NAHB members were relieved this summer when the Environmental Protection Agency, yielding to recommendations from the association, backed down from implementing a new requirement for lead testing at the completion of a project under the Lead Paint: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule. That clearance testing requirement would have subjected remodeling customers to even more costs and delays. In a related move, EPA has also added requirements and made clarifications to the original LRRP rule that may change how the lead regulation is enforced. An important article in the latest edition of Nation’s Building News details the changes that were made in areas pertaining to 1) vertical containment; 2) HEPA vacuums; 3) test kits; and 4) online training. For example, for exterior renovations within 10 feet of the property line of adjacent buildings, the EPA had required vertical containment, but has now added the phrase “or equivalent extra precautions in containing the work area,” to the rule, giving renovators the flexibility “to design effective containment systems based on the renovation activity and the work site.” The EPA has also dropped language suggesting that vertical containment is required on exterior renovations in windy conditions, while for exterior work, the distance from impervious sheeting required on the ground has been reduced from 10 feet to the “edge of the vertical barrier.” For interior containment, plastic sheeting only needs to be laid down to the “edge of the vertical barrier,” and not the six feet beyond the work area that was formerly required. Meanwhile, EPA has changed its requirement for contractors to go to the unnecessary expense of buying newer HEPA vacuums, when currently owned vacuums purchased to comply with the 2008 version of the rule were designed to work just as effectively when operated correctly. The revised language in the rule now requires that “HEPA vacuums must be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.” Noting this, NAHB is advising remodelers to keep up-to-date records of the operations and maintenance schedules of their HEPA vacuums. Please see this article in Nation’s Building News for further details on these and other changes to the LRRP requirements. Contact: Matt Watkins (800-368-5242, x8327)
With strong NAHB support, the House Appropriations Committee approved a key amendment offered by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) this week that would cut funding for EPA enforcement of the lead paint rule until the agency approves an appropriate ”test kit” for ascertaining the presence of lead paint.
Responding to concerns from NAHB Remodelers, affiliated trade groups and other contractors in his home state and the rest of the country, Rep. Rehberg is putting additional pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to make much-needed improvements to the Lead: Repair, Renovation and Painting rule. On July 12, he offered an amendment to the Interior Department’s appropriations bill that would restrict funding for EPA enforcement activities related to the rule until the agency approves a test kit that meets the “false positive” and “false negative” criteria stated in the regulation.
The night before this amendment was introduced, NAHB sent out a special alert to our members whose congressional representatives sit on the Appropriations Committee, asking them to immediately contact their lawmakers and urge their support for it. NAHB also organized a joint letter of support to the Appropriations Committee from a coalition of 24 stakeholders including the Associated General Contractors of America, Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, National Association of Realtors® and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Our members responded immediately by calling and emailing their representatives’ offices, and as a result, the amendment was passed by voice vote on July 13. Though the measure must be approved by the full House and Senate before it goes to the President’s desk, this latest advancement marks a great step forward for NAHB’s efforts to seek common-sense answers about the rule, which applies to homes built before 1978. It’s also a testament to the effectiveness of our Remodelers’ members, whose swift response to NAHB’s alert certainly contributed to its passage by the committee.
For more information, email Elizabeth Odina at NAHB or call her at 800-368-5242, x8570.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has asked the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to look into the myriad problems associated with the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP). Specifically, Inhofe sent a letter to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asking the committee to conduct an oversight hearing on how the EPA is administering and enforcing the rule. “There is significant bipartisan support on the EPW committee and in the Senate to address problems associated with the rule’s implementation,” he said. Inhofe also noted that, ”Given the damage from spring flooding and tornadoes throughout the South and Midwest, it is vital to understand how these EPA rules will affect families and communities trying to rebuild.” Finalized last year, the lead paint rule requires remodelers and other contractors working in homes built before 1978 to take precautions to contain lead dust. The so-called opt-out provision — in which home owners who didn’t have children under six or a pregnant woman in the home were able to waive the requirements — was abolished last year.
