Category Archives: Goverment Affairs

EPA Underestimates Costs and Overestimates Benefit of Lead Rule

From our friends at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), some recent news about the ongoing battle for legislation to restore the homeowners’ right to opt out of costly lead based paint removal protocols:

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General reported on the findings of an investigation into the agency’s economic analysis of the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule. Not surprisingly, that report determined that the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) underestimated the rule’s cost and overestimated its benefits.

Moreover, the EPA Inspector General found that the training manual and subsequent “certified renovator” training failed to clearly delineate which lead-safe work practices are mandated and which are simply recommendations.

For more information about what the NAHB is doing to improve the effectiveness and reduce the cost of this rule, check out this recent article on Housing Zone by Professional Remodeler.

LEAD legislation needs your support!

Our friends at NAHB Remodelers, our national affiliate, have provided a simple and convenient way to show your support for  the newly proposed S. 2148, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012

On March 1, 2012 Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced S. 2148, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012.  This piece of legislation improves the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule (RRP) which has hampered the home building industry with burdensome compliance costs. 

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the RRP rule establishing new requirements for contractors and remodelers working in homes built before 1978.  The rule prescribes a series of work practices and contractor certification requirements as a way to address impacts associated with the disturbance of lead-painted surfaces in older housing.  Specifically designed to address potential lead exposures to children under six years of age and pregnant women, the RRP rule requires contractors and remodelers working in older homes to obtain certification from the EPA. 

This legislation will restore the “Opt-Out Provision” from the RRP rule which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of lead-safe work practices.  By restoring the “opt-out provision”, it will eliminate unnecessary regulations and compliance costs estimated at $508 million a year.

Read more here.

Urge your Senators to support this legislation here.

NAHB Endorsed Legislation Introduced to Reduce Lead Regulatory Burden

This just in from the National Association of Home Builders in Washington D.C.:

Responding to concerns from NAHB Remodelers and affiliated trade groups, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on March 1 introduced S. 2148, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012,  to improve the lead paint rule for remodelers who must comply with the costly work practices and record keeping requirements of the rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s  Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting (LRRP) rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, requires that remodelers and contractors working in homes built before 1978 be trained and certified by the EPA on lead-safe work practices before they can legally work in those homes.

The bill was introduced with five original co-sponsors: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

NAHB is urging its members to contact their senators and call on them to co-sponsor the Inhofe bill. The association is also seeking the introduction of companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 would:

  • Reinstate the opt-out provision to allow home owners without small children or pregnant women residing in them to decide whether to require LRRP compliance, not the government.
  • Suspend the LRRP if EPA does not approve a commercially available test kit that meets the regulation’s requirements.
  • Allow remodelers the “right to cure” paperwork errors found during an inspection.
  • Eliminate the “hands on” recertification training requirements.
  • Prohibit EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until at least one year after the agency conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.
  • Clarify the definition of “abatement” to specifically exclude remodeling and renovation activities.
  • Provide an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations

Read the full story here.

The Importance of Tax Credits and Home Equity Loan Spending

Our friends at the NAHB just posted this interesting article about the correlation between tax credits, home equity lending, and remodeling activity in this current economy.

Historically, home equity loans have been an important source of funding for home improvement spending. The following analysis demonstrates this relationship and examines what impact recent declines in home equity loan use have had on the remodeling sector, as well as the positive effects of the residential energy-efficient tax credits. In particular, as home equity withdrawal declined during the Great Recession, remodeling spending fell. But the decline in remodeling activity was tempered by the existence of the tax credit programs.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey (AHS), in 2005, 48% of home equity loan dollars were used for home improvement. That percentage has grown in recent years, increasing to 49% in 2007 and 51% in 2009 (the most recent edition of the AHS).

Read the full article on the NAHB blog here.

EPA RRP Enforcement Wake Up Call

On May 26th, the Professional Remodelers Organization welcomed nearly double the number of remodelers than normal for our 7:30am Remodelers’ Round Table discussion.  What topic would bring out so many people for what is generally billed as an informal gathering of professionals for open format discussion on topics ranging from contracts or insurance to finding good employees?

One word… Lead.

The PRO arranged for an OSHA inspector to participate and help demystify some of the angst and confusion surrounding lead based paint rules in Oregon.

