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Your Interactive Resource for EPA RRP Information

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RRPedia has been created by Shawn McCadden to help remodelers and others affected by the New EPA Renovation Repair and Painting Rule. 

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Undercover Investigation Calls Out EPA on Lack of RRP Enforcement

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, May 25, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Undercover News Investigation Calls Out EPA on Lack of RRP Enforcement

The video below from newsnet5.com offers a good summary of the challenges renovators are up against due to illegal competition and a government that has mandated a law that is meant to protect children without the resources and commitment to follow through. Without enforcement, in addition to causing challenges for complying businesses, the law offers a false sense of security for children and their parents who believe the government is protecting them from lead poisoning.  In fact, as the video points out, the law is in effect actually causing more lead poisoning because of the lower priced illegal contractors who ignore lead-safe work practices.

The RRP rule has definitely contributed to expanding the underground economy in the remodeling industry.   Illegally operating businesses and moonlighters ignoring the rule as well as the required work practices have been stealing work away from legally operating businesses, mostly due to the fact that they can offer much lower prices than those who comply.    This has made it very challenging for many renovators.  It has also put many children at risk of lead poisoning.

Effects of RRP RuleAt a RRP workshop I attended last week, sponsored by the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association (LEHA), several renovators complained to Mike Wilson of EPA about EPA’s handling so far of the RRP rule.   One after the other renovators cited examples of projects they had lost to other businesses that are ignoring the rule.   Several even reported home owners had laughed at them when they tried discussing the rule and its requirements.    One attendee reported that a homeowner actually told him that he would find another contractor who would ignore the rule as a way of saving money.  It all seemed to be new news to Mike Wilson who told us he oversees RRP Policy, so could not comment specifically about enforcement.  When asked what message he would bring back to the EPA in Washington after the meeting, Mike said he would let them know that regulated contractors wanted a level playing field.   Attendees let Mike know that they have been already giving that same message to EPA, perhaps if Mike delivers the message the leadership at EPA will listen and take action.

Topics: Videos, Effects of the RRP Rule, Statistics, Opinions from Renovators, Firm Certification, Enforcement and Inspections

Now, RRP Renovators Can Keep An Eye On Big Brother!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Apr 06, 2011 @ 09:43 AM

Now, RRP Renovators Can Keep An Eye On Big Brother!

Many renovators have expressed concerns about what the EPA is and/or will be doing regarding enforcement of the RRP Rule.  Those who are operating illegally are concerned that EPA may find them and inspect, those who are abiding by the rule are wondering when EPA will do inspections and catch their illegal completion.  Now, thanks to the folks at Check4Lead, renovators have an on-line tool to report and view EPA RRP Inspections across the country. Essentially, the tool allows renovators to keep an eye on “Big Brother”.

The new tool, called EPA Audit Tracker, allows visitors to view the locations of EPA and OSHA inspections related to RRP on a Google Map.  Pin drops appear on the map to mark the location of audits and a variety of different pin drops are used to distinguish between the government agencies doing the audits.  The tool has just been released, so there are not a lot of pin drops yet.   I suspect that will change quickly as renovators become aware of the tool and contribute.


EPA Audit Map


The tool is very easy to use. To report an audit, users can click on the report icon to open a reporting screen.  When the reporting screen opens there is a text box call “your Story” where visitors can report the audit, share details of the audit and express their opinions.   A zip code field is used to locate the pin drops on the map and a valid e-mail address for the person posting the report is required. 

Scott Turman, an owner and product manager at Check for Lead LLC tells me that reports will be manually reviewed for validity and appropriate langauge before being posted to the map.  He also told me, using the required e-mail address; his staff may actually contact the person reporting the audit to verify the report.  After the pin drop is added, visitors can click on the pin drop to view the report.

RRP Inspection reportIn my opinion this tool will be helpful for those renovators following RRP requirements for a variety of reasons.  For example, it will help level the playing field for legally operating businesses if the awareness of audits persuades illegal businesses to change their ways. Because the tool allows those reporting audits to include details about the audit, renovators will learn what to expect and how to better handle an audit if one happens to them. Also, for those who like to help their peers, being able to submit a report that is informative and shares constructive advice becomes a win-win for both the reporter and those who read the reports.

