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EPA Finally Going After Firms Not Certified Under RRP Rule?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 31,2013 @ 06:00 AM

RRP Rule updatesEPA Finally Going After Firms Not Certified Under RRP Rule?

The EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP) came into effect in April of 2010. Since that time over 100,000 firms have been lead-safe certified by EPA, and about 20,000 more have been certified or licensed in the twelve states authorized by EPA to take over the rule.  And, approximately 450,000 individuals are now Certified Renovators after having been trained in lead-safe work practices.

These numbers might sound impressive to the lay person

Even EPA has continuously touted these numbers as great progress.   However, there are at least 650,000 businesses in the United States that claim most of their revenues from renovation work.  And, many other businesses from industries other than construction and many landlords also perform work that falls under the RRP rule.   I estimate there are at least one million entities that should have been certified to do RRP work by now if EPA was actually enforcing the RRP Rule intended to protect children from lead poisoning.  


Report card update

Lead poisoning effects on children



Last year at this time I posted a blog on RRPedia that was a report card on how I thought EPA had been performing regarding the RRP Rule.  I just finished re-reading it and, unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed in the past year.  

The lack of adequate enforcement leaves a false sense of protection for parents and citizens who believe their government is protecting our young children from the dangers of lead.  Many contractors and others believe EPA’s lack of enforcement has actually caused an increase in the poisoning of children as a result of the rule.  This very same consideration was shared with EPA by stakeholders well before the rule went into place.  Their argument is that illegally operating businesses are getting an unfair competitive advantage because they can sell jobs at a much lower price by avoiding the required work practices.  Homeowners unaware of the rule and or the real dangers of lead poisoning, looking to save money, buy from these illegally operating businesses.


Here is one contractor’s way of assessing the situation and his opinion about the rule:



Has EPA finally taken action?

Recently EPA has finally publicly recognized that too many firms are still operating without the required certification, have not following the required lead-safe work practices and “may” be putting children at risk for lead exposure. 

EPA RRP Enforsement updateEPA claims it wants to level the playing field for those contractors who are already certified. But, rather than go after these firms and bring them into compliance, EPA has decided to send them a post card.  You heard that right, rather than do enforcement, they are sending out a post card.

EPA is mailing a postcard to non-certified contractors in target areas around the country in states that have significant amounts of older housing.  According to EPA, their goal is to “remind” these contractors of their obligation to become certified.  I guess EPA assumes they forgot to become certified so they need to be reminded. 

How effective do you think their “reminder” campaign will be?


Note: Thanks to Paul Lesieur for his musical talents and humor in the video above. 

Topics: Videos, Opinions from Contractors, RRP Related

Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Busines Owner Offers Peers Advise

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Mar 21,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Justin Jones


Guest Blogger: Justin Jones is a licensed General Contractor, Roofing Contractor, and Plumbing Contractor based out of Palm Harbor, FL. Justin is also a writer and speaker on topics including Contractor Sales, Marketing, and Leadership. At 32 years old, he is a member of Generation Y.


Mentor Me, Please - Gen Y Business Owner Offers Peers Advise on How to Learn From Craftsmen

Dealing with older tradesman can be tricky at times. In my own business, I've been dealing with this interesting arrangement for the past seven years. Through the ups and downs, I have managed to form some great relationships with older tradesman.

At first, I expected them to complete tasks with incredible haste, but ultimately, I realized that there was no harm in taking things a bit slower. I set out to establish a mentor-mentee relationship with these older, more experienced tradesmen.


Start With Respect

Respecting older craftsmenRespect. From those first meetings with prospective employees, I've always been careful to offer the utmost respect, particularly when it came to older craftsmen. I respected them based on their many years of experience.  I took the time to listen to stories about the good ole' days and how things were done differently.  I'd smile and nod my head as I listened. Many of the stories were well-told and well-crafted, providing me with wonderful insights and lessons. I never questioned the knowledge of my senior tradesmen.  And if questions ever did arise, I was always careful to ask in a tactful manner.

Communication.  As I'm in the process of hiring a new individual, I always inquire about their communication preferences. For years, most individuals would indicate their preference for phone calls. But more recently, individuals have expressed a preference for emails and texts. Quick and concise “yes” and “no” communications amongst my team members have served to maintain an open dialogue platform. These open lines of communications have made my employees feel comfortable to call at any time if they need direction or they're second-guessing a decision. I feel this is an extremely important part of our business.

Questions. From job to job, I take the time to lend a helping hand, whether it's loading materials or inspecting trade tools. These interactions provide a perfect opportunity for asking questions. Many tools had the appearance of museum artifacts, but every once in a while, I got a chance to see these relic tools in action; my skepticism was squashed after viewing their quick time-saving functions. I got to return the favor as the building codes have changed several times over the past four years. I'd receive calls from tradesmen, who were wondering if there had been a code change. Sharing back my knowledge has proved to be a great opportunity to build rapport and return the favor.