Clearance Testing Rule Deadline July 15
Inhofe has also weighed in on a proposal to add clearance testing to remodeling requirements. Currently, remodelers must use a dust cloth on each project and match the color of the cloth to an EPA-provided card to determine whether a significant amount of dust remains. The EPA has proposed replacing this procedure with clearance testing for a subset of renovation activities, which Inhofe has called a “dramatic change” to the lead rule that would “amplify the unintended consequences we have heard from our constituents: that the higher costs from current LRRP renovators have pushed home owners to either hire uncertified individuals or to perform renovation work themselves.” In addition, Inhofe said in a letter to EPA officials, the testing would add even more costs to the renovation work — an expense that the EPA has not accurately portrayed in its analysis of the impact of the new requirement. In its response, the EPA said that its usual practice is to recalculate the economic impact of a proposal before issuing a final ruling. For more on this story, read this article in Nation’s Building News or contact Matt Watkins at 800-368-5242, x8327.
Remodelers and contractors who are trained and certified under the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule now have the opportunity to provide the agency with comments on the cost of certification and recordkeeping under the new regulation. The agency announced that it is seeking comments in a routine Information Collection Request published in the Federal Register on Jan. 26.
The various estimated cost burdens of the RRP rule are included in a supporting statement from the EPA. In its economic analysis, the EPA estimates that remodelers will spend 3-1/2 hours familiarizing themselves with the rule and completing the initial firm certification form. It should take another three minutes per project to complete, present and explain the post-renovation checklist to the property owners or tenants, according to EPA projections. The EPA also said that it expects remodelers to spend a little less than five hours on recordkeeping. NAHB Remodelers are requested to please use this link to submit your comments to EPA by the deadline of March 28. Contact: Matt Watkins (800-368-5242, x8327)
NAHB is providing online resources for remodelers who are concerned about how their businesses will be affected by new requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and how to best protect themselves from possible legal prosecution and exposure to potential lawsuits. The rule covers many of the activities that remodelers undertake when performing their job — including certification, insurance, contract language, job pricing, work practices and record keeping. Remodelers can ensure that they are properly instituting the requirements of the rule and protecting their business by knowing the liability issues and the best ways to address them. An extensive list of frequently-asked questions that is posted on NAHB’s website provides this information.
One of the major liabilities may rest with the remodeler’s contract, which will need to be updated to reflect the rule requirements. To help with this, the NAHB legal team has developed members-only template contract language that can be used for this purpose. Remodelers should also consult with an experienced local attorney for assistance in drafting contracts, because some states vary in their lead regulation and other legal requirements. For more information on the lead rule, visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint; or contact Matt Watkins at 800-368-5242, x8327. For information on legal and liability concerns, contact Amy Chai at x8232.
Faulty Test Kits
In an Aug. 25 meeting called by NAHB to communicate our ongoing concerns about the lead paint rule with EPA officials, the agency said it currently has no plans to discontinue use of the faulty lead paint test kits that have been shown to register a “false positive” reading 42% - 78% of the time. Second-generation and more reliable test kits were not available on Sept. 1, as originally planned — according to EPA, none of the new kits that it has reviewed have been able to pass muster as of yet. NAHB representatives noted our concern that use of the three currently recognized test kits will continue to raise the cost of renovations and repairs for home owners as remodelers employ lead-safe work practices even in cases where lead paint may not be present. Nevertheless, as posted on the EPA website, those currently recognized kits will remain in use until new kits that meet the EPA’s criteria are introduced — and at the moment, there is no definite date for this.
EPA reports that 449,000 remodelers and contractors had been trained under the lead rule as of mid-August, while 53,000 firms had been certified. The agency is concerned about the low number of firm certifications at this point, and about contractors’ confusion regarding individual training and firm certification requirements needed to work in pre-1978 homes. EPA has requested that remodelers contact the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-5323 with any complaints or concerns about lead rule training.
EPA officials have released a draft enforcement plan detailing the fines they will levy against contractors for violating the lead rule. The nature of the offense, contractor’s record of previous offenses, and contractor’s willingness to correct issues would all be factored into the severity of the fine, officials say. Meanwhile, 10 states have adopted the lead rule and have assumed implementation and enforcement responsibilities, with Georgia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts the most recent ones to implement the regulation. While most states have instituted identical requirements to the federal rule, some may enforce stricter rules and levy larger fees for certification. For example, in Minnesota, contractors must show proof of EPA lead paint certification before renewing their business licenses, while Rhode Island plans to require clearance testing for completed remodeling projects in homes that have tested positive for lead. Furthermore, in EPA’s latest proposal altering the rule, it wants states to assess enforcement fines of at least $10,000 when violations are found. For more information, see this page on NAHB.org.
