NARI Study Finds Homeowners Skirting RRP Compliance

June 27, 2011

Homeowners are telling remodeling contractors that the costs of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rules are too high, according to a National Association of the Remodeling Industry study.  More than three quarters of the remodelers surveyed report that potential or current homeowner clients have indicated to them they would opt to do their own remodeling or hire someone regardless of their compliance to federal regulations, because compliance costs are too high.

The NARI study also looked the cost of “lead clearance testing,” which could be added to the EPA requirements for renovations in homes built prior to 1978. Although it is not required yet, 26 percent of remodeler respondents to the survey report doing clearance testing.  Among that group, 26 percent estimate that testing will add more than $1,000 to the cost of a typical job and more than half say it will add more than $500. 

"NARI is concerned that EPA’s implementation of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting rules may increase the likelihood of lead poisoning to children, as opposed to lowering the risk," the study states. "Homeowners are telling their contractors in essence that, 'Any cost added to a project is too much,' with regard to the current rule that went into effect in 2010. Many of our respondents stated they lost projects because the added cost caused homeowners to hire uncertified individuals or to perform renovation work themselves. This contradicts the intent of the rule, which is to protect children and pregnant women from the possible danger of lead exposure. This concern is magnified with the possibility of EPA layering on yet another stipulation to the existing LRRP Rule, adding costs for homeowners and contracting businesses alike." 

NARI agrees that children and pregnant women must be protected from the dangers of lead poisoning, the organization emphasizes, noting that it has educated its members on lead safety long before the EPA regulation was enacted. NARI states, however, that as a result of the rising costs of RRP regulations, homeowners may hire a non-compliant, less-skilled handyman or contractor to do a project, do parts or all of a project themselves, or reject doing projects altogether. 

"Two of the three scenarios above would put children and pregnant women at risk for lead poisoning, and all three put the industry itself at risk, because the rising cost of hiring lead-certified remodelers is too high for homeowners," NARI states. "The consequence of any of these scenarios would be another downturn for an industry of predominantly small businesses still recovering from the last recession."

“Low incomes, unemployment, tight credit, costlier home remodeling, and larger liabilities in the industry are a recipe for disaster,” says David Merrick, president of Merrick Design & Build Inc., Kensington, Md., and chair of NARI's government affairs committee. “We will have hazardous renovation work undertaken by under-skilled workers or homeowners because of regulations that should be reviewed and re-established with reasonable solutions.”