Gen Y Bussines OwnerBuilding Rapport. Last week, I approached my team – consisting of several individuals in their late 40s and 50s. I had the opportunity to get their feedback on what they enjoyed most about working on my team.  Their answers were all based around rapport. They liked the fact I support their decisions and they were grateful for my willingness to step in and help without being asked. As the leader, I've always been quick to step in and get the project back on track if issues arise. In addition, I've learned that communication with these team members must be clear, concise and written. Accommodating them in this way has led to much better productivity and the strong rapport makes for a healthier work environment.


Learn to be humble

I turn 32 this year and I'm willing to admit to my team that I don’t know everything and on occasion, I need help. Many individuals in my generation believe they know everything, but Google won’t teach you how to work as team, nor will it teach you how to maintain your focus on accomplishing a goal.

Respect for older craftsmen

We work as a team as we complete tasks and gather referrals.  This team approach has created a wonderful synergy between me and my team members. We have built a relationship based upon trust and open communication.

My advice, what do you think?

Approach older tradesman and offer them the respect they deserve. Be willing to learn from these more experienced individuals. Adopt a mentor-mentee relationship and you may be surprised by how much you can learn from these older tradesmen.  Anything you would like to add?


Topics: New Business Realities, Recruting, Team Building, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y, Culture

New Business Owner's Perspective Regarding Reputation Of Our Industry

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Mar 19,2013 @ 06:00 AM

New Business Owner Offers Perspective Regarding Reputation Of Construction Industry

Randy Strauss


Guest Blogger: Randy Strauss is a new handyman business owner trying to find his way in the age of social media and 30 minute pizza delivery.  When he is not repairing other people’s homes, he tries to find time to repair his own.



As a consumer, I preferred to do everything myself rather than hire someone to do it. There are times when I’ve hired people to do work when I didn’t have the necessary skills and sometimes it was just cost effective to have a crew do it in a day or two when I knew it would take me a week doing it by myself.

Construction Industry ReputationMost of my experience with contractors has been from a consumer perspective. Those experiences have run the gamut of “outstanding” when jobs were completed in the blink of any eye and a minimum of dust to “outrage” when an HVAC contractor told me to go “F” myself when I asked him to honor his one year warranty.

In November of 2012 I was unemployed and carpet bombing every job ad in sight was exhausting. So, I decided to start a handyman business. My experiences using contractors motivated me to do so because I saw an opportunity needing to be filled.


Using What I Learned as a Consumer

Now that I’m working in other people’s homes, I can use that perspective to manage my clients’ expectations, perform work that meets my standards, and finish the day satisfied that I do good work. When I’m not working, I do research to better myself as a business owner and contractor.

lead generation websites for contractorsDuring this research, I read a few blog entries on this site regarding Chris Dietz’s lawsuit filed against a customer who allegedly posted libelous comments about his work on review websites.  The posts from fellow contractors were generally positive, but I noticed that supportive comments were conditional.  For instance, “…providing he’s telling the truth…” and “…as long as he’s honest…”

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, which I understand may be ultimately fruitless; we are still faced with cynicism about our profession.

That is a black cloud of distrust hovering over our industry.  That sense of distrust has led us to lead generation review websites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.  When fellow contractors feel the need to put conditions on support for one of our own, it reeks of skepticism. 


I believe those doubts are founded in two fallacies:

  1. The customer is always right.  No, they’re not.  They may have the right to decide the paint color or the tile selection, but when they ask us to remove a load-bearing wall because they want to “open the space” they are quite simply wrong. It’s our responsibility to educate them why.
  2. Customers have a right to freedom of speech. They do.  But, that right is worthless without the responsibility of truth.  No one has the right to slander or libel another person.

Construction Indusrty reputaionTo be honest, I’m terrified of working for that client that has nothing better to do than bad mouth my new found profession.  I hope I never meet them.

What can, should we do?

If you go to someone’s house to repair something that another contractor ruined, tell them to follow up with a complaint to the BBB. Follow up with that yourself.  By getting rid of the bad actors, we can ensure respect and trust in the future.  Perhaps a self-regulating entity might not be such a bad idea in light of the above.  So, my questions to you are these:  What can we do to improve the perception of our profession?  What would make the average consumer, and us at times, less likely to believe that a contractor ripped off a client? Doesn’t it make your blood boil that you are less likely to be trusted in someone’s home because profit happy thugs with hammers and a screwdrivers have ruined the reputation of our professionalism?


