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NARI points to pitfalls of EPA rules on lead renovation

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The EPA plans to add stricter regulations to its year-old Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule. Contractors will be required to perform “lead clearance testing” as part of renovation projects on houses built before 1978. 

After surveying remodeling contractors nationwide, The National Association of the Remodeling Industry said the new legislation will significantly raise the cost of home renovations, and is expected to be both detrimental to small remodeling businesses and potentially harmful to homeowners.

“Lead clearance testing only applies to contractors, not to homeowners,” said David Merrick, president of Merrick Design and Build Inc. in Kensington, Md. “Once homeowners discover this loophole, they often choose to do the demolition or project work themselves to save on costs. Ultimately they risk lead exposure because homeowners are not trained in lead-safe work practices.” NARI cited particular concern about the effect that this consequentially improper lead safety may have on children and pregnant women.

Small businesses will also suffer due to the new regulations, NARI said. Regulation-compliant small business owners, struggling to remain within the constraints of already tight remodeling budgets, will be negatively affected as homeowners choose to cut costs by hiring non-compliant contractors, undertaking remodeling projects themselves, or deciding against renovation altogether. 

According to the recent government census, nearly 85% of U.S. remodeling businesses are not registered as certified firms with the EPA, and those businesses that are certified will still have to be re-trained because of the passage of new regulations. 

The regulations pose a new threat to a recovering housing industry, which otherwise is predicted to have some modest growth in the coming years, NARI said.

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