Last week David Merrick, owner of Merrick Design & Build in Kensington, Md. and NARI’s incoming Government Affairs Committee Chairman, went with NARI president Bill Carter to Capitol Hill to get some answers about the new lead paint law, which goes into effect April 22.

While it’s easy to criticize the government -- or any bureaucracy -- for its missteps, Merrick says he and Carter “were both impressed with the way the system of government was working. The people [we spoke with] did care about us and did listen to us and weren’t going to blindly enforce these rules.”


Merrick and Carter’s original intention was to attend OMB hearings about whether the April 22 deadline should be changed. But, he says, “As good as our arguments were, it would be a miracle of they changed a date. The fly in the ointment is the opt-out provision [for homeowners].”

The Sierra Club recently sued the EPA over this opt-out, basically arguing that if you’re going to deal with lead paint you should deal with lead paint. The EPA is not going to decide on the opt-out provision at least until April 22. However, “they would not tell us what [alternative] variations might be,” Merrick says.


Merrick and Carter also discovered that the EPA will most likely not be sending out a posse looking for violators on day one. While remodelers should get lead certified, Merrick came away understanding that if there are “flagrant violations [EPA] will go after people, but [at first] they’ll be spending their time promoting the law.”

The two NARI representatives also spoke with various committee members about the lack of a public awareness program. “We pointed out that we [as remodelers] would have sold and estimated a job two months in advance. In terms of preparing customers and contractors [they’re] behind the [curve],” Merrick says.

As the rules go into effect and remodelers put systems in place, EPA is interested in getting feedback from NARI and other in the industry. “[Those in the government] seem reasonable and want it to be successful and they’re willing to work with us,” Merrick says. “But they [do seem] disorganized.” –Stacey Freed