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LEAD, the EPA, and You – The Process of Remodeling a pre 1978 house

In the prior two articles on the new EPA Rules on Lead aka RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) rule being implemented by the EPA, we covered the Renovate Right brochure and a quick primer on the EPA’s RRP requirements. In this article, we are going to delve into the typical process that must be followed by the contractor and how it affects you. This process also applies to those that own rental property and typically maintain it themselves.  Unless stated – the term “contractor” in this article will include the rental property owner. As a quick reminder, if you own rental properties older than 1978 and wish to work on them, you need to be a Certified Renovator & a Certified Firm just like any other Contractor.

Contractor: Within 7* to 60 days of the project start date (does not apply to emergency repairs)

The Homeowner or any affected tenants must be given a copy of the Renovate Right brochure. At this time, they should sign the acknowledgment form that they have received a copy. This form and all associated paperwork must be kept by the contractor for 3 years and maybe inspected by the EPA whenever they wish. If the paperwork is not kept or it is not up to date, it can result in a fine of up to $37,500 for each occurrence. This fine may also be applied daily for any failure to follow their procedures while the work is in progress.

*7 Days is the last day you can send it by mail, you can hand them the brochure just before you start – but in all fairness, it should be before they sign the contract

Homeowner: Prior to work commencing

Before a typical renovation starts, you generally need to make sure that the contractor has enough room to work and is able to move materials around. This is normally accomplished by stacking stuff on the bed, sliding everything over away from the work area, or occasionally placing everything you can into another room. Unfortunately, this will not fly anymore – everything that possibly can be removed from the rooms being worked on, needs to be. Larger furniture may be able to stay but plastic will have to be applied by the “Certified Renovator” and sealed off appropriately.

Certified Renovator: Step 1 – Containment & Training

A Certified Renovator must be on site to setup the containment areas. They must ensure that either appropriate signs or barriers warning everyone of the lead hazard have been erected along with posting a copy of their Certified Renovator license and the means to contact them. If you are working on your own rental property, you must do all the work yourself or hire a Certified Firm for work you are not completing.

Certified firms must use individuals that are trained in Lead Safe Work Practices by the Certified Renovators. The Certified Renovator should use the pamphlet referred to as the Steps Guide and must document this training. After all these steps are completed, the Certified Renovator is no longer required to be on site but they must be available to answer questions by phone.

Homeowner: While work is commencing

While work is ongoing you as a homeowner need to make sure you, your friends, your family, pets, neighbors, etc… stay out of the affected areas and away from the entrance and dumpster areas. Even though a contractor will be cleaning up as they go, sneaking in after they have left is strongly discouraged as it is still possible for you to pick up & spread the dust to other areas of your house or to your family. In most cases, quality contractors will schedule time to show you the progress being made, while working to keep you and your family safe.

Contractor: While work is commencing

All workers working on the project must be trained in Lead Safe Work Practices by a Certified Renovator. At no time may you use a heat gun that exceeds 1100 degrees, open flame burning, or torching. If you need to use a power sander, grinder, planer, etc… it must be connected to a HEPA vacuum. You should not eat, drink or smoke in any area’s being worked on and should wash your hands before performing any of those tasks. Cleanup work should be performed at least once per day at the minimum, using a HEPA vacuum, wet sweeping and utilizing other approved methods.

Certified Renovator: Step 2 – Visual Inspection

Once everything has been fully cleaned, the Certified Renovator must perform a Visual Inspection (all that is required for exterior). If any dirt, debris’s, etc… is noted it must be fully cleaned up before moving on to the final step.

One quick word of advice – after the work has been completed, wait one full hour before starting the final cleanup. The one-hour period allows all the dust in the air to settle fully making sure that the final cleanup is the final cleanup.

Certified Renovator: Step 3 – Interior Projects only – Cleaning Verification

Once the final cleanup has been completed and the Certified Renovator has signed off on the Visual Inspection there is one final step left for interior projects. At this time, there are two options available – a Cleaning Verification (CV) done by the Certified Renovator or a Dust Clearance Examination. A CV is simply wiping down certain areas with a wet disposable cleaning cloth (aka a Swifter) to verify that the areas are clean. If this does not seem adequate to you, you may consider getting a Dust Clearance Exam.

A Dust Clearance Exam is required for work on HUD properties and certain government assistance programs. It also may soon be required for all projects if certain Special Interest Groups get there way.  A dust clearance exam must be conducted by an independent third party that is a Certified Lead Inspector, Risk Assessor, or a Dust Sampling Technician. This step can easily add $300 to $500 to a projects cost, but it may provide you with some piece of mind. If you or others require this examination to happen, you need to inform the contractor before the contract is signed and it needs to be listed in the contract.

Certified Renovator: Step 4 – Final Steps

Debris removal – Lead is considered as normal household waste & may be removed normally. All debris’s should be placed in plastic trash bags and sealed tightly. Once this is completed & any cleaning verification is completed, you can now remove all the warning signs, banners and barriers.

Contractor: Final Step – With final invoice or within 30 days of completion (whichever comes first)

UPDATE: The original regulation was modified requiring that “the renovation firm provide information demonstrating compliance with the training and work practice requirements of the RRP rule to the owner of the building being renovated” and any testing results. All results & paperwork must be stored for 3 years after completion.

More Resources

EPA’s LEAD Home Page
HUD’s LEAD Home Page
OSHA’s LEAD Information

HTRC Article: LEAD Notice Requirement
HTRC Article: Primer on EPA Regulations

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  • Harpenden Builders

    Amazing, thank you for discussing it. This issue is one that interests me. Like your blog, an awesome reference. Best wishes. Lawrence

  • John Williams

    The EPA has a good reference called “Using Barriers to Contain Dust and other Pollutants” Here is the link from their site. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-barriers.html. Barriers should be used to contain the spread of dust and other pollutants from the work area to other parts of the home. A simple barrier consists of 6 mil poly sheeting taped over doors and other openings in the room. Poly sheeting should also be taped over any supply and return registers for the home’s heating, cooling, or ventilation system that are in the room to avoid spreading the pollutants or contaminating the ducts. Having blocked off registers, you should be sure to provide ventilation for the area. An exhaust fan, with provision for make-up air, complements this strategy well. For more information, see the discussion of ventilation containment strategies that create a pressure barrier to prevent the spread of pollutants. ZipWall’s new ZipPole system is a great system for this. http://www.zipwall.com/lp/lpZipPole.html

  • Dinah

    Great Post! I love to read articles that are informative and beneficial in nature. Thank You for sharing your knowledge.

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