The rules for renovating pre-1978 homes are changing and failure to comply can carry stiff penalties.   If you’re a rehabber, flipper, or landlord this may affect your business.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their infinite wisdom has new lead paint laws that went into effect on April 22, 2010. The new lead paint laws require any renovation work performed on houses built before 1978 to be performed by a certified contractor. Obviously this new law is causing some serious moans and groans from both home owners and contractors. Contractors will be required to provide home owners the Renovate Right Brochure which contains useful information about the new law.

Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Law

The new lead paint laws that went into effect on April 22 involves training and certification of remodelers, safe work-site practices, verification and record keeping. It’s very important to understand that the new law pertains to projects on any house built before 1978 with a few exceptions as follows:

  • The home or child occupied facility was built after 1978.
  • The repairs are minor, with interior work disturbing less than six sq. ft. or exteriors disturbing less than 20 sq. ft.
  • The homeowner may also opt out by signing a waiver if there are no children under age six frequently visiting the property, no one in the home is pregnant, or the property is not a child-occupied facility.
  • If the house or components test lead free by a Certified Risk Assessor, Lead Inspector, or Certified Renovator.
  • If you are the owner of the home and you are performing the renovations yourself.

What Does The New Law Mean To You the Investor?

You’re probably wondering what this new law might mean to you and your next remodeling project. The obvious answer is a healthier home for you, your family and people that perform renovations to your home. The other obvious answer is an increased cost for contractors to adhere to the new rules which ultimately means an increased cost to you.

Over the last few months I’ve heard several small contractors say they will steer clear of and avoid older home renovations. A significant amount of small replacement window contractors will most likely go out of business and stop providing inexpensive window replacement services. While we think the new law is important in protecting public safety we also know it will result in much higher prices for consumers and less competition for consumers.

If you hire a contractor to do a renovation in your home that was built prior to 1978 be sure you hire a certified contractor or be prepared to waive the work. You should ask to see your contractors RRP certification prior to hiring them. Contractors performing work without the certification face penalties of $37,500 per day!

Changes in the Way We Buy and Sell

Several ideas come to mind when I hear about the federal government poking their nose in our business yet again.  The first idea I can’t repeat online, because it involves too many cuss words….But seriously, Let’s think about this a minute before everybody goes off and panics.

  • Houses built before 1978 will likely go down in price, particularly those needing major renovation.
  • Homes for sale that have been remodeled by certified contractors will be probably sell for higher prices.
  • Two new markets have emerged. One for being able to certify whether a home has lead based paint or not, and another is training all the hundreds of contractors and landlords who will need to get certified.
  • If you are the investor you probably OWN the house. See Above. home OWNERS are allowed to do their own renovations without being certified. Many of the investors i train and work with everyday do most of if not all of their own work…problem solved.

New Law Will Take Time To Work Effectively

Now, that being said, with over 38 million homes containing lead paint in the US no one can argue the importance of good lead paint laws. However, from the few meetings and conversations I’ve had it’s clear to me that this is going to take some time before it’s very effective. Most of the literature and training has left contractors confused, upset and frustrated. Typical government in action.

I don’t know how they plan to enforce this new law, given all the thousands, perhaps millions of small contractors, landlords out there with a house or two in their  empire, and homeowners that simple don’t give a rip; hopefully they will rethink all of this baloney.

By the way, anybody ever see the statistics on deaths cause by lead based paint? Exactly how many kids have ended up retarded from this menace? I wonder if it is anywhere near the number injured because their parents are too stupid to put them in a car seat.  Last I heard, that crime did not carry a  $37,500 per day fine.