RRP DocumentationOn the other hand, the tool will not likely be helpful to those who knowingly and willfully violate the rule. Knowing where EPA, OSHA and/or states agencies are doing inspections or audits won’t be much help in hiding from an inspector.   As we have seen, job site inspections are not likely.  Removing magnetic signs or parking their trucks out of view won’t protect violators from an audit.  The required documentation gives the authorities the ability to retroactively inspect work practices as well as compliance with owner and occupant pre-notification requirements.  Because the EPA rule dictates that all required documentation be kept for three years, one visit to a renovator’s office by EPA can uncover enough violations and justify enough fines to put an illegal business out of business.  The Massachusetts requirement for storing documents is 10 years, giving illegal businesses in that state much more to be worried about.


I commend the folks at Check4Lead for providing this tool.   In addition to the tools, supplies and compliance colateral they offer at their web site, the EPA Audit Tracker Tool will definitely ultimately help renovators comply with the rule, improve their ability to prove compliance and give them insight on handling an audit.

Topics: Shawn's Predictions, Opinions from Renovators, Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports

Does Economy Buster RRP Have Any Factual Basis?: Guest Blog

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Mar 08, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Does Economy Buster RRP Have Any Factual Basis?  

Ray Douglas

One Person’s Opinion: This is a guest blog submitted by Ray Douglas to express his opinion.  Ray is a remodeling contractor in Brodhead, Wisconsin and has been in business for 34 years. He comments and contributes to RRPedia quite often.  If you would like to express your opinion or offer something of value for RRPedia visitors let me know.




Does Economy Buster RRP Have Any Factual Basis

If lead dust from remodeling is the main reason for elevated blood lead levels (EBBL’s) in children, then why did EBBL’s in children drop dramatically during the same ten year period (1997-2007) that remodeling activities doubled?  The CDC and Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies charts below show this.

Number of children poisoned by lead


Dollars spent on remodeling

In a recent blog, the question was asked of the Director of Massachusetts’ Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program; “How many children in Massachusetts were poisoned by lead due to renovation?”  The answer:  “He had no idea and said the Commonwealth doesn’t track the source of the poisoning.”

A Mercatus Reports article written by Alastair Walling in 2006 states:  “Even though the details of their own studies show little in the way of a link between R&R work and elevated blood lead, the EPA is persisting with its planned certification of R&R workers.  The proposed rules may not produce lower blood-lead levels, but they will raise the cost of renovation and remodeling.”

In a letter dated 11-27-2009, written by SBA Office of Advocacy that was sent to EPA administrator Jackson, makes the following statement:  “Advocacy believes that the evidence in fact shows that private contractors (i.e., professional renovators) subject to reasonable cleanup standards, including the “no visible dust or debris” standard, do not create additional health hazards.”

RRP SignWhen you remove all the smoke and mirrors from this rule, the EPA can prove two thoughts; 1 Some remodeling activities create dust   2 Lead paint dust can create or raise EBLL’s    Independent of each other those two statements can be proven, but the combination (which is a major foundational reason for RRP) is not so clear.  Why?

The EPA admits there are several other sources of lead exposure.  These include lead in soil, water, toys, glassware etc. The following links provide some examples:

If it was suspected that a child got EBBL’s from a remodeling activity, were all the other possibilities of lead exposure ruled out?  Was everything that the child touched or ingested also tested?  That would almost be impossible to do. However, by not doing so, how can it be proven that any lead dust generated by responsible remodelers is a leading cause of EBBL’s in children?  

If the EPA had confidence in the RRP rule, why didn’t they add the following statement inside the RRP Renovate Right pamphlet:

“The contractor, by following these rules, will contain all the lead dust he/she created doing your project, and cannot be held liable for any other past, present or future lead contamination or exposure.”

Because of the extra costs, and the lack of consumer awareness about the dangers of lead, this rule is a tough sell to the customer. It becomes an even tougher sell when the customer asks for evidence to justify the rule.  As discussed above, there is a lot of information that questions the need for it. So, unfortunately, the best answer a contractor may be able to offer is “because it’s the law”.  

