What are we doing to ourselves?

From reader / contractor Duff:

I attended an EPA mandated class for contractors on Lead Safe Practices last week.

Anyone owning a home built before 1978 can expect to pay 25% more for a renovation thanks to the arduous task now being levied on contractors thanks to the EPA. The set-up to change a piece of molding on your pre 1978 window will take 3 hours prior to picking up a tool.

The fine for not following their rules……. $35,000

Obummer may think this kind of nonsense creates “green” jobs, but really, a homeowner faced with a renovation fee like this will probably just forego the job. Unlike his government, homeowners don’t have access to a printing press.


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19 responses to “What are we doing to ourselves?

  1. Pete

    It might be interesting to track sales of pre-1978 houses as compared to post-1978. What about grounds for a mass tax appeal of the new assessments next year?

  2. w b h

    Just after the new rules went into effect in April, I was helping with a charity project helping a local homeowner via Rebuilding Together in Stamford. Part of the project was replacing windows. We volunteers had to go through about an hour of instruction on the methods to seal, and then clean up, the immediate area after disturbing what may have been lead paint. The volunteer contractors there believed as contractor Duff did in the post that these rules would increase the cost of even the smallest of jobs.

    Then a few days ago, driving on East Avenue in Norwalk just north of I-95, I saw a work site on a building with a cupola shrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting which I presumed was to comply with the rules. However, there were gaping holes in the sheeting.

    “WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday [May 27, 2010] to block fines temporarily under a rule that requires certification to remove lead paint in homes and certain facilities built prior to 1978.

    “Sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the proposal was attached to a supplemental funding bill by a vote of 60-37.”

    Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=338&articleid=20100527_11_0_WASHIN506714

  3. Jimbo

    It is outrageous of course.

    The work-around is: do it yourself.

  4. everydaywhinge

    Before the ink was dry on the permit for renovating our c.1865 summer home, we had all sorts of EPA types moosing around the place. I took the paint course at Ring’s End to educate myself so painting contractors don’t swoop in and take advantage of me with their new found expertise. Re the work-around suggestion: even if I chose to do some of this work myself, the mere fact that a permit is pulled makes skirting the rules moot. Basically I’m screwed.

  5. Nicholas

    And even if you power-wash an older house now, the painter has to build a trough around the house, and collect the water in a 55 gallon drum.

    It’s true, all these new regulations will dramatically up the price of most home-improvements on any older houses…

  6. Anon

    Does anyone know if the homeowner is responsible for ensuring the contractor has a certification and follows the rules? Can a homeowner do it without being certified? and lastly who is responsible for enforcing…the town or epa?

  7. Everyday Whinge

    Anon… yes the homeowner is responsible, at least where we live. And for us, it’s the town inspectors who enforce. They were all required to take the class, on my taxpayer nickel of course. The homeowner also has to be certified if doing the work him/herself. All this presumes you are even on the town radar by pulling a permit. If you live in the woods in the middle of nowhere, go for it. Unfortunately for us, we’re one of the most visible houses on the road.

  8. Retired IB'er

    What am I missing. As long as you own and don’t have kids under the age of 6 this is a non-event.

    “Set to take effect in April 2010, the new standards will extend to builders, painters, plumbers, and electricians working in all rental housing built before 1978, as well as in older non-rental homes inhabited by children under age six or pregnant women.”


  9. Retired IB'er

    Directly from EPA:

    ““Target housing” is defined in TSCA section 401
    as any housing constructed before 1978, except housing for the elderly
    or persons with disabilities (unless any child under age 6 resides or
    is expected to reside in such housing) or any 0-bedroom dwelling. Under
    this rule, a child-occupied facility is a building, or a portion of a
    building, constructed prior to 1978, visited regularly by the same
    child, under 6 years of age, on at least two different days within any
    week (Sunday through Saturday period), provided that each day’s visit
    lasts at least 3 hours and the combined weekly visits last at least 6
    hours, and the combined annual visits last at least 60 hours. Child-
    occupied facilities may be located in public or commercial buildings or
    in target housing.”


  10. Everyday Whinge

    IB’er: Guess it depends on where you reside:

    Some states and localities have requirements for renovations on pre-1978 housing that are stricter than the EPA’s. The National Lead Information Center (800/424-5323) is one source for information about state-specific lead-paint regulations.

  11. Anonymous

    Also to note: this is not an Obama law. It was a Federal law passed 2 years ago to be enforced beginning April 23, 2010.
    This issue was raised on this blog in April.

  12. Way Up Valley

    Only houses where the wind blows easterly at least 15 mph at least 15% of the time need to comply.

    Can’t prove that doesn’t happen at your house?

  13. IDAHO

    This is why folks live in places like backwoods Idaho!!

  14. fred

    The EPA language appears a little fuzzy.

    Say 1 child -under the age of 6- lives in a 100 unit co-op, built before 1977. That is one child in the entire building. Do all residents have to abide by the new EPA lead mandate or only in the unit that houses the child.
    The EPA language is not clear on this, I think.

  15. fred2

    Ha, I will soon have an 1896 house on my hands. Lead? Pshaw, Asbestos is where it’s at.

    But seriously, was old lead paint THAT much of an issue? I mean, I know heavy metals are a health issue, but seriously paint is THIN, and basic remediation ought to grab a very high fraction of the crap, no?

  16. duff

    Oh, and as residences of CT. our state gov. has decided we need further protection from that dust and debris from your pre 1978 home by not allowing that debris to be brought to you local town dump or put in a standard refuse container. Even though, it has never been deemed a hazard, never effected a water shed and the Federal Government says it’s OK to treat as regular debris. CT. is the only state that has this requirement.

    Your local carting company has stepped up to the challenge though. They will provide a 30yd, specifically marked container for 12/15,000 dollars for your hazardous lead laden material. A 30yd container normally costs $700.

  17. Cobra

    Whomever wrote/sponsored these regulations has clearly been munching on lead paint chips, daily, for years. What a crock of Pelosi.

  18. duff

    Fred @ 4:29 – my understanding is that only the unit that falls under the EPA mandate has to comply. But, if any work is being done in the common areas of the building the reg’s apply due to the one unit that has to comply.

  19. Everyday Whinge

    Owning a piece of architectural history is part gem part hell. Six generations have lived in our oceanside summer house, lead paint, asbestos, leach field, lead pipes and all. This year we agreed as siblings to pony up some $ and bring the house to the 21st century. After round one of jaw-dropping estimates came in yesterday for a real septic system, wiring that’s not hanging by a thread, insulation that isn’t horse hair, and windows that both open AND close, we think we’ll keep the charm of the place like it is. Afterall, what fun would it be to come here if nothing goes wrong? Good luck to you.