Q: Can you give me an example how the EPAs new RRP rules could affect a homeowner?
A: A tale of two houses
Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers are a hypothetical couple in their late 60s who try to do everything right. Their house is paid for. They have a nice pension and a small 401(k). They save for things before they buy them. They don't make much, but they make it stretch. You know the type.
The Rodgerses have been planning for a few years to paint the exterior of their 1,700-square-foot home, built in 1963. They had a painter friend, Frank, give them an early estimate, so they knew that they would have to save around $3,500.
Spring came, and they called Frank to get the job started. He said, “Oh, well, hmmm, things have changed.” He explained new EPA Repair, Renovation and Painting guidelines, and how he had recently become certified to work on pre-1978 homes.
“But here is the thing, there is no way I can do the job for what I quoted,” he said. “In fact, with having to tape up all the plastic, use the HEPA filter vacuum, control all the dust, plus the extensive cleanup, the price would be closer to $6,000, and that is a deal.”
After the shock wore off, the Rodgerses decided they would get the extra $2,500 as a cash advance on their credit card. The paint was starting to peel, and the project really couldn't wait.
Now, let's talk about the Morans. They are a hypothetical younger couple who just purchased their first home. Patty Moran was pregnant with their first child, and they were excited to fix up the 1930s charmer they fell in love with. Steve Moran borrowed his dad’s belt sander and started working on the worst part, which was the exterior siding that faced the sun.
While Steve was sweating away, Patty brought out iced tea and lemonade, and even did some of the scraping. Steve got about half of the sanding done, and then started to put in a lot of overtime at the phone company. With the baby due soon, Patty called out some contractors to get a bid on finishing the work.
Frank arrived. He was afraid to tell the Morans about the dangerous situation they had created with the lead chips and dust, and the potential of poisoning their unborn child. Instead, he gave them the “Renovate Right” pamphlet, and gave them a quote on finishing the job. He paid extra attention to the cleanup to make sure no paint chips or dust remained.
In each of these situations, the homeowners did not know their paint. The contractor had to assume that the homes’ paint had lead and follow new EPA guidelines because the homes were built prior to 1978.
But there is an exception to the rule. If a certified lead inspector/assessor certifies that paint is free of lead, then new rules don’t apply (Title 24, section 35.115 (a)4). If both families would have had their homes inspected and identified lead — or a lack of lead — things would have worked out better.
For the Rodgerses, it turned out that there was no lead anywhere on their property. They could have had the house painted by any contractor, and with certification the house was lead-free, would not have had the expense of lead containment.
For the Morans, the situation was different. Portions of their exterior siding did have a high concentration of lead. Because Patty was outside during some of the sanding, she had inhaled some of the dust. This is something that Patty will discuss with her pediatrician to make sure the baby does not have elevated levels of lead in her blood.
The moral of the story: Know your paint! The Rodgerses will now have to wait a few more years to take their Alaskan cruise while they make payments on their credit card, for an expense that was totally unnecessary. And the Morans will have to worry about their baby’s health, as well as their own.
For more information, visit the EPA website at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadinfo.htm.
Mike Brodie is the owner of Choice Property Services. Mike is a CDPH Certified Lead Inspector/Assessor and can legally determine the presence of lead in your paint. His methods are HUD- and EPA-approved. He uses an XRF Analyzer, which does not disturb the paint, and generates a surface-by-surface printed report. This report is good for the lifetime of the home. Mike can be reached at (530) 345-2227. Brodie.Pre78@gmail.com