RRP LettersSince I can’t explain to the customer the need for this rule, I encourage my customers and prospects to contact their state and federal representatives and ask them to provide facts and figures to explain the need for the RRP rule.  To assist them with this, I supply them with a letter to send to their representatives along with a stamped and addressed envelope.  I encourage all other contractors to consider doing the same.  

To make sending the letters easier, Shawn and I have created sample letter templates that can be shared with and used by remodeling customers and concerned homeowners.  There is a sample contractor letter available as well.  Click here to view or download the letter templates.   Special thanks to Melanie Hodgdon of Business Systems Management for helping edit the letters and for suggesting some of the content of the letters.  



Topics: Effects of the RRP Rule, Letters to send to Politicians, Sales Considerations, Guest Blogs, Statistics, Opinions from Renovators, Health Effects of Lead

I am writing this to explain my feelings about RRP: Guest Blog

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

I am writing this to explain my feelings about RRP

Joe Levitch

One Person’s Opinion: This is a guest blog submitted by Joe Levitch of Levco Builders to express his opinion.  Joe is a remodeling contractor and he is also a Licensed Lead Inspector and the owner of Lead Locators, a lead inspection firm in Boise Idaho. He comments and contributes to RRPedia quite often.  If you would like to express your opinion or offer something of value for RRPedia visitors let me know.



I am writing this to explain my feelings about RRP

There is a wide spectrum of folks who have been affected by the RRP rule from carpenters with a pickup and a dog, to multimillion dollar companies. Not all trades have the same challenges. I believe the painters have it the worst of all with their vertical containment issues and the concern of using ladders over plastic covered surfaces. However, since RRP is a blanket rule for all trades, I suggest we all need to be involved in collectively solving each other’s dilemmas.

Elevated Blood Lead LevelsHow we all choose to respond to the EPA’s oversight of the remodeling industry is a personal one.   I will be the first to admit that initially I found it difficult to understand how invisible dust particles can cause serious health hazards.  But with a little research, I got it. I suggest you can understand it too. Take my word for it, or look it up. I’m sure you will come to the same conclusion.

Not everyone wants to have a real business.  I often describe that my business was akin to “A Lemonade Stand” (Not that I don’t like them in fact I have a family rule that it is illegal to pass one up without stopping).  I have evolved it into a real business and have accepted the responsibilities that go along with it.  My big step forward occurred when I joined NARI.

RRP ContractorThe business part turns me on right now.  However, I understand that there are those who prefer the hands on, the nail gun and the saw.  I happen to prefer the keyboard and the pen.  Having this new RRP rule is a huge challenge to incorporate into any business and I feel many of the same pressures you do.  I believe following the rules and separating my business from others will take me to the next level of success. I also understand there are those who are seeing it from a totally different perspective.

It reminds me of an old story from India about the six blind men that were asked to touch a different part of an elephant and describe what an elephant looks like. The man that touched the leg said it is like a pillar.  The man that touched the tail said an elephant is like a rope; and so on. The truth is that each man is absolutely correct. Only the sighted person can see what the elephant looks like as a whole.

From the perspective of a carpenter the RRP rule is a pain in the butt. From the homeowner’s perspective, it is a way to keep her kids safer, and it jacks up the price for remodeling. From many professional remodelers’ perspectives, the RRP rule is another level of certification and a credential that sets them apart from the competition.  No matter how you look at RRP, it is a new requirement and changes the game we were all used to.

As an industry I would like us to see us move to the fifth step in the Kübler-Ross model made famous in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.

  1. Denial= “ I feel fine, this can’t be happening to me“ (This was done prior to 4-22-2010)
  2. Anger =”Why me?” (Lots of this still floating around)
  3. Bargaining= “Just let me do it the way we always have… I did a fine job of cleaning.” (Some professional organizations are still lobbying for this.)
  4. Depression= “I am so sad, why do I even bother?” (A whole lot of us are dealing with this)
  5. Acceptance= “It’s going to be okay, I can do this thing”  (Most larger companies and some of the rest are well on the way to incorporating the RRP rule into their marketing strategies)

Leaded DustThere is a sufficient body of scientific evidence that lead dust is created during renovation and while disturbing lead based painted surfaces. There is also a significant body of medical knowledge that lead is bad for people. I am educating my perspective clients as fast as I can. To the extent that they get it, and see a value in what I offer, I will be a clear choice for those who live in Pre 1978 homes.

