A coalition of housing industry groups -- the National Association of Home Builders, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association -- today announced plans to file a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for removing the “opt-out” provision from its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (LRRP). The group will challenge EPA’s action on the grounds that the agency substantially amended its LRRP regulation without any new scientific data and before the regulation was put into place on April 22, 2010.
The LRRP applies to homes constructed before 1978 when lead paint was banned. Its opt-out provision, which expired July 6, let consumers allow contractors to bypass extra preparation, clean-up, and recordkeeping requirements in homes where there were no children under six or pregnant women.
"The removal of the opt-out provision, which was done without any substantial research or data to support such a move, will result in millions of homeowners paying for additional measures that they may not need and discourage them from making necessary improvements," said NLBMDA Chair Dan Fesler, CEO of Lamperts, Inc. in St. Paul, Minn.
Remodelers’ and other contractors’ estimates of the additional costs associated with the lead-safe work practices average about $2,400, but vary according to the size and type of job. For example, a complete window replacement requires the contractor to install thick vinyl sheeting to surround the work area both inside the home and outdoors – with prep time and material costs adding an estimated $60 to $170 for each window.
“Consumers trying to use rebates and incentive programs to make their homes more energy efficient will likely find those savings eaten up by the costs of the rule’s requirements,” says NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “Worse, these costs may drive many consumers – even those with small children - to seek uncertified remodelers and other contractors. Others will likely choose to do the work themselves – or not do it at all – to save money. That does nothing to protect the population this rule was designed to safeguard.”
Removing the opt-out will also substantially increase the number of homes for which lead-safe paractices will be required. "The removal will double the number of projects that fall under the rule to 79 million homes," says design build remodeler Bob Hanbury, owner of House of Hanbury in Newington, Conn., who has been working with NAHB on the lead paint issue. "There won't be enough trained individuals to satisfy the need," he says.