Read an EPA Q&A on Lead Paint

Lead paint fatigue? Still skeptical of the risk? Sorry, remodelers, but the time is up for resisting, complaining about, and ignoring the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule.

Here's what you and at least 200,000 other contractors must do by April 22: pay a $300 fee to register your company with the EPA, pay a few hundred more to train at least one employee as an EPA-certified renovator, talk with your insurer about coverage against lead lawsuits, and pay more still for gear including HEPA-filter vacuums and body protection.

Then, for every pre-1978 home whose interior you disturb by more than 6 square feet (20 square feet on the exterior), you'll want to rethink how you estimate jobs (costs will go up) and roll out full "lead-safe practices" such as posting warning signs, training your staff in dust containment and cleanup measures, verifying cleanliness, and keeping records for at least three years.

And if you don't? EPA can fine you "up to $32,500 per violation, per day," according to the agency's Small Entity Compliance Guide. "But your bigger risk is if your client hires an attorney because Johnny doesn't feel right," says Connecticut remodeler Bob Hanbury. He has been working with the EPA and the National Association of Home Builders on lead guidelines since 1992. While guessing that many contractors won't comply with the law, he expects those "with assets" to be prime targets for related lawsuits.

  • Credit: REMODELING magazine

To learn more about the rule and remodelers' concerns about training, enforcement, and public awareness, visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint, or click here.

—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.