For those among us that have made it to the fifth level, I would like to open a national discussion about how we are coping with the challenges and succeeding. The East coast has been dealing with these issues for a lot longer that the West. Shawn has been gracious enough to share the stage for a moment and see if the concept gains traction. My goal is to plant the seed.

Topics: Sales Considerations, Guest Blogs, Marketing Considerations, Opinions from Renovators, Health Effects of Lead

RRP And Politics As Usual - Guest Blog

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sat, Jan 22, 2011 @ 06:00 PM

RRP And Politics As Usual

Paul Lesieur One Person’s Opinion: This is a guest blog submitted by Paul Lesieur to express his opinion.  Paul is a Yankee trained craftsman and the founder of www.remodelcrazy.com.  He comments and contributes to RRPedia quite often.  If you would like to express your opinion or offer something of value for RRPedia visitors let me know.



RRP And Politics As Usual

Frustrated with RRP

A lot has been written and said about the EPA's RRP rule. It's here and we need to deal with the impact it will put on home remodeling.

What About It?

At first some contractors and even the NARI group were proudly proclaiming how this is perfect to separate themselves from the hacks. Truth is, only some members complied some did not. But still, most contractors agreed it’s good to protect the clients and their workers, there has never been an argument over that.

Some contractors saw it as government interference and an opportunity for lower priced criminals pretending to be contractors to have yet one more advantage in this price sensitive economy.

The new RRP rule is a game changer, it was badly promoted and even after all this time most homeowners are unaware of the RRP rule and many contractors, real estate professionals and lenders haven't heard of it. This is proving to be a political curve ball that may end up doing much more harm than good.

The Good!

The RRP may be the event that began a movement to unite our industry, something our present organizations have failed to accomplish. It will certainly raise standards for safer and cleaner work sites, and it will provide a dialogue between Realtors, lenders and remodeling professionals with more than just the usual requests for fast and free estimates. The RRP may also insure that permits get issued only to registered firms.  Some contractors will successfully use the RRP rule to sell work, although this will be a small part of the market. So in a way this rule, if it ever gets known to the general public will make it clear that homeowners need to hire licensed companies for most work.

The Bad!

Some contractors will lose work, mostly at the middle where a difference of 1 or 2 thousand dollars in price can cost you the job. There is no getting around the fact that the RRP rule has added time and money to an already complicated process. Remodeling has always been a carefully orchestrated series of events and now we have added another process to the mix.

Public awareness is minimal. Misinformation is rampant and even the EPA is on record saying the costs for complying with the rule will be between $8 and $167 per job. I hope homeowners don't believe that.

Contractors will have yet another business expense that the unlicensed companies won't have. And the list goes on.

Some new and important changes will be coming our way concerning the RRP; mainly the states will be taking over interpreting and enforcing the rule. If you think it’s a pain now, wait until your state starts telling you how it wants things done.

When the bankers get educated what's going to happen when you apply to refinance your 1952 ranch home? Think this isn't being discussed with loan underwriters? Think again!

Comments about RRP Rule





Here are some comments, all from licensed business owners, all have been in business for 10 to 30 years. These people have managed to grow their businesses and ride the ups and downs of our American economy, read what they have to say.


PN of Minneapolis.

I am known for my clean work sites, some customers have even told me it was ok to be a little more messy, but I am who I am. Concerning the RRP, this will add time and money for certain jobs and that will make me less competitive, it can be a deal breaker if my competition isn't doing the RRP or charging for it.

KC of Los Angeles.

That's always been my biggest problem with this RRP thing. It's not OUR lead. It's the homeowner's problem, and we are bound by law to handle it a certain way or face severe fines and possibly devastating civil suits. The handling costs money, and the client is responsible for absorbing that cost as part of the project.

But the clients don't seem to want to grasp this concept. The EPA has stacked the deck against us from the git-go. Publishing information that states the average cost for proper handling starts at $35??? And the homeowners are exempt if they do the work themselves.