Topics: Future of the Remodeling Industry, Differentiating your Business, Dietz Lawsuit Related, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors

In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Feb 20,2013 @ 05:19 PM

In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: The Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Walt Stoeppelwerth


On February 18th, 2013 Walt Stoeppelwerth passed away.  Walt was the President of HomeTech Inc in Bethesda, MD for over thirty years.  I have always been an admirer of Walt and all he did for me as well as our industry. Walt Stoeppelwerth's obituary only offers a small piece of what he did in his lifetime. 

During my early years as a remodeler I observed that Walt made many predictions about the future of the remodeling industry.  Those predictions included trends, challenges, shifts, business systems and methods of production.   Many of his predictions came true.  For a whole variety of reasons, other predictions may have been challenged by a lack of continuous development or adequate leadership within the industry.  Regardless, Walt kept beating his drum about what our industry needed to keep top of mind.  Until that is, he could no longer fend off the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.


Walt help shape the Remodeling Industry

What I observed to be unique about Walt was that he not only predicted the future, he also participated in making it happen.  I suggest he was a visionary with a unique ability to identify, fully understand and solve existing as well as future challenges within the industry.  He would share his observations, speculate on the likely consequences if the challenges were not addressed, and suggest or predict the solutions he felt would address the challenges.   His brilliance was his ability to then create and provide the required solutions, and, through his consulting, direct others who wanted to participate in making the evolution happen.  

The Godfather Of Remodeling Although some feel such tactics might be self-serving, I disagree.  It is my opinion that Walt was a truly caring person who loved and gave his best to the industry, always willing to help people.  I think of him as a man who did and gave great things to the industry and the people he loved, and he found a way to be well paid while doing so.  By being well paid, he could afford to keep doing what he did and, perhaps more important, he kept getting better at it!  A good example for all of us to consider for our own businesses.

Walt was always up for a good debate about industry topics. 

Fortunate for me, I got to have many of those debates with Walt.  His purpose was never to prove anyone wrong or demonstrate his authority and knowledge.  Rather I observed his purpose was to always gain additional understanding and insight from others, so he could then use what he learned to complement what he knew and in turn offer better solutions to those he worked with.  I always left those debates with more knowledge and a greater understanding of each topic we explored.  In many ways he was a mentor to me.  I was and am still today honored to have taken his spot as a columnist for Remodeling magazine.

Carrying on Walt's example

The Godfather Of Remodeling Walt Stoeppelwerth


From what I observed, Walt lived the value of continuous improvement.  His business model was not reactive to the perceived and often misguided needs expressed by remodelers and industry partners, but rather proactive in creating and providing the solutions and the guidance remodelers and industry partners really needed to improve and foster true success.

In summary, Walt had the intimate knowledge, insight, creativity, resources, contacts, relationships and solutions to change the industry and cause tremendous social benefit at the same time. 

When people feel better about themselves and their businesses, they listen and seek for more of what helped them. Additionally, many then share what they have and know with others with the hopes that they too will benefit.  Walt was a master at setting that example and making it happen for so many remodelers.

I am grateful for his example and for all I learned from Walt.   He may have left our industry, but he will never be forgotten.  I know many of you feel the same way.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories about Walt and what he did for you and your business.  I’m sure his family will be grateful to know.


Thanks Walt.


Topics: Remodeler Education, Future of the Remodeling Industry, Careers in Construction, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching, Opinions from Contractors, Leadership

Contractors: How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Mark Brown


Guest Blogger: Mark Brown is a student at BYU-Idaho where he studies Construction Management. He currently lives in Spokane, WA, working as a carpenter and studying online while his wife finishes her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. This article is a shortened version of an essay titled “Is Generation Y learning how to learn?” written by Mark for a research writing class. It has been revised to help contractors working with Gen Y employees.


Advice For Contractors On How To Work With Generation Y From One Of Them

Generation Y in construction“Things just aren’t the way they used to be” is a lament often heard from aging generations. However nostalgic and skeptical this observation may be, it is definitely true. Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000) is growing up in a world completely different than their parents. Today we are surrounded throughout our waking hours by new technologies and devices that feed us steady and seemingly infinite flows of information, providing us with instant connection to knowledge that used to be much more difficult to acquire. Obviously, things are not the way they used to be. One can’t help but wonder; how do these changes affect our daily lives?  The way we work?  Our relationships with others?  The way we see ourselves?  How we learn?  

Contractors today face an especially daunting task trying to teach the business to a generation that learns completely different than the average hard-knocks PhD. Understanding these differences is essential to utilizing the huge talent Gen Y possesses and snuffing your own doubts of any hope for the future. 

The way Gen Y learns is fundamentally different than their parents.