There were a lot of questions and hopefully some good answers, but it seems like this recent blog post by Jonathan Sweet from HousingZone.com sheds a little light on why there is so much momentum around this subject right now…

All the remodelers out there who thought that the EPA RRP lead paint rules weren’t going to be enforced may want to think again. 

The EPA announced in May it would be pursuing action against a Rockland, Maine, remodeler for alleged violation of the RRP rules. The EPA has said that Colin Wentworth is facing fines of at least $150,000 for multiple violations.

It’s the first punitive action the EPA has taken for violation of the new rules, although the agency has cited several companies for failing to provide the “Renovate Right” pamphlet to owners of pre-1978 homes. That has been required of remodelers for years, but many have ignored it.

The relatively lax enforcement of that rule has probably been what led many remodelers to think this would be no big deal.

Read the rest of the article to see what has changed… and keep an eye out in late July for our next Remodelers’ Round Table.

CCB Sting Surprises Uncertified Locksmiths and Unlicensed Contractors

From CCB Press Release

On January 19 and 20, 2011, uncertified locksmiths and unlicensed contractors in the Happy Valley area had a surprise waiting for them.

The Construction Contractors Board (CCB) conducted a sting operation designed to curb uncertified locksmith and unlicensed contractor activity in the area. The Portland ABC affiliate KATU participated and filmed the action. The CCB partnered with a member of the Pacific Locksmith Association to locate a sting house.

At the end of the two-day sting, CCB issued 8 individuals a total of 9 proposed field orders; 3 for unlicensed construction activity and 6 for uncertified locksmith activity.  Field Investigators forwarded additional reports to CCB’s Enforcement section for further investigation and possible action.

“Illegal activity doesn’t just hurt the consumer,” says Robert Rambo, Manager of CCB’s Field Investigations. “It hurts the legitimate contractors that work hard to stay in compliance only to get undercut by those who don’t. The CCB is committed to finding and penalizing those working illegally.”

Though licensing of construction contractors have been part of Oregon law since the 1970’s, laws requiring locksmith certification and licensing became effective July 1, 2010. Locksmiths in Oregon are required to be certified and the business licensed by the CCB unless exempted by law.

Prior to the sting, the CCB obtained leads from advertisements, Craig’s list, public bulletin boards, and other unnamed sources.

The CCB has stepped up enforcement efforts throughout the state with more stings planned as well as job-site checks happening at any given time on any day of the week.

Contractors and consumers can report illegal activity on the CCB website or by calling the agency at 503-378-4621.

The CCB strongly encourages consumers to verify a contractor is actively licensed. Consumers can easily check the license and complaint history at www.oregon.gov/CCB or by calling 503-378-4621.

Licensed contractors have a bond and insurance which offer some financial protections if something were to go wrong. Homeowners can get help resolving construction-related disputes within a year from the time the work was substantially completed or the work stopped. These protections are only available if the contractor is licensed with the CCB.

CCB Reminds Contractors of the Lead-Based Paint Safety Requirements in Oregon

From the CCB Blog

The Construction Contractors Board (CCB) reminds Oregon construction contractors that enforcement of the new lead based paint (LBP) safety regulations continues in Oregon.

The new LBP requirements, commonly called “RRP” (Renovation, Repair and Painting) requirements, are federal EPA requirements that became effective April 22, 2010. States can apply to the EPA to administer the program.

The CCB began enforcing the new LBP requirements when the EPA authorized Oregon to “take over” the program in May 2010.

Contractors that remodel or demolition homes, schools, or facilities where children regularly visit, constructed in and before1978, are required to obtain from the CCB, a certified Lead-Based Paint Renovation (LBPR) Contractors license. To qualify, an owner or employee must complete the RRP training from an approved provider and complete a CCB LBPR application. The license is $50 a year and can be renewed annually.

The RRP training is an eight hour course that instructs contractors on the required practices to protect the public from lead contaminants. These standards of practice are found in Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 333- 070-0090.

“CCB recognizes the new requirements have made for tough state laws,” says Richard Blank, Enforcement Manager. “At the same time, the agency takes seriously the enforcement of these laws for the protection of the public.”

Fines for working without the proper licensing or violating standards of practice are $1000 (first violation), $3000 (second violation) and $5000 (third and subsequent violations).

For more information on the CCB lead-based paint laws for renovation work or to download the application for CCB’s LBPR contractor’s license, visit http://www.oregon.gov/CCB/lead-based-paint.shtml.