validate their integrity. Here are a few links to help you: The RRP Rule http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm Check to see if your contractor is certified http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm Educational pamphlet http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf
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