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5 days & counting – Do I need to use a Certified Firm?

As I have mentioned before, there are plenty of gray areas in this regulation & some of the biggest questions revolve around the certification issue. “Do I need to be certified” or “does the firm I hire need to be certified”? As a homeowner, while you may be exempt from the regulation, the contractors you hire are not. So let us first take a look at the regulation & see if we can clarify the issue up on the firms from a business owners standpoint.

§ 745.80 Purpose.

This subpart contains regulations developed under sections 402 and 406 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2682 and 2686) and applies to all renovations performed for compensation in target housing and child-occupied facilities.

§ 745.81 Effective dates.

(2) Firms … (ii) On or after April 22, 2010, no firm may perform, offer, or claim to perform renovations without certification from EPA under §745.89 in target housing or child-occupied facilities, unless the renovation qualifies for one of the exceptions identified in §745.82(a) or (c).

§ 745.82 Applicability.

(a) This subpart applies to all renovations performed for compensation in target housing and child-occupied facilities, except for the following:

(1) Renovations in target housing or child-occupied facilities in which a written determination has been made by an inspector or risk assessor … that the components affected by the renovation are free of paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligrams/per square centimeter (mg/cm2 ) or 0.5% by weight, where the firm performing the renovation has obtained a copy of the determination.

(2) Renovations in target housing or child-occupied facilities in which a certified renovator … has tested each component affected by the renovation and determined that the components are free of paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5% by weight…

One quick item you might have noticed is that we did not list the .82 C exemption. The reason for that is that it revolves around the Opt-Out option that is slated to be removed.

Based on the regulation, all firms that work for compensation on pre-78 properties (Rental Property Owners, Sub-contractors, General Contractors, Specialty Contractors, Sole Proprietor, Multi National Firms, etc…) need to be certified by the EPA. The only valid exemption is if the property has been declared lead free or below the de minimus level set by the EPA.

Needless to say, this is causing some major confusion based on answers given by the EPA, trainers, and others (including me). Based on info handed out, one could easily install cabinets, vinyl siding, etc… if they do not disturb the paint. For instance – this is from one of the EPA’s FAQ’s:

If a general contractor hires a subcontractor to work at a renovation site, does the subcontractor need to be a certified firm if the subcontractor does not disturb any paint?

Firms performing tasks that disturb no painted surfaces whatsoever do not need to be certified.  However, since conditions at the job site may be difficult to predict, EPA strongly recommends that all firms involved in the renovation be certified and use properly trained and certified personnel.  For example, a firm hired to install an HVAC system after demolition of painted surfaces has taken place may find that to complete the job painted surfaces need to be disturbed.  The HVAC firm may not engage in activities that disturb painted surfaces if it is not certified.  

As every renovation job is different, it is up to the firm acting as the general contractor to determine what activities are within the scope of the renovation and to ensure that other firms are properly trained and certified for the tasks they will be performing.  All firms, including the firm acting as the general contractor, are responsible for making sure the renovation is performed in accordance with the work practice standards, including keeping containment intact and making sure lead dust and debris do not leave the work site.   General contractors should keep in mind that if a firm hires a subcontractor that fails to follow the work practice standards or otherwise violates the Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule, the firm that hired the subcontractor is also responsible for the violation.

So which is it? Well, based on the spirit & intent of the law, you might be able to install cabinets in a house without getting in trouble, but based on the letter of the law though, I would recommend that you get certified – $300 is a lot cheaper than $37,500. In tomorrow’s article, we are going to take a look at the question on “Do I need to have a Certified Renovator on staff” or “Do I need to use a Certified Renovator?”

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