Hiring Generation Y


They process information about ten times faster, they expect free and instant access to all this information, and they wonder what everyone else thinks about it all. Most have grown up learning on a computer from the time they were in grade school. Google is their main professor and they’ve learned to research as fast and efficient as possible. Capitalize on this. Gen Y can sail through tasks you find yourself poring over for hours like learning new scheduling software, Google Sketchup, or computer networking. They love to share what they’ve learned and can help you learn faster.



They can learn fast and perform consistently

Like a Southern California piece-work carpenter, Gen Y loves to have their work lined out and ready to tackle. This may be frustrating to those who value someone who can see what needs to be done and figure out how to do it, but think of the value of someone who can learn fast and perform consistently. Gen Y is also extremely adaptable, so they can learn how to be the leader who takes charge. They just need a better reason than, “Because that’s how it’s done you idiot!”

Can, will you give them what they want?

Contractors hiring generation YGen Y has often been accused of wanting everything right now that their parents spent 25 years earning. However fair the accusation may be, it definitely reveals something about Gen Y. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more ambitious bunch. If they know that you can give them something they really want, they will follow whatever path you draw for them to get it. You can build them in ways that you never could with a burnt out 50 year old carpenter who’s been swinging a hammer the same way since he was 18.

The construction industry has seen some dismal days as of lately and those who have spent nearly a lifetime in it may not wish others the same. But, I hope they can see the promise that exists in the younger generation and take some time to be coaches and mentors to those who are ready and more than capable of taking the industry to the next level.


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Opinions from Contractors, Generation Y

The Perfect Storm: One Contractors Opinion About the Dietz Lawsuit

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Dec 20,2012 @ 06:00 AM

Guest Blog: The Perfect Storm  -One Contractors Opinion About the Dietz Lawsuit and Angie’s List

David Profitt of  Profitt Custom Homes, LLC



Guest Blogger: David Profitt, owner at Profitt Custom Homes, LLC is a NC Licensed General Contractor.  David’s business offers construction of custom homes and remodel/renovation projects ranging from simple decks and porches to whole house makeovers, all as a Design/Build contractor.


Dietz Lawsuit Questions

(Click here to take the quick Dietz Lawsuit Survey)

The Perfect Storm 

I think the lawsuit overall will be a good thing, providing the Perfect Storm scenario doesn't pass thru and the contractor looses.

Most of my clients have never heard of Angie's list (I usually ask), and the one reference I have on there was to straighten out a bath remodel for a client who initially hired another contractor from "the list" to do the job and they botched it in just about every possible way.

That was a few years ago and the only follow-up I've had from that one positive reference has been to get hounded by the sales reps from the "List" trying to sell me bag after bag of magic beans (which is why I ask clients if they use the "list").

I agree that social media is here to stay and like it or not, the construction business is going to have to come to grips with it. It would be great for the construction professionals among us, if it worked properly. The downside is that any customer who gets tee'd off at you for whatever reason, legit or not, can get on there and bash you.

And unlike (in theory) our court system where you are innocent until proven guilty, in social media any mud thrown your way will stick to some extent.  It's kinda like online matchmaking services - if everyone on there told the truth, it would be a wonderful thing.

Nothing breeds respect like fear, and a few successful lawsuits by contractors caught in this situation is probably the only thing that will help keep it in check. The promotional sites like the "list" sure aren't going to. If they operated with that type of integrity, they wouldn't be telling the general public that "contractors can't pay to get on the List"; then repeatedly barrage us with the deal of the week to get our advertising dollars.

I wish Dietz luck on behalf of all of us.



Topics: Dietz Lawsuit Related, Opinions from Contractors

Does CNBC News Interview With Deitz Show Media Bias?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Dec 19,2012 @ 03:53 PM

Does CNBC News Interview With Dietz Show Media Bias? 

Check out this video of a news interview with Chris Dietz, the contractor who is suing his client, Jane Perez, for defamation related to her Angie's List and Yelp Reviews of Dietz and his business.   Based on the questions they ask him they either:

  • They did not prepare very well
  • They weren't listening to his answers
  • They don't understand why he is doing what he is doing
  • Or, they want to put their own spin on the situation. 

Check it out and let us know what you think.  You'll have to watch a commercial first.


 (Click here to take the quick Dietz Lawsuit Survey)

Click here for updates and information about the Dietz defamation Lawsuit


More possible Meida Bias?  Check the link below out and you decide:

A Woman Is Being Sued For Posting A Negative Review On Yelp

ACLU, Public Citizen to fight lawsuit over negative Yelp review  (Check out my comment, should be the first one, assuming they publish it after reviwing it)


Topics: Videos, Dietz Lawsuit Related, Opinions from Contractors, Opinions from Design/Builders