Has anyone had any consistent success in getting homeowners to absorb a $1500 added cost (or more) for lead paint safe handling?

Every contractor I know is either ignoring the rule altogether, or eating the cost of the visqueen and tape and suits and all that crap just to get the damn job.
I have literally been laughed at by homeowners for including an RRP charge in my estimates. Most of them view it as a nanny state regulation and just more government control.
And why pay for it when there are dozens of other contractors that will either ignore it altogether or eat the cost themselves.

The government screwed the pooch on the way they handled this. And guess what, it isn't working and probably never will

WS of New Jersey

We're a manufacturer of vinyl replacement windows in Northern NJ (NYC Metro), we sell retail and wholesale. We also do our own installations and have experienced a downturn in installations due to RRP costs. We are playing by the rules, but getting hammered from it.

RJ of Connecticut.

I sweated my way through a one room paint proposal presentation that had a $568 charge for RRP because the house was built in 1977. Homeowners agreed after several eyebrows went up and down several times, 15 minutes of my lecturing about lead paint and the admission that their six year old grandson lives with them 4 days each week. I enjoy being a craftsman, not the tax collector or bureaucrat.

The homeowner opt-out is unfortunate- that is the most likely time for the target population (children) to be exposed to the contaminant.

The Ugly!

So far the RRP rule is growing an underground group of non compliant contractors. It’s a divisive rule and even the supporters are starting to keep their opinions private. The solution is to study this rule and look for the loopholes that will repeal some of the suggested work practices. If the EPA says it cost $8 to $167 to comply then it should. Testing can be done (by contractors) to find some simple but effective work habits.

Topics: Sales Considerations, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Renovators

Was The RRP Created for the Right Reasons? - Guest Blog

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 @ 06:05 AM

Was The RRP Created for the Right Reasons?  

Ray Douglas

One Person’s Opinion: This is a guest blog submitted by Ray Douglas to express his opinion.  Ray is a remodeling contractor in Brodhead, Wisconsin and has been in business for 34 years. He comments and contributes to RRPedia quite often.  If you would like to express your opinion or offer something of value for RRPedia visitors let me know.




Was RRP Created for the Right Reasons?  

The EPA had good reasons and intentions at first to study the effects and causes of elevated blood lead levels, but the levels of EBLL’s in children ages 6 and under dropped dramatically in years 1997-2007. Data from the CDC documents the drop. 


Drop in EBLL's


So common sense and logic would say this problem was correcting itself without this new rule.  So what is the reason for RRP?

The EPA has been working for years on the effects of remodeling and renovation in connection with EBLL’s.  The EPA’s Proposed RRP Rule issued on January 10, 2006 describes how some of their research was conducted.  

Money spent on RRP ResearchIn a document dated December 1998 EPA received a study that “was funded and managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.”   I suspect EPA spent millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars on research, studies, the writing of and implementation of the RRP rule.

But something happened along the way and EBLL’s in children 6 and under dropped dramatically.  So why did EPA go ahead with the RRP?  In my opinion one of two things happened. 

  1. EPA didn’t notice EBLL’s were dropping      
  2. EPA knew the levels were dropping, but had to justify all the taxpayer money they had already spent. 

The EPA couldn’t go back to congress and tell them most of the money they spent was a waste because the problem was correcting itself.

So what did EPA do?  Create the RRP.  Why?  In my opinion I think it was to justify taxpayer money spent and to create a need for future EPA growth.   A similar situation would be like a department in industry that doesn’t use its entire operating budget in a year.   The next year the budget gets cut (layoffs etc), so the department finds a way to use the money whether it is productive or not, so they don’t have to face a budget cut the following year.

Education and public awareness were keys to EBLL’s dropping, but that may have been problematic for the EPA.  If education and public awareness were enough to reduce the problem then the EPA could potentially lose some of its congressional funding.   But by creating RRP, EPA takes a problem that was solving itself---creates regulations to solve it---then those regulations in themselves become a problem----therefore giving EPA a reason for its own existence and more congressional funding.

Topics: Guest Blogs, Statistics, Opinions from Renovators, Health Effects of Lead