Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS

In a recent meeting with EPA staff, NAHB State Representative and professional remodeler Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, spelled out for regulators why it is bad public policy to expand the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule from residential to commercial construction – including multifamily renovation projects — particularly until that rule is amended to restore the opt-out provision for owners of homes not occupied by pregnant women or young children.

Noting that his company is an EPA-registered firm and that he is an EPA Lead Safe Certified remodeler with considerable experience on large-scale renovation projects in high-rise buildings, Mike provided the officials specific examples of how the rule is infeasible and counterproductive in certain projects. He told them how his company recently added $8,800 to its estimate to pay for what it thought it would cost to comply with the rule on a whole condo remodel. In the end, total compliance costs for the $360,000 project amounted to $16,000.

“The question is,” he said, “how do I take scores of cubic yards of debris eight stories down in a 5-foot by 6-foot by 7-foot common elevator, down a 30-foot common hallway, down a ramp to the alley and up 90 feet to an enclosed truck without contaminating everything in sight along the way? The answer is that I don’t – at least not in a manner that is economically feasible.”

Mike noted that the rule is already causing single-family remodeling companies to be priced out by “fly-by-nighters” who won’t obey the law – and the same thing is likely to happen if the rule is extended to commercial remodeling. He also emphasized that the lack of an effective, reliable test kit for measuring the presence of lead paint – and the Government Accounting Office’s own study criticizing the cost effectiveness of the rule — are two important reasons to fix the existing problems before increasing the scope of the LRRP program to include commercial buildings.