Training Opportunities at IBS
Classroom and hands-on training for lead renovation, repair and painting will be offered in pre-show education sessions at the 2011 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando this January. Classroom coursework, or its online equivalent, and hands-on training are required to receive a certificate needed to work in homes built before 1978 where there is lead-based paint. Classroom training will be offered on Jan. 10 and hands-on training, which is also required, will be offered at four different times on Jan. 11. For online training available prior to the show, visit www.nahb.org/onlineleadtraining. For more information and a full schedule of EPA lead paint training at IBS, visit www.buildersshow.com/leadpaint.
EPA Consumer Awareness Campaign
EPA is now in the initial stages of its long-awaited consumer awareness campaign regarding the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The agency is encouraging contractors whose customers have questions about the rule to direct them to an informative consumer fact sheet on EPA’s web site at epa.gov/getleadsafe. This site also contains print ads, flyers and other resources that remodelers can use to promote awareness of the new regulations among their customers.
Remodelers and other contractors have until Sept. 30 to get their companies certified and to sign up for the training required to comply with the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. Under this rule, which went into effect on April 22, remodelers, window installers and other contractors who work in housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 are required to use lead-safe work practices unless those homes are tested and found to be free of any lead paint. They also must conduct consumer education and verify the clean-up of projects that disturb lead paint in such buildings. In addition, the EPA requires remodelers and contractors to complete six hours of classroom or online training and two hours of hands-on training to comply with the rule.
As this report has previously noted, NAHB led a coalition of industry groups to make EPA aware that it had not approved enough trainers under the lead paint rule and that consumers in some parts of the country could not find certified renovators. As a result of this effort, EPA agreed to delay enforcement of the certification requirement only. So, while remodelers now have until Dec. 30 to complete the training, they may be required to demonstrate that they have scheduled their training before this date. Contractors should be aware that fines for infractions of the rule range as high as $37,500 per violation per day.
The Oregon HBA’s training partner, the Home Builders University, and CEDIA have developed online training in partnership with the National Center for Healthy Housing that is approved by EPA and qualifies for the classroom portion of the training requirements. At this time, thanks to NAHB’s efforts to get the word out, 450,000 contractors have now completed their training.
For a firm certification form, click here. A completed form and $300 fee must be sent to the EPA for approval. Once approved, your firm will receive an EPA Lead Safe Certified Firm logo. Your firm will also be added to the EPA’s searchable database of firms certified to work in pre-1978 homes.
A list of approved training providers for individual certification (certification that is required for the employee supervising the lead-safe work practices for your company) is available on the EPA website. For more information, visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint or contact Kelly Mack, 800-368-5242, x8451.
On the heels of a recent EPA announcement that more accurate, inexpensive lead paint test kits will NOT be available anytime soon, NAHB has completed an economic analysis of the true costs associated with the new Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. The test kits, which were expected to be ready by next month, were seen as key to keeping the lead paint rule affordable for home owners.
Analysis from NAHB Economics reveals that the cost of the lead-safe work practices and third-party lead paint testing for window replacements alone in all pre-1978 homes includes: 1) a reduction of $1.9 billion spent on window replacements performed by professional contractors; 2) a reduction of $1.0 billion in wages and salaries earned across all industries; 3) 21,266 fewer jobs; and 4) a reduction of $579 million in revenue for federal, state and local governments.
On a separate note, NAHB is also looking at the revised lead hazard standard that EPA is now preparing for residential buildings and the new lead hazard standard for commercial and public buildings. The agency has formed a Science Advisory Board to review proposals for the standard, and NAHB has made a Freedom of Information Act request for certain EPA records to determine whether any members of that board may have a conflict of interest. Read more here, or contact Kelly Mack at 800-368-5242, x8451.
As you may be aware, there are several code changes coming soon that will impact the building industry. These changes have been discussed in various committees and councils at the HBA and detailed information can always be found at www.cshba.com. This is just a reminder so no one gets caught unprepared when the changes go into effect.
