Signs of increased life in the remodeling industry have been reported. After a quick celebration, it may be time to think about the new lead paint rules; April 2010 is just eight months away. That’s the deadline for anyone who works on pre-1978 homes (with a few other caveats) to have a “certified” renovator on staff. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various trade organizations have been getting the word out, some remodelers still worry that the sheer number of potential renovators needing training -- estimated at nearly 250,000 -- will stymie efforts.
Yet Maria Doa, director of the national program, chemicals division for EPA, is confident that there will be enough trainers to work with all those needing to be trained. Currently there are 50 certified providers; 50 more should be certified by the end of the summer. “More applications come in each day,” Doa says. “We’re focusing on making sure the people doing the training are accredited so they will properly train renovators out there.”
The EPA will begin a marketing campaign this fall and has been working with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and even retailers, such as Pella Corporation, to push the program. It’s imperative for companies to take the issue seriously, not only because of lead’s health hazards -- about which no one disagrees -- but because noncompliance comes with a hefty $32,500-per-day fine. This is serious stuff.
While rules for addressing lead paint have been in place for nearly two decades, only in April 2008 did the EPA finally set down the following: “Beginning in April 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified [italics added] and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.” For more specifics visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.
Certification means that if your company works on such structures, you’ll need at least one staff person who is a “certified renovator” trained in the new procedures. “That person does not have to be on the job site at all times,” says Dan Taddei, director of education, at NARI. “If you’re a sub and you have an impact on lead you also need someone certified.”
There are two separate certifications a remodeler must have by the April deadline. The remodeling company itself has to be certified -- it costs approximately $300 for a five-year certification. “That’s really just a paperwork drill,” Taddei says. “If they haven’t been in trouble with the EPA, they’ll probably get accredited.”
The second certification goes to the individual(s) taking the training course -- a classroom portion and a hands-on section -- which costs $185 to $300 depending on where the course is given and who it’s given by. Training providers are located all across the nation. Many of them can travel to provide training; others have facilities that trainees will have to go to. Be aware that the required ratio of no more than six students per teacher during the hands-on section may make scheduling difficult. Those who have done some coursework in the past can take a four-hour refresher course if they have documentation of previous training. For a list of EPA-certified providers go to http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.
As for those who provide the training, most companies that do so already have training expertise in areas such as asbestos, mold remediation, or safety. Getting accredited takes time, however. Andrew McLellan, president of Environmental Education Associates, in Buffalo, N.Y., says that despite a good, long-term relationship with the EPA, it still took 90 days for his company to be approved. As more people apply, wait times could lengthen. To find out more about becoming an accredited training provider go to the Renovator and Trainer Tool Box at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/toolkits.htm.
Accredited since the middle of July, EEA, one of three trainers in N.Y., has trained “a few dozen” renovators, McLellan says. There are approximately 15,000 home improvement companies in New York state. “The training is a little more intense than people are expecting it to be. We’re starting to see a lot of interest in it and the fall should be busy, especially with contractors that do work for subsidized housing programs. They are already under an obligation to do this. We expect to see a lot more come through training in the spring when they realize the rule takes effect April 22. Technically, the people won’t be able to work after that date unless they’ve got the certification.”
Who’s going to know if you don’t comply? As the public becomes more aware of the rules, homeowners and/or tenants will know that they should expect not only a disclosure telling them that lead may be present, but contractors will have to provide them a pamphlet detailing what steps the contractor must take to comply with the new rules. McLellan sees this as an important moment. “[Here’s] an opportunity to standardize requirements across the country. This represents a sort of watershed because it introduces the idea that contractors have to be qualified to do home improvements.” --Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.