Changes you should prepare for:
1. National Electrical Code (2008 NEC).
The 2008 NEC will become effective on April 1, 2010 with the delayed implementation until at least January 1, 2011 for the following three provisions.
1. Expansion of the AFCI requirements into other areas of a dwelling unit in addition to the bedrooms.
2. The removal of the GFCI exceptions that allow for non-GFCI protected outlets for dedicated appliances in garages and unfinished basements.
3. The installation of tamper resistant receptacles in dwelling units.
Due to the controversial nature of these items, the Regional Building Department (“RBD”) Board of Review’s recommendation was to delay the implementation of these items until sometime in 2011. There will be more discussion about these items as we get closer to next year.
This code cycle has more changes than most of the recent editions. While the vast majority of these changes are simply to make clarifications in wording, definitions, and intent of existing code, there are a number of other significant changes that will affect many of the electrical installations in our jurisdiction. RBD will post the top 20 changes on their website.
ALL permits pulled after April 1, 2010 will fall under the new requirements. It is very important that contractors are aware of these changes when undertaking any electrical installation.
2. EPA Lead Paint Rule goes into effect April 22, 2010. Are you certified?
Starting April 22, 2010, remodelers and subcontractors must follow EPA’s Lead Paint: Renovation, Repair, Painting (RRP) rule when working in pre-1978 housing.
The rule includes: training, remodelers and firm certification, dust containment and restricted activities, cleanup requirements, cleaning verification and record keeping.
The HBA will hold its 3rd RRP Certification Class on March 26th from 7:30am to 5:00pm. Register at www.cshba.com.
3. Proposed Adoption of the 2009 International Code Series
The projected implementation date is January 1st, 2011.
RBD is currently reviewing and drafting suggested amendments to the International Residential Code (IRC), International Plumbing Code (IPC), International Mechanical Code (IMC) and International Building Code (IBC). Members of the HBA will have 60 days after the amendments are released to comment on them. Comments will be considered by RBD before bringing the amended rule to the Building Commission to start the adoption process through the various jurisdictions. This gives the industry a small window of opportunity to address concerns before a final draft is adopted. Reviews are currently taking place so get involved now. RBD’s proposed code amendments can be reviewed online at www.pprbd.org or www.cshba.com under the Government Affair tab in Regulatory Affairs Updates.
Please inform the appropriate people in your firm to prepare for these upcoming changes. These items and other Regulatory updates can always be found at www.cshba.com on the Government Affairs tab or by contacting Marla Novak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incentives to retrofit homes and buildings for energy-efficiency are a great idea that NAHB strongly supports, but the Home Star program that would accomplish this could be derailed because too few renovators will have their lead-safety certification in time for the government’s April deadline, NAHB member Bob Hanbury told Congress this week.
Testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Connecticut remodeler explained that rules effective April 22 governing work in homes where lead paint may be present may prevent meaningful retrofits from taking place because there won’t be enough certified renovation contractors trained in the EPA’s new Lead Safe Work Practices by that time.
The Senate is currently considering legislation that includes the Home Star program, which would provide home owner incentives for insulation and other weatherization projects. NAHB economists estimate that every $1 billion in remodeling and home improvement activity generates 11,000 jobs, $527 million in wages and salaries, and $300 million in business income — making these incentives a boost for the economy as well as energy efficiency.
Unfortunately, EPA has not approved enough instructors for required training programs, nor certified enough firms to do the renovation work, which includes energy-efficiency upgrades in older homes that are subject to the Lead Renovation, Repair and Repainting Rule. In all, EPA estimates that more than 236,000 remodelers, window installers, painters, heating and air conditioning specialists and other trade contractors must be trained to ensure compliance with the rule. These contractors must complete eight hours of training, pay a certification fee, and employ lead-safe work practices in homes built before 1978 where children or pregnant women are present. But so far, only about 14,000 people have been trained and EPA has only approved 135 firms to offer the training courses across the country (some states do not yet have any approved trainers).
Hanbury told committee members that NAHB looks forward to working with them to create a successful retrofit program that provides equal access for all qualified and properly-trained contractors and a true incentive to renovate the oldest, least-efficient housing stock. Read NAHB’s press release for more details, or contact Elizabeth Odina at 1-800-368-5